Retro Ruckus

A fixture on Cleveland's kitsch scene burns his vintage bridges

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Presser remembers that Flower Child owner Joe Valenti had told him Lewis had had personality clashes with other employees, and that Valenti didn't want him around anymore. Presser had been finding the same thing with customers at Big Fun, but thought he had hit upon a solution.

"Redwin has a personality that is both very ingratiating ... and a total other side that is very, very, very upsetting to other individuals," says Presser. Former co-workers say he has a penchant for starting rumors and playing staffers off of one another. Many are leery of talking on the record at all, saying they're afraid of him.

"He was pretty good on the computer, so I put him in the back office," Presser says. "He took care of cutting checks and making deposits. It seemed like that was where he could put his best foot forward."

To Presser, Lewis was a valuable part of the Big Fun family. But the fun wouldn't last forever.

A slender, pale, blonde with fine features, Cindy Deering looks like the kind of suburban housewife who shopped at the high-end art and antiques gallery she ran in Beachwood back in the 1980s. By 1990, she started selling vintage collectibles out of a stall at the Bijou Gallery, an antiques mall on Lorain. The strip was red-hot, so she quickly added another space, then another. Her boyfriend at the time, artist Tom Wilson of Ziggy fame, urged her to open her own spot and abetted the project by helping to buy the former bingo hall that became Suite Lorain.

"It was such a huge space, I had to have renters," she says. Some, like Flower Child's Valenti, moved on to open their own businesses.

But by 2009, some of the businesses on the strip that had catered to vintage and antique collectors had moved on. Years of bad economy had taken their toll. Riding herd on the 16 dealers who leased space had overwhelmed Deering, who had had her own financial and personal ups and downs in recent years, including caring for her elderly father for several years before his death in 2009. Her friend, advertising hotshot-turned-investor/entrepreneur Alan Glazen — now a partner in such hot new establishments as Erie Island Coffee, ABC Tavern, and XYZ Tavern — had helped her pay off some back taxes; in exchange, Deering put the building in his name as collateral.

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