Four Coventry shops celebrate milestone anniversaries

Celebrating Coventry milestones together, from left: Suzanne DeGaetano, James McSherry of Mac's Backs; Stuart Attenson, Christina Attenson of Attenson's Antiques; Robert Laird, Ann Oswald-Laird of Passport to Peru; and Rob Pryor of Record Revolution.

On Sept. 29, four beloved Coventry merchants—Record Revolution, Passport to Peru, Mac’s Backs and Attenson’s Antiques—will, together, celebrate milestone anniversaries in the popular Cleveland Heights shopping district. The street will be abuzz from noon to 6 p.m. that Saturday, with musicians, face painting, balloon twisting, tarot card readings, origami book-making, in-store discounts, and more. All of the businesses will offer specials on that day, and some will offer ongoing sales or promotions.

Established by Peter Schliewin, Record Revolution is a Midwest hub of counter-cultural lifestyle. Celebrating 50 years of business, the shop is one of the nation’s oldest independent record stores. Originally filling three full storefronts, the shop’s footprint downsized in 2007. Current owner Rob Pryor noted that the business is known for its diverse and unique product base—ranging from collectible vinyl and posters to clothing, incense and alternative medicines. The shop continues to purchase records, welcoming selections in rock, jazz, R&B, punk, reggae, and hard salsas.

Record Revolution’s lineage includes legendary record releases and the basement launch of Alternative Press magazine. Pryor grew up in the Heights, and said he always knew he wanted to do something in music. The Rox El, Rox Middle and CHHS alum now lives two blocks from the shop. “I am invested in this community,” Pryor said.

Sept. 29 specials: 10 percent off all regularly priced merchandise and 50 percent off all “basement vinyl.”

Occupying the same location for 40 years, Passport to Peru was originally founded by brothers-in-law Ray Taylor and Tom Loesche, who opened shop when a globe-traveling friend arranged to hand-select South and Central American wares. With an emphasis on fair trade and responsibly made products, the shop carries goods from several countries. “We offer good products and good prices,” said owners Ann Oswald-Laird and Robert Laird, who purchased the shop in 2008.

Raised in the Heights, Oswald-Laird attended St. Ann’s, Roxboro Middle, and Heights High schools.

Asked about the shop’s ability to transcend time, Laird explained, “You only get here because people support you.” For key merchandise, such as Birkenstock shoes, the shop offers diversity, choices and “a true sit-and-fit experience.”

Sept. 29 specials: 40–50 percent off select shoes, 25 percent off sterling silver, and 10 percent off all in-store purchases.

Ongoing: An environmental awareness campaign, phasing-out paper and plastic shopping bags. Customers can buy a $2 cloth tote that comes with a discount of 5 percent off all purchases when carrying the Passport to Peru tote. 

Founded in 1978 by Jim McSherry, Mac’s Backs operated in Kent, then Chagrin Falls prior to landing in Coventry in 1982, with the help of business partner Suzanne DeGaetano. The shop originally was located above Dobama Theatre (then at 1785 Coventry), and has been in its current location since 1993.

In discussing the store’s longevity, St. Ann's and Beaumont school alumna DeGaetano pointed to customers and community. While the shop began as a book exchange, customer requests led to an expansion of offerings. Customers have also been key to the shop’s signature events—the community cherishes its poetry readings, author appearances, and book clubs. Mac's also collaborates with other Cleveland Heights venues for off-site events.

More than anything, DaGaetano credits the staff for shaping the essence of Mac's Backs. “Our staff is fantastic,” said DeGaetano. “They help us be the best kind of indy bookstore we can be.”

Sept. 29 specials: 20 percent off all books; special merchandise and giveaway items; costumed children’s book characters; and a book signing with artists featured in HeART of Cleveland.

Ongoing: An anniversary window display, a memory-lane zine, and origami art that commemorates Mac’s Backs founding year (1978) and current year (2018).

At the north end of the district, Attenson’s Antiques has been a hallmark of the Coventry neighborhood since opening there in 1988, after six years on Noble Road. When their hobbies led to a home filled with antiques and books, founders Stuart and Patricia Attenson began taking their wares to local flea markets and antique shows—with kids Mitchell, Christina and Rebecca in tow.

Raised in the Heights within the context of a small business, the siblings each joined its operations over time. Mitchell was an early partner in the Noble Road location and helped bring the shop to Coventry. Christina joined the business in 1992, followed by Rebecca in 2000. All are proud CHHS alums.

The shop endures through its mix of merchandise and the way the business operates. “We feel a joy in buying and a joy in selling,” said Christina. For those who ask, there is an opportunity to bargain. While generational shifts affect business, customer inquiries guide purchasing, and there has been a rising interest in cassette tapes and recorders, vinyl, and vintage clothing. “They’ve taught us,” explained Rebecca. “If people ask for something, we will find it.”

Attenson’s also offers estate liquidation and moving sale services.

Sept. 29 specials: Light refreshments and a 30 percent discount off all merchandise.

Ongoing: 30 days to celebrate 30 years, with 20 percent off all merchandise through Oct. 31, along with some special markdowns.

Shari Nacson

Mostly a mom, Shari Nacson, LISW-S, is a freelance editor, child development specialist, and nonprofit consultant who makes her home in Cleveland Heights. More than anything, Nacson is inspired by kids and adults who build connection through kindness.

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Volume 11, Issue 9, Posted 2:47 PM, 09.03.2018