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Archive for the ‘Children’s shoes’ Category

We’re all busy and we definitely know any parent wants to save money. With school starting, here’s a list of tips to help you shop online and save some money!

SHOP LE TOP’S FALL 2010 COLLECTION HERE
enjoy free ground shipping*

Shop Online. Only.
Avoid the back-to-school mayhem entirely. Schedule time with each of your children to cybershop – most stores will save the contents of your shopping cart for a few days (like Le Top!); then you can go back and revise according to your budget when all the kids are done. Kids also love the special time with you. Let them control the mouse and the clicks when they add to the shopping basket  – they’ll have fun with it!

Get Cash Back
A no-brainer for saving during any big shopping season is to shop through a cash-back service where a credit card can give cash back or mileage for your shopping.

Get “in the loop” & Set Yourself Up For Deals
Most parents know where they’ll do some of their shopping already. Sign up for your preferred retailers e-mail newsletter list, and you’ll be the first to know about sales, spend-and-save offers, and free shipping – sometimes they’ll even throw in a coupon code! Sign up for Le Top by getting “in the loop” and clicking here.

Le Top’s security seal for our online boutique!

Be Careful
Make sure the sites for the online stores you’re using are secure.  Know the privacy policies of each online store before you give them your credit card number.  Look for something in the site’s privacy policy or payments FAQ that talks about what kind of encryption the company uses to protect your information.  SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption is the industry standard and ensures that your credit card and personal information are transmitted in a way that no third party can decipher.

Know What You’re Buying
Sometimes the ease of shopping online means that you sacrifice being able to actually see/touch/try on the item.  Look for online stores that have high resolution images of the item, list the fabric content, have care instructions and size charts for their items.  Also keep an eye out for easy return policies.  That way there’s a pretty good chance that when the item arrives at your house, it’s exactly what you expected, but if it isn’t, it’s not a big deal to return.

Le Top keeps all of these shopping tips in mind when upgrading and updating our website with new arrivals and functionality for our Le Top customers and fans.

CHECK OUT THE NEW LE TOP ONLINE BOUTIQUE
AT http://www.letop-usa.com/

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Le Top interviewed one of our favorite Facebook friends and top premier store retailers for this Friday’s “Store Spotlight” – Aberdeen’s.  Boutique owner, Megan Needham, tells us about treating a customer right, funny quotes she has heard in her store and her favorite Le Top Fall collection.

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1.     Where did the name Aberdeen’s come from?
Megan: The previous owner’s husband went to Aberdeen’s University!

2.     You probably have seen hundreds of mommies and daddies come through your store and hear them speaking with their children – what is the funniest or sweetest thing you have heard come out of a child’s mouth recently?
Megan: I recently heard a child say, “Mommy, you have to keep an eye on me, I’m very curious.”

3.      What is one special fact about your store that a typical customer wouldn’t know?
Megan: I have owned the store now for 3 years. I take pride that I am at the store every day and have no employees.

4.     What sets you apart as a successful children’s store?
Megan: Customer service. I put in a lot of time at the store and have gotten to know my customers on a very personal level.

5.     Are you a native? Describe the neighborhood your store is in.
Megan: I don’t live directly in Grand Haven, but I live just north, and would love to move to Grand Haven in the future. Aberdeen’s is located in a great little downtown area that is just a walk away from Lake Michigan.

6.     What type of clothing did you wear growing up as kid?
Megan:
I wore a mixture of dresses and casual clothing, and in the summer I practically lived in my bathing suit. (who doesn’t as a child, right?)

7.     What tip would you give to a parent dressing a child?
Megan:
Buying higher-priced quality clothing is worth it in the long run – it holds up better, so that it can be worn a lot more and passed down through many children.

8.     Today, kid’s “live for” super heroes like Dora the Explorer or Buzz Light Year.  Growing up I am sure you had some sort of child super hero – For example, Rainbow Bright, Batman, Spider Man, Scooby Doo, etc. Who was your hero and why?
Megan:
I didn’t watch a lot of TV when I was a child, some movies… but I never really had a specific hero that I lived for. I did, however, have a grey cat stuffed animal that I wanted to be! 🙂

9.     If you had one piece of advice for someone trying to break into children’s retail, what would it be?
Megan:
Customer service! Be sure to treat your customer right, do whatever you can for them, get to know them and what they want!

10.     What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Megan:
When we first bought the store 3 years ago, we had very little time to find a location to move the store into. We had only two days to get the space that we rented ready before we moved in! It was a lot of hard work (phew!), but well worth it in the end!

11.     What collection or piece from Le Top or Le Top Baby line do you love from the Fall/Holiday 2010 collection?
Megan:
The Gentle Giraffes (boy and girl) collection!




Aberdeen’s Clothing for Children
207 Washington
Grand Haven, MI 49417
616.850.8820
http://www.aberdeenschildren.com/

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Boogie monster? Nope! Check out this week’s “Store Spotlight” with Kids Kloset in Broken Bow, Nebraska. Shirley McGinn gets down to earth with Le Top and gives tips on how to update your child’s wardrobe this summer and what her “must-haves” are for a family road trip!

Visit Le Top’s Facebook and become a Fan to receive weekly “Store Spotlight” updates — Click HERE

1.     Are you a Nebraska native? If so, what did you do growing up as a kid in the local area? Describe the neighborhood your store is in for us. 
Shirley:
I am a Nebraska native.  I graduated from Broken Bow High School.  Music was always my love and I taught elementary music for several years.  I raised my family and then entered the retail business and have owned my own store for 10 years!  My store is located on a beautiful square, which is the center of the retail area in Broken Bow.  We have a “prime” spot [on the Square].

