Rows and rows of tiny, smiling faces peered through the glass on Adam Smyk’s new store. His son, Andrew, peered back.
“When you come back from six months away, the kids don’t really trust you,” said Adam. “This is definitely a new chapter in my life.”
Surrounded by Lego figurines, Adam, his sons Andrew, 6, James, 9, and Daniel, 21, all have a special place in their hearts for the familiar childhood toys.
“Best job I’ve ever had,” said Daniel. “The fact that I get to make money and spend time with my loved ones, that’s probably the best part of it.”
“I’m a Star Wars guy,” said Adam, who served over two decades in the U.S. Navy. “We have Indiana Jones and the dinosaur sets.”
As well as nearly every character from nearly every Lego set ever. The store has Spiderman and Batman models set up just a few feet away from Santa Claus, Scooby Doo, the Little Mermaid and army Lego pieces.
The store is the perfect place for fans of the toys to buy, sell and trade. It’s also a great place to make memories – like the ones Adam made with his kids while they grew up.
“It’s really hard to find that common ground when you’ve missed half of somebody’s life,” he said. “You really don’t know them too well.”
During his deployments, Adam missed a lot of events. He adopted Daniel early in life and was present for the birth of James and Andrew, but he missed many other milestones while serving in Jacksonville, San Diego and Hawaii.
Whenever he returned from service, he brought Lego with him. It was the perfect time consuming, father-son bonding toy to rekindle a relationship.
“As a teenager, maybe my relationship with my dad wasn’t the greatest,” said Daniel. “Doing this definitely made us closer.”
James and Andrew agree that Adam is the best builder in the family. The boys sifted through bins of colorful shapes in the store while Daniel checked on customers. Adam handed Andrew the perfect piece he’d been searching for to complete his creation.
“It’s been a way to bond my family together,” said Adam. “Kind of like the way Legos bond together, that’s what it’s done for my family and I.”
Adam plans to open another store this fall in Oak Park Plaza at 733 W. Lumsden Road in Brandon.