Pinwheel Kids to open in former Sunbeam space

Janet Nelson is the owner of Pinwheel Kids.

There is a quaint little cluster of shops in Cleveland Heights on Fairmount Boulevard, between South Taylor and Queenston roads. One of them, Sunbeam–A Shop for Children, has been offering clothes and gifts for children in the Heights at this location for nearly 17 years, and in the community since 1915.

Earlier this year, Vocational Guidance Services (VGS) Sunbeam Board, the nonprofit organization that ran the shop, decided it was no longer within its mission to run a retail shop and announced it was closing Sunbeam. The board is redirecting its awareness-building and fundraising efforts to special events and activities, such as Fiesta on 55th and its holiday boutique. Members of the Sunbeam's board of directors will continue to provide support to VGS, but without the shop.

Fortunately, longtime manager Janet Nelson decided to purchase the store and carry on its tradition. “It was a bit scary,” she said, “but I have 30 years of experience and many loyal customers.”

Nelson will reopen the store in April with a new name, Pinwheel Kids, and said she couldn’t be more excited about her new endeavor. “This place is my home away from home,” she said. “I love it here in the Heights.”

The Sunbeam board originally opened the store to sell clothing made by those enrolled in its programs—people with mental or physical disabilities, economic disadvantages and people who have been incarcerated— to the public. By the 1980s, the shop’s merchandise no longer focused on items sourced from VGS programs. It had evolved into a contemporary collection of high-quality baby and children’s clothing, and toys with a bright, old-fashioned feel. One could browse through racks of frilly dresses and handmade sweaters, porcelain tea sets, beguiling stuffed animals and wooden toys that had the look and feel of something timeless that could be passed down through generations.

Nelson is renovating the storefront and fixtures and rejuvenating the merchandise in preparation for an April 1 opening. She will start with an assortment of baby gifts and will add apparel and toys in the following weeks. The new store will take up a little less space so that Jubilee! Gifts in the Heights, which had subleased a portion of the Sunbeam space and is owned by Heights resident Carolyn Batcheller, can expand into an entire storefront.

Other changes are afoot for the Fairmount Taylor district. A couple of doors down, Paul Hamlin Interiors will reduce its footprint to a single storefront to make way for duoHOME, a home furnishings and accessories store, which will also open this spring.

Pinwheel Kids does not yet have its own website, but Nelson invites customers to “Like” Pinwheel on Facebook. “As a special opening promotion, I’m going to select at random one person who likes my page on Facebook to come sit with me at this year’s Parade the Circle,” she said. “Every year, I arrive early and stake out a good seat. The lucky winner and his or her family will be able to join me on my blanket and enjoy what I think is one of the best family-friendly events around.”

Pinwheel Kids
3469 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Heights
Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Kathy Gross

Kathy Gross is a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 6, Issue 4, Posted 11:05 AM, 03.26.2013