2.     So how did you get your start in the children’s business?
Shirley:
Well, I worked in a missy store for several years and opened a small department in the store that I worked in, and eventually out grew that space and opened my current store location.

3.     If you had to take a family road trip this summer – what 5 items could you not live without?
Shirley:
Comfortable clothes that always look fresh, plenty of cold water, games for the kids, snacks, and plenty of patience!!

4.     What is 1 tip you would give a parent on how to update your child’s wardrobe for summer?
Shirley:
Find clothes that are cool, easy to care for and feel good for a child.  Comfort is everything!

The Le Top wall features our Lot's o' Fish, Hip Hop Grasshopper, Sweatheart Butterfly, Daisy Duck, Wildflower, and Wild About Monokinis collections.

5.     Between all of the social media outlets – Facebook, Twitter, and more – what do you think about social networking and how it allows moms and dads to join cyber parenting communities where they can meet, gain knowledge, as well as get recommendations and support.
Shirley:
I think the concept is very interesting and I think the parents today are more in-tune with this type of resource.  My own children, as parents, rely on others for advise in this area and probably would use social networking to reach out to their friends.

6.     What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your success?  
Shirley:
Variety, a knowledgeable staff, and our location.

7.     If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?
Shirley:
Watch the price point and the quality. Also be sure the clothing has color and style.

8.     What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Shirley:
We have annual style shows and getting the children ready is always fun and the kids themselves have so much fun.

 9. What collection or piece from Le Top line do you love from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?
Shirley:
The Le Top swimsuits!

Le Top Spring/Summer 2010 Daisy Duck and Zebra Monokinis

 Kids Kloset
833 D Street
Broken Bow, NE 68822
308.872.3802
http://www.fashionisourpassion.com/

 

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Check out this week’s “Store Spotlight” with The Toggery in Little Rock, Arkansas. So what is the meaning of “toggery”? Phil Olinghouse, owner of The Toggery children’s store tells us about what The Toggery means to him and about his fun “Elf on the Shelf” blog type items, where he shopped as a kid, and the evolution of his store since its inception in1948.

 tog·ger·y  (tg-r, tôg-)
n. pl. tog·ger·ies
1. Clothing; togs.
2. A clothing store.

Visit Le Top’s Facebook and become a Fan to receive weekly “Store Spotlight” updates — Click HERE

The Toggery in Pleasant Ridge Town Center

1.     What is one fact about your store that a typical customer wouldn’t know?
Phil: The number of hours that Penny (my wife) and I put in trying to respond to the needs of our customers. We spend untold time on special orders and special requests.

2.     What sets you apart as a successful children’s store?
Phil: We have been able to relate to the needs of our customers, and make every effort to supply those needs in a timely manner with a fair price that provides good value. We have consistently provided service that focuses on our customer first and foremost.  

3.     You probably have seen hundreds of mommies and daddies come through your store and hear them speaking with their children – what is the funniest or sweetest thing you have heard come out of a child’s mouth recently?
Phil: No talking allowed at the Toggery, I don’t know. (wink, wink) 

4.     Are you a Little Rock native? Describe the neighborhood your store is in for us.
Phil: 
Penny and I both grew up in Little Rock. Our Heights location is where  The Toggery started in 1948 and we have been in the same location since 1962. This is a wonderful old neighborhood where we know our neighbors. The shopping area has always attracted customers from all over the state of Arkansas because of its reputation for unique upscale shopping. On the other hand our Pleasant Ridge Town Center store, which we newly opened in January, has reinforced our commitment to that part of our city. This has been the center of growth for a number of years and we have been a part of west Little Rock since 1978.

4.     What type of clothing did you wear growing up as kid? What tip would you give to a parent dressing a child? Do you have a picture of you as a kid you can share with us?
Phil: My mother dressed me at JCPenny, Sears, and the Crystal Kiddie children’s shop. Pretty traditional stuff – who can remember that far back? I think mothers today should focus on unique clothes that reflect their taste and lifestyle. Remember quality clothes last longer and look better longer. 

5.     We love your blog –what is your daily inspiration for your blog entries? How many bloggers are on your team of writers? What has been your most popular blog item?
Phil: Last June we formed a web team whose mission is to enhance the presence of The Toggery on the Internet. The three young people that work on this project bring a ton of enthusiasm and energy to their job. Caroline Tyler, a creative writing graduate student writes our blog. She has had an incredible response. Our team brainstorms at our weekly meetings and she brings these ideas to life. This team also markets our store through e-mail and Facebook campaigns. My favorite promotion was last Christmas when we had a contest to name your elf, based on the “Elf On The Shelf” book. The response was incredible and the creativity of the names our customers had was incredible.

6.     You have a great selection of items to buy from your store from clothes to shoes to uniforms to books! What is your favorite children’s book and why?
Phil: My favorite book is “On The Night You Were Born” by Nancy Tillman. This book gets right to heart of what you want a child to hear early on. It is a wonderful story that should be in every library.

7.     If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?
Phil: Be extremely focused on what you want your store to be. Listen to your customers and never forget you are there to serve them in an extraordinary way. Last, always have a planned buy and do not overbuy. More stores fail because of how much they buy, rather than what they buy.  

8.     What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Phil: I think when Penny and I had our first grandchild and got to clothe her (and the four that have followed) has been memorable and meaningful. They have certainly rejuvenated and stimulated our buying. That was 10 years ago and we are a much better store because of them.

