Howard Greenspan, owner of Gaming Etc. Inc., is taking Giant Steps into the community toy store business.

For more than 10 years, Greenspan, the owner and founder of Gaming Etc., an online retailer of role-playing and card games, has been building the classic Web business. He owns a warehouse, where he ships games and cards throughout the United States.

But in 2006, he opened a retail store at 555 Lordship Blvd. in Stratford. That store caters to the gaming groups that enjoy Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh, and people can meet and compete in tournaments at the shop as well as buy cards and games.

Now, Greenspan is bringing the formula of interactive retail to the toy and baby crowd, having leased 735 Villa Ave., Fairfield, the former home of Paradise Patio, for his toy store Giant Steps.

"With frontage on two streets, a high traffic count, and neighboring national retailers that include Walgreens, Stop & Shop and Kohl's, this is a great location for Giant Steps," said Jon Angel, president of Angel Commercial, and the sole broker in the deal to lease the space. "It's exciting to bring a new retail store to Fairfield that will provide additional employment and shopping opportunities."

Greenspan said he believes he has a model that will bring the community toy store back into vogue.

"It's going to be very different," he said of Giant Steps, which will open in June. "We're making it a very interactive store."

Greenspan, a Fairfield resident, said his business is putting more than $200,000 of renovations into the building and when done it will have a stage and several areas for kids to play with toys.

"Half our space is play area," he said, adding he wasn't sure yet where he will stock the toys and baby items for sale.

The inspiration for the store can be traced to his success in Stratford with the interactive gaming store, and to a trip he took with his daughter to a museum, where they built a constellation together, he said.

They also paid and toured the museum, he said. So Greenspan's line of thinking was to do the same thing with toys for kids.

Events will be free at Giant Steps, Greenspan said. If he gets 10 people in and five make purchases, that would be fine. He said he expects to hire six people.

Greenspan said he's able to compete on prices because the Internet business provides the volume he needs to balance the costs of a brick-and-mortar operation. The operations share a warehouse and so prices will be the same.

For more information on Gaming Etc., visit