9.     What collection or piece from Le Top or Le Top Baby line do you love from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?
Phil: We loved the boys Choo Choo Zoo collection from Le Top Baby. It was pure Le Top, traditional and very special for our newborn boys. And the best part was it sold great!

The Toggery
5919 R Street
Little Rock, AR 72207
501.663.8662
http://www.toggerykids.com/
http://www.facebook.com/Toggery

The Toggery
Pleasant Ridge Town Center

11525 Cantrell Road Ste. 405
Little Rock, Arkansas 72212
501.227.8492
800.207.8691

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Not “just for children,” but JUST TOO cute! Check out this week’s “Store Spotlight” with JM’s Just For Children in Bakersfield, California.  Molly Clifton, owner of JM’s Just for Children, tells us about the new meaning of “Home” for her customer’s kids and pre-choosing a child’s outfit the night before as a style strategy!

Visit Le Top’s Facebook and become a Fan to receive 
weekly
“Store Spotlight” updates — Click HERE
(at the bottom right of the home page)

1.     What is one fact about your store that a typical customer wouldn’t know?
Molly:
That I taught school for 15 years.  Teaching influenced me in the belief that the customer needs to be educated on why they are buying a product of this kind, and giving them friendly and knowledgeable service.  We are celebrating 31 years in September.

2.     What sets you apart as a successful children’s store?
Molly: Enthusiasm for the business.  Customer service has earned us 16 years of the “Best of Kern County” award.

3.     You probably have seen hundreds of mommies and daddies come through your store and hear them speaking with their children – what is the funniest or sweetest thing you have heard come out of a child’s mouth recently?
Molly: Everyday children cry when mommy takes them out of the play area to go “Home.”  Wanting to come to JM’s is the music to our ears.

4.     Are you a Bakersfield, California native? Describe the neighborhood your store is in for us.
Molly: I was born here, but did not live here until 1979.  My family started the first drug store in Shafter, California in 1919 which is a small town just North of here.  JM’s is in a strip center close to our only enclosed Mall.

5.     What type of clothing did you wear growing up as a kid? What tip would you give to a parent dressing a child?
Molly:  My girls were raised in this store, and now my granddaughters.  My tip to parents is ‘choose the outfit they are going to wear the night before, and then stick to it.’  It stops many arguments.

6.     If you could meet one celebrity mommy or daddy, who would they be and why, as well as what you like most about his or her style?
Molly: Well, I hope all of our customers are treated like celebrities.  I have found that most customers vary their taste.  In one purchase, you can have a twirly frilly dress and a Hurley T-shirt.

7.     As summer heats up – what is 1 tip you would give a parent on how to dress your child for the heat and what would a key closet staple be to dress him or her for the warm weather, i.e. a sun hat, tank top, linen shorts, etc.?
Molly: Le Top of course.  They have great hats and cool cotton.

8.     If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?
Molly: Do your homework.  You need a good population base and don’t pre-judge your customer.  Make sure you have a variety and learn from your sales. What they say and what they buy, may be very different.

9.     What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Molly:
Best moment for me is the JM’s Family.  Both Managers have been with us over 27 years.  Most memorable was when a car ran though the window when the elderly driver stepped on the gas instead of the brake.  He went through the entire store!

10.     What collection or piece from Le Top or Le Top Baby line do you love from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?
Molly: ‘Daisy Duck’ Collection! I sold out every piece!

JM’s Just for Children
930 Wible Road
Bakersfield, CA 93304
661.834.7277
www.jmsjustforchildren.com

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Oh BABY! Check out this week’s “Store Spotlight” with Baby, It’s You in Riverdale, NY.  Rose Ann Milo, owner of Baby, It’s You, tells us about her fun feng shui tactics in her store, embroidering heirloom items for kids and making it in the business for 34 successful years.

Visit Le Top’s Facebook and become a Fan to receive weekly “Store Spotlight” updates — Become a fan and Click HERE

1.    What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Rose Ann:
My grand opening party 34 years ago! All of my friends and family were there to support me.  It was happiness, and loving and caring people who supported me.

2.    What sets you apart as a successful children’s store?
Rose Ann: The uniqueness of a store and being able to walk a customer through an entire store and really know your product. After a customer shops, it’s good to individually wrap each item and personally deliver items throughout your neighborhood if necessary. We also hand paint anything that is wood and embroider anything with cloth. For example, for a “baby’s first birth” we embroider on a cute blankie or towel. A unique type of embroidery we offer at our store is when customers buy a christening slip or gown, we embroider the date to make it an heirloom that can be passed down through the generations.

3.    You probably have seen hundreds of mommies and daddies come through your store and hear them speaking with their children – what is the funniest or sweetest thing you have heard come out of a child’s mouth recently?
Rose Ann: What comes to my mind is that a lot of the children don’t speak, they just CRY. Ha!  There are so many babies coming into my store on a daily basis.

4.    Are you a Riverdale, New York native? Describe the neighborhood your store is in for us.
Rose Ann: Yes, I am a Riverdale native!  Hm, how would I describe our neighborhood? Riverdale is one of the most sophisticated places to live. We have the best schools and it is an amazing place for education. There is a great park that overlooks the palisades too. Overall, it is a city with a strong country feeling. You could go 2 blocks off the main road and you will feel like you are in the country.  I really love how it is a melting pot with all different walks of life.

Red Envelope and an Evil Eye

5.    What is one fact about your store that a typical customer wouldn’t know?
Rose Ann: 
I had feng shui performed on my store for good luck and good sales!  I have a Chinese red envelope in the back of my store filled with rice for good luck too! I also have a crystal ball in the front of the store, along with an evil eye.

6.    What type of clothing did you wear growing up as kid? What tip would you give to a parent dressing a child? Do you have a picture of you as a kid you can share with us?
Rose Ann:
When I was a kid, we wore uniforms at school and after school we switched into casual clothing. I remember on the weekend, we went to Manhattan to buy our coats and fancy clothes. My tip for any parent would be to NOT buy clothing that is too big. So many parents these days buy clothing that is swimming on their children. The parents buy too big to try and get a longer wear out of the clothing, but it just doesn’t look right!

7.    What is 1 tip you would give a parent on how to update your child’s wardrobe this summer?
Rose Ann: Buy 3 or 4 different outfits where you can mix and match them with basic colors.  Accessories can also change an outfit very easily – I always love adding a headband or belt to make the outfit look updated. 

8.    If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?
Rose Ann: Walk away!  Just joking. In all fairness, in this economy it is very difficult to have a great childrenswear boutique. If you are established you are okay [for business], but even customers who have money in this economy want a discount!  But on a more positive note if you do want to start a store, make it as unique as possible and make it a full service store – walk the customer through the whole store, allow them to try any outfit on, and personalize the item. Make your store have things you can’t find on mass distribution type level like a Target. Wrapping is key!

9.    What collection or piece from Le Top or Le Top Baby line do you love from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?
Rose Ann: The ducky group [Daisy Duck Collection] is the BEST! Absolutely the best!

BABY, IT’S YOU
3727 Riverdale Avenue
Riverdale, New York 10463
718.548.1134
http://babyitsyou.net

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Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers – say that 10x fast! Okay, FORGET that and instead check out Piper Children’s Boutiques who are our 7th premier store retailer in our “Store Spotlight” series (where we feature one of Le Top’s best stores of the week).  Nancy Vansanten, owner of Piper Children’s Boutiques, gives us the low down on shopping at her 3 stores in Indiana and what makes her boutiques “different” – even having her store employees dress up in whimsical tutus and fairy wings!  How fun!


Visit Le Top’s Facebook and become a Fan to receive weekly “Store Spotlight” updates — Become a fan and Click HERE

Visit Piper Children’s Boutiques’ website at http://www.piperboutiques.com/

1.   The name “piper” reminds me of the Peter Piper nursery rhyme – was this the inspiration of your store name? If not, what was your inspiration?

Nancy:  Piper is my daughter’s name, hence the stores name. Piper was 2 when I opened the first store. She is pregnant now and expecting in August.  The baby is going to come home from the hospital in Le Top! Like so many of my other customers! 

2.   They always say, “location, location, location” in real estate. You have 3 store locations – which was the original store location? Can you describe the neighborhoods of your stores?

Nancy:  The first store opened on March 17th, 1983 in Hobart, Indiana. 5 years later the Valparaiso store opened. The Indy store is Piper’s and opened on March 17th, 2006. The stores are located in downtown areas, smack dab in the middle of town. I like the feel of downtowns and it gives me more freedom than operating out of a mall.


3.  
What do you think is the best way to pick a baby name?

Nancy:  Right now my daughter is pregnant with a baby boy due this August – the name is a secret still! I always wanted Piper to name her son Tom-Tom. This was an idea years ago. You know, Tom-Tom the Piper’s Son, but that was rejected immediately. Obviously I have no idea how to pick a name for a child. I used to record the new babies names that shopped in my store, and have always felt very popular names would not suit me. Sarah Palin copied me though. In 1980, when Piper was born, I never heard the name Piper, now it seems to have caught on.

4.   What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your success?

Nancy:  Three Keys:  First two are obvious – customer service and dedication to work. The one thing, and main thing, that sets us apart and keeps people coming is “We’re Different.” We are not only carry a great mix of merchandise that is quality, unique, funky, a little edgy, top of the trends, classic etc., but we also have ‘out-there’ displays; most people say how different our stores are. Most of our lines are exclusive to NW Indiana. I travel everywhere to find our produt.  Europe, Asia, South America etc. I’ve even looked around Arabia a few times. Didn’t find anything but great for inspiration. Here are few of the qualities that make us “different” and unique:

  • Our hours on the door say:  Daily 10:00 – 5:53, Friday 10:00 – 7:53, Sunday – At the Beach.  People often ask ‘why 5:53?’  Our response “We’re Different – come see how.”  Our phone message states the same. They ask “at the beach? In the middle of the winter?.”  Response:  ‘We didn’t say what beach”.
  • The display girls wear tutus and wings when we are changing the windows and the costumers love it.
  • We often dress to the theme of the near holiday or make up one of our own.
  • In the summer there are many diners eating outside near our store.  We try to change the windows then. Our window displays are whimsical – magical, so we are told.
  • Our hats are legendary – we make some of them and often have “Hat Hour”
  • We give out $2.00 bills for change.
  • We have fun.
  • We accessorize every outfit.  Hat, bow, shoes, blanket, toy, bracelet, purse, sox etc.  We have many come to the store to accessorize outfits they were given, even from other stores. “Staying true to quality, comfort and design in every piece of clothing I choose” is my motto.  Le Top is one of the best manufactures I have had in all three of these criteria, plus the customer service is unmatched anywhere in this industry.
  • We deliver to new moms in the hospitals.
  • Our windows are extreme.  Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess.  I think Bruno (our Le Top sales representative) would tell you that about me.  There are so many other ways we are different but I don’t want to give away everything.

5.   If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?

Nancy:  Advice — Post your hours and KEEP them.  It sounds easy but it’s not.

6.   What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?

Nancy:  One memorable moment, and there are many, is at my 25th anniversary celebration.  I saw so many past moms that are now grandmothers and return to wish me luck and buy a special outfit for their grandchild. I often hear, ” I brought all my children home from hospital [or Easter dress, Christmas, etc.] in a Piper outfit and now I’m doing the same for my grandchildren.”

I think I am one of Le Top’s longest standing retailers…27 or 28 years?

7.   What collection or piece from Le Top and/or rabbit moon do you love most from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?

Nancy: I always love the coming-home-from-the-hospital outfits.  My grandson is coming home in the Puppy, Please! group.

Owner Nancy Vansanten (right) in her Hobart Store


PIPER CHILDREN’S BOUTIQUE LOCATIONS
http://www.piperboutiques.com/

Piper Children’s Boutique
8235 E 116th Street
Fishers, IN 46038
317.578.7002

Piper Children’s Boutique
15 E Lincoln Way
Valparaiso, IN 46383
219.464.7473

Piper Children’s Boutique
322 Main Street
Hobart, IN 46323
219.942.2681

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It’s a baby bug’s life! Read about our 6th premier retailer in our weekly “Store Spotlight” series where we feature one of Le Top’s best stores.  Judy Novinger, owner of Baby Bug & Me, gives us the fun facts of the state bug of Pennsylvania (where her store is located), her launch of a “shoetique,” what mommies buy in her store versus her online boutique, and what celebrity mommy she would love to meet!

1.      What made you decide to enter the children’s business and what did you do before?

Judy: Baby Bug & Me is a spin off of my previous retail gift shop named Lightning Bug, Inc. There was a major closing of many of the children’s boutiques in the greater Harrisburg, PA area a few years ago.  I opened Baby Bug & Me in September 2003 to fill this retail gap.

2.      The name of your store is very playful – where did the name come from?

Judy:   My original gift shop featured a whimsical little girl lightning bug as our logo.  Our baby boutique logo shows the little girl lightning bug all grown up and pushing a buggy with a baby bug.

Thus the name “Baby Bug & Me.”  Oh by the way, the “Lightening Bug” is also the state insect of Pennsylvania!

3.      What would people be surprised to learn about you and your store?

Judy: I was formerly a gift buyer for a large department store and decided to interview for the children’s clothing buyer position. I was told that I ‘didn’t have what it took to buy children’s fashions’ and did not get the job.   As time went on, I moved on to pursue other opportunities in sales and retail.  Ironically, had I been selected for that original position there probably would not be a Baby Bug & Me today.

4.      Who is your target customer?

Judy: The grandparents are my strongest supporters!  Being a grandmother of eight, I know the thrill of having the child of my child in my arms.  My customers share stories, pictures and what they want to buy for their families. The grandparent shopper is looking for the clothing that “keeps children looking like children”. That is why Le Top is our largest clothing retailer source.  They give quality and take cute to the limit!

5.      As a couple, you and your husband must have incredibly demanding schedules with the store. What’s the key to your successful marriage?

Judy: My husband Jim, whom I am married to for 40 years, is the man behind the scenes.  Even with having a full-time job, he still finds the time to support Baby Bug & Me.  From my visions, he builds my fixtures.  He supports my business computer needs, and he is the MUSCLE behind the heavy “grunt work.”

6.      What products do your clientele like the most?

Judy: Layette, playwear and shoes are our strongest categories.  We provide sizes preemie to 4 toddlers for boys, and girls’ sizes expand from preemie to 6x with a move to 10/12 in the fall. This fall we will have completed our expansion of “The Shoetique”.  This is our store within a store concept for shoes.  Fortunately, my customers are very forthcoming with what they want for their shopping needs.  They want good quality shoes to match the clothing they purchase.

7.      Any Celebrity customers over the years or do you have any celebs buying right now?

Judy: Most of my celebs are from our diverse local TV and radio personalities.  It’s fun meeting the person behind the voice on the radio.

8.      There are so many famous celebrity mommies that we see each week in the weeklies such as Us Weekly, InTouch, etc. – if you could meet one celeb mommy or daddy, who would it be and why?

Judy: I think I’d like to meet Sandra Bullock.  She seems like a good, caring working mother and an all around nice person.

9.      Between all of the social media outlets – Facebook, Twitter, and more – what do you think about social networking and how it allows moms and dads to come together as a parenting community?

Judy: I have learned that the computer savvy mother turns to the Internet for their children’s needs.  After hours, when moms are finally settled, she browses the Internet to shop and network with other parents.  We actually just hired a new associate for our store that set Baby Bug & Me up on Facebook.  Wow! What a network!  I also have learned to surf the net to find new and exciting product for the store – it helps me with the necessary planning to attend seasonal kids trade shows.

10. I heard the Lemoyne area in Pennsylvania is pretty cute; describe the neighborhood your store is in for us.

Judy: Lemoyne is located approximately 2 miles south of Harrisburg, PA, our capitol.  We are 1 of 14 upscale businesses located above the West Shore Farmers Market.  Picture a smaller scale Quincy Market type atmosphere as seen in Boston.

11. What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your success?

Judy: Customer Service, Fine Quality Merchandise, and Product Knowledge.  We always want our customer’s time in Baby Bug to be a good experience.  They deserve individual attention when buying for whatever the occasion.  We supply free gift wrapping for one stop shopping and a special play area to keep those little people occupied.  Customers want a unique look that screams quality.  We feel the customer deserves to know the origin, manufacturer and the proper care of all our products.

12. How do you select your products for the store? Do you find that there is a difference between your online boutique consumers for your brand versus your typical store consumer?

Judy: We have a three-part formula.  One third is what I feel the customer will like.  One third is what is trending i.e. organic.  One third is what the area demands, shoes, christening, seasonal, preemie, etc. We find our online customer wants to buy accessories and toys rather than clothing.  The store customer wants to touch the merchandise.  They like to see the colors, evaluate attributes and talk with us about proper sizing.  How frustrating it is to buy something on the web only to find it needs to be returned for one reason or another.  We do shipping for the continental US and military APO and FPO addresses for both online or store sales.

13. If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?

Judy: Always begin with a financial business plan. It is not a matter of just going to the market place and buying pretty things. Do your homework to meet both the area’s needs and your financial plans.  Mentor with other business people.

14. What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?

Judy: I believe that most people, when asked this question, would probably respond with a happy story, and I have many of those. However, my most memorable moment was when I was able to personally assist a grieving grandfather in selecting the burial clothing for his deceased new grandchild. I felt so humbled in helping this family.

15. What collection or piece from Le Top and/or rabbit moon are you loving from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?

Judy: I am wowed by the oranges and blues of Lots ‘o Fish, a true step away from the traditional blues and pinks. The style and fashion make this a fun group for either boy or girl.  I love the mixing of patterns and stripes and the use of the whimsical orange fish appliqués.

Baby Bug & Me
900 Market Street
Lemoyne, PA 17043
717.763.1780
http://www.babybugandme.com

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I take the Fifth!  Check out our 5th premier retailer in our “Store Spotlight” series where we feature one Le Top’s best stores of the week.  Cheryl Leslie, owner of Lad N’ Lassie, gives us the inside details of kid shopping in Prestonburg, Kentucky, and her special, heartfelt moments at her store.

Lad N'Lassie store front featuring Le Top's Playful Pups collection

1.   What made you decide to enter the children’s business? 

CHERYL: Let’s see – I bought the business back in 1997, but Lad N’ Lassie has been in business since 1966!  In 1997, the owners at the time were looking to sell because they were tired (owning a children’s store is 24/7!). I had honestly never been in retail, and they approached me about buying it.  It [buying Lad N’ Lassie] was just something that I had positive feelings about.  I have loved every single day of it since. I used to shop for my children in the store and I was so familiar with the location already.  What is funny is the story even goes deeper than that. The owner’s husband was my father’s lab technician at his dental practice and we knew each other going back over the years!

2.   What was your background prior to this business? 

CHERYL: I was a dental assistant for 22 in my father’s dental practice.

Le Top: You must have some pretty white and bright teeth?

CHERYL: Oh, yes! A big plus in my life!  But, I learned the children’s business very, very quickly, all on my own.

3.   The name of your store reminds of me of country handsome boys and sweet hometown girls – where did the name come from?

CHERYL: It’s funny you asked, because I actually just called the daughter of the previous owner to find out where the name of our store came from.  I discovered that the owner had named it Lad N’ Lassie because its another name for a cute boy and girl – plain and simple as that!  The previous owner’s name was Dot Marshall. She was a great woman.  I purchased the store from her daughter Meg who is now retired.

4.   Your store is located in Prestonburg, Kentucky, otherwise known as the Star City of Eastern Kentucky – it sounds enchanting!  Describe the neighborhood your store is in for us. 

CHERYL: We are in a very, very tiny town where there is a 3,000-person population.  There are only 2 children’s stores in our county, along with a little ladies store, a jewelry store…you get the picture, very few stores.  Despite such a small local population, I am lucky enough to have all of my surrounding counties and my customer base range as far as over 250 miles away!  We are located in a valley in the mountains, surrounded by lush greenery.  Everybody knows everybody (just like Cheers!). Overall, it is a beautiful, quiet town that is ‘homey.’ 

5.   Who is your target customer? Do you specialize in any certain types of product?

CHERYL: Our target customers are grandparents and parents.  If I had to break down our 3 main types of product, they would be: clothing, shoes and toys, but clothes are definitely our number one!  Our customers are always looking for something unique, comfortable, great quality, and of course, easy to care for. We do a tremendous business in baby registry.

Le Top: Do you ever get any ‘Momzilla’s’ for baby registries that want anything and everything?

CHERYL:  Oh yea!!!  We even deliver directly to the baby showers and these moms always want it ALL.  Baby registry at our store is so popular that kids are now registering for their own birthdays.

Le Top: Really? What age?

CHERYL: From babies to 2-years-old!  The kids come in the store and pick what out what they want out and we (Lad N’ Lassie) set up a registry table at the store.  We do whatever works!  We could have as many as 4-5 showers on a weekend. People call with their credit card and we deliver and drive over the gifts personally to our customers.

Baby section highlights Le Top Baby's Puppy's Day Out collection

6.   What products are your ‘fly-off-the-shelf’ type items?  

CHERYL: That is hard to say.  Customers come into the store to buy clothes and it ALWAYS has to be the complete ensemble. The bow, the hat, and the shoes – the complete look.  I love Le Top (as do our customers) – you always have the entire look from the dress to the tights to the purse and more.

7.   “When are we going to be there?” We’ve all heard it. Let’s be honest, we have all gone on a long road trip in a car growing up with the family.  Hypothetically, if you drove across the country, what 3 items could you never live without?  AND if someone was driving through Prestonburg – what 3 places should they stop and see?

CHERYL: 3 items I could never live without on a long road trip might sound funny because it is so simple:

1) Food  2) Family  3) Makeup

CHERYL: If someone were driving through Prestonburg, I would tell him or her to stop at these 3 great places:

1)  Jenny Wiley State Park – it is the home of Dewey Lake, and also has Jenny Wiley Amphitheater that sells out all of its plays. The amphitheater actually opens next week and it’s like going to Broadway in New York City (actors travel from all over the country to perform here).

2) Stonecrest Golf Course

3) Then probably our Mountain Arts Center that brings in musical entertainment of all kinds…from rock to country.  We even have our own contemporary Kentucky Opry.

4) BUT, if I could name a 4th place, they would have to come see me at Lad N’ Lassie

8.   Between all of the social media outlets – Facebook, Twitter, and more – what do you think about social networking and how it allows moms and dads to come together as a parenting community?

CHERYL: I think it is a great thing [cyber parenting communities].  I have had a couple of parents recently come into the store and bring brochures where they want to get together with other parents in online chat rooms or Facebook type parenting groups; especially when they are new in the community, it helps to networks.  These parents leave their email contact info and Facebook info on pamphlets and then they get together to meet new people. Overall, I think it is a wonderful idea! I am personally on Facebook. I am even a fan of Le Top on Facebook.

9.   What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your success?

CHERYL:
1) Great customer service and staff knowledge

2): Hard work. It’s not a 9-5 job…it is 24/7. I come back here so many nights to do paperwork or put up product – there is always something.  Throughout the day, I am with customers and there is never enough time in the day.  If someone says to you in the children’s retail world that they are bored, there is something wrong. 😉

3) You have TO HAVE a terrific working rapport with your sales reps and vendors and able to contact them.  I rely on them for so much, and I don’t know how many times a week I talk to them for something I need in the store.

10.   How do you select your products for the store?

CHERYL: I attend a lot of markets, such as the one in Atlanta, the local market in Lexington, Kentucky, as well as Nashville. My reps call me all the time and because of the trust I have with them over the years, they tell me about new products or lines coming out that they want me to look at; I always check it out and try to keep things new and fresh.

11.   What is one trend you are seeing now that you love and one that you want to go away for dressing children?

CHERYL: The trend I love is color and whimsy!  I love clothing that makes a child look like a child.  Le Top customers always ‘ooh and ahh’ over the design and quality.

As for something I’m not a fan of? I want to see children look like children.  I tend to steer away from the ‘adult’ looking clothing. I understand for older kids such as older girls that are 11-years-old to dress them up a bit like a young adult (trust me they love the “bling” and over the top items), but I can’t help but like cute clothing for kids!

12.   If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?

CHERYL: It is 24/7 and you have to love what you are doing. People ask me everyday about wanting to get into the business.  They say to me that they want to do this everyday, but sometimes I think they want to dress their children wholesale (ha, ha!), but it’s a lot more than that!

13. You probably have had many mommies and their children come in and out of your store doors – what is one of the funniest things you have heard come out of parent or child’s mouth?

CHERYL: We laugh everyday in our store, but it’s hard to pinpoint one particular moment.  I should keep a journal of it!

Shown here are pieces from rabbitmoon's Blossom and Passage collections.

14.   What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?

CHERYL: You know there has been a few – I have had quite a few parents who have had newborns and left directly from the hospital and their first stop (before home) was my store to see me and I can see their new baby. It is so SWEET.

The other moment that I love is that most of the kids who come to our store never refer to my store as Lad N’ Lassie because we have a great play area for kids inside the store – they always say they want to go to, “Cheryl’s and play.”  They come happy and leave crying and that is special to me that they enjoy coming here. One parent the other day told me she asked her child what he wanted to do today and he said, “I want to go to Cheryl’s!” We have a train set, Melissa and Doug toys, full kitchen with dishes, shopping cart, play table for Lego blocks, baby dolls and strollers, and more! The kids go to that area and we don’t hear a peep (plus the parents can shop easily)!

15.   What collection or piece from Le Top and/or rabbitmoon are you loving from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?

CHERYL: From Le Top, I love the Tulip Garden for girls and for boys Sail Away. In rabbitmoon I love the girls Cupcake collection and for boys I love Passage.  Rabbitmoon has become one of my top selling lines.  I think because it has a whole different look with its patterned designs and of course, the parents all talk about the ‘super soft feel.’ I get it [rabbitmoon] in the store and they just LOVE it.

Lad N’ Lassie
A Children’s Boutique
188 West Court Street
Prestonsburg, KY 41653
606.886.3142

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VISIT THEIR NEW ONLINE BOUTIQUE!
LAUNCHES TODAY @http://magnoliacharlie.net
 

Three, Four Knock on Magnolia Charlie’s door!  Check out our 4th premier retailer in our “Store Spotlight” series where we feature one Le Top’s best stores of the week.  Not only did they JUST launch their online boutique TODAY (where you can buy the best-of-the-best of children’s and baby clothing) – we were lucky enough to get an exclusive inside “peek” of images of her latest arrivals in her freestanding boutique in California! 

 

Karen Seeber, owner of Magnolia Charlie, gives us the So Cal low-down on what any good mommy, daddy and kiddie shoppers would want to know, plus what she would bring to a deserted island if she sailed away from Balboa Island, California! 

1.   What made you decide to enter the children’s business?
Karen: My love of children’s clothing… I had 2 children and another on the way. Everyone told me how beautiful my children were always dressed and they never knew where to shop.  So I decided to open a children’s store. 

2.   What was your background prior to this business?
Karen: I was a mom who could not find traditional style clothing so I opened Magnolia Charlie in 1997. My husband, David, a builder transformed the store into a beach cottage. I knew the look of the store was just as important as the merchandise I carry. Everything had to blend together. 

3.   The name of your store reminds of me of a Charlie’s Angels but sweet – where did the name come from?
Karen: Magnolia Charlie is a town in the south… I love the south with all their smocking, appliqués and southern hospitality – so, I wanted to bring that to Balboa Island, California. 

4.   The harbour looks beautiful in Balboa Island, describe the neighborhood your store is in for us.
Karen: Our neighborhood is small town AMERICA with a lot of tourist from all over the world. The people we meet are incredible. They come back to shop year after year whether on vacation or business.  We are always making new friends. 

5.   Who is your target customer? Do you specialize in any certain types of product?
Karen:
Our target customers are grandmothers… they want their grandchildren to look like children. All completely dressed from head to toe.  We carry a wide variety of smocking and appliquéd dresses, shortalls and capri sets – all with coordinating bows, hats and shoes. 

6.   Having a store in Southern California you tend to dress the warm weather type of babies who love the water, whether it be the beach or sailing – what would you say are the 3 essential clothing items for any baby or child?
Karen: Our beach babies always need sunhats, sweater or sweatshirts.  We always seem to have a sea breeze blowing and it gets cool in the mornings and evenings.  

Magnolia Charlie features set from Le Top Baby Pretty Sea Pony, Sweet Little Rosebud, and the Cherie collections

7.   What products do your clientele like the most?Karen: Our customers like the WOW factor whenever they are giving a gift. They like dresses, capri sets, rompers, etc. all to have coordinating pieces so the child is dressed complete. That’s why Le Top does so well for us because of the coordinating hats and toys.  

8.   Any Celebrity customers over the years or do you have any celebs buying right now?
Karen:
We have so many celebrities and athletes who shop with us. What an honor to see our clothing on their children whether walking around town or in magazines. 

9.   If you were a new mom and sailed away on one of the cute boats from Balboa Island and got stranded on a deserted island – what 5 items could you not live without?
Karen:
Stranded on a deserted island? I could not live without…the cutest swimsuit with matching cover-up, coordinating sunhat, jog suit and my monogrammed beach towel. 

10.   Between all of the social media outlets – Facebook, Twitter, and more – what do you think about social networking and how it allows moms and dads to join cyber parenting communities where they can meet, gain knowledge, as well as get recommendations and support.
Karen:
I’m just learning about Facebook and Twitter…I think it is great for new moms and dads!    

11.   Do you think that you will make the big leap soon and have Magnolia Charlie join Facebook? You know Le Top will be your first fan!
Karen:
Someday we will join Facebook! I will keep you updated more on what I think about the cyber mommy and daddy world once I join! 😉 

12.   What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your success?
Karen:
  My 3 keys to success: 

  1. Customer Service – Having an incredible sales staff that is always kind and knowledgeable about the merchandise. We will do anything for our customers.  Even if we have to go to another store to find it!
  2. Store Appearance – Your front window tells the world who you are.  Always keep your displays fresh and merchandise the walls where every grouping tells a story and color palette.
  3. Knowledge – Know the fashion industry and always keep learning.

13.   How do you select your products for the store? Do you find that there is a difference between your online boutique consumers for your brand versus your typical store consumer?
Karen:
I buy what I love and what I would put on my children.  Each season I have fun and pick a theme – this season it was “Nautical” – the Le Top ‘DAISY DUCK’ group was incredible.  Our web site with ecommerce capabilities is launching today!  Visit us at: http://magnoliacharlie.net/ and check out our latest arrivals to buy online! 

14.   What is one trend you are seeing now that you love and one that you want to go away for dressing children?
Karen:
The trend I am seeing right now are parents buying simple, fun clothing, yet traditional in style.  Traditional clothing never goes out of style.  You can always add a bit of “trendy” to make it your own style. 

Showing off pieces from the Le Top Ribbit and the Le Top Baby Choo Choo Zoo collections

15.  If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?
Karen:
My advice would be to read and talk to as many people as you can in this profession. I learned from the best … Mr. Pete Frasca (He was the original kid’s sales clothing representative that taught me about the children’s industry way back when). 

Special Note from Le Top: Le Top values our sales representatives as being a very special part of the Le Top family.  As much as we value our sales representatives, we equally value our retail customers like Magnolia Charlie.  We think the relationships that are developed over the years are extraordinary and continue to make the Le Top family exceptional, loving and a unique children’s community. 

16.   You probably have seen thousands of mommies and their children come in and out of your store doors – what is one of the funniest things you have heard come out of parent or child’s mouth?
Karen:
I can’t think of a thing at the moment… But what I do know is that you never know what a child will say… 

17.   What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Karen:
My memorable moments is when I see customers from all over the country come back and buy entire wardrobes for their grandchildren and they say, “I will see you in 6 months for another season!” I love them all. 

18.   What collection or piece from Le Top and rabbitmoon are you loving from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?
Karen:
It is hard to pick one group because we do so well with Le Top. I would say Le Top’s Spring/Summer 2010 collection of Daisy Duck, and Lots O’ Fish too! 

MAGNOLIA CHARLIE
317 Marine Avenue
Balboa Island, CA 92662
949.673.0066 

SHOP TODAY ON THEIR NEWLY LAUNCHED
ONLINE BOUTIQUE AT
http://magnoliacharlie.net/
 

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