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Archive for the ‘Shoes’ Category

First I had a daughter, then 5 years later, I had a son. As far as hand-me-down clothes from my girl to my boy, it’s almost non-existent. However, every now and then, I’d look inside my box of “keepers” and see if there’s anything my son can wear. Sometimes there might be a t-shirt or overalls. This time… success! I found shoes! The sneakers he’s wearing were my daughter’s, and Mommy happens to have a matching pair! So for few months, my daughter and I shared the experience of wearing our identical shoes together around town, loving the attention we got from other people. Now, my son and I can wear identical shoes too and bask in the attention as well. I love making memories like that!

Le Top Whales & Sails Nautical Striped Shirt & Canvas Board Short



Paulo is wearing his Le Top Whales & Sails Nautical Striped Shirt & Canvas Board Short.

Put some wind in his sails with this sweet nautical white and azure striped short sleeve tee and navy canvas pocketed board shorts that match swimmingly! Sailing ship appliqué with circular boat window vents keep him cool in warm weather. Soft rib neckline and elasticized waist for easy over-the-head and pull up dressing.

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We interviewed our first ever online premier retailer this week for our “Online Store Spotlight” – CrabApple.Kids.com.  Husband and wife team, James and Anna Incledon, Jr., tell us about their favorite Halloween costumes as kids, common questions from internet mommy and daddy shoppers and leather biker jackets for kids!  Read more to discover about CrabAppleKids.com.

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1.      What is one special or fun fact about your e-store that a typical customer wouldn’t know?
James:  Our children are the primary models for our website.

2.      How did you get into the online retail business? What inspired you? What sets you apart as a successful online children’s shop?
Anna:  We love shopping and our two daughters are always dressed to perfection!  People constantly compliment them on their attire.  Then, in preparing for the birth our son, we found it was difficult to find clothes that we liked for him.  It was at this point that we decided to enter the retail business–we could dress our children in the best of the best while making a business out of what we already love to do. 

What sets us apart from others?  We pride ourselves on providing excellent customer service.  Most companies today claim to offer great customer service, but we don’t feel the bulk of them truly understand what that means. For example, it is often difficult to find a customer service number or email address for an online business to even begin the process.  Or when you do finally email them, they don’t reply back.  If a customer has a question, concern or just doesn’t like placing an online order, we are here.  If we can’t help them immediately, we will get back to them in a timely manner.

Aside from great customer service, from a product point-of-view, we offer wonderful matching family and twin outfits and boy’s clothing.  The family and twin outfits are ideal if you have twins or multiple children of differing ages and want to dress them in outfits that have a similar look and feel, while not being completely identical. This way both mom and the children are happy!  We also specialize in designer boy’s clothing because we understand how hard it is to find boy’s clothes that aren’t limited to t-shirts (but we do have some of those too!).

We also pride ourselves on having a great collection brand-name Christening clothes. 

3.      Where did the name Crab Apple Kids come from?
James:  After dreaming up 397 names (yes, we actually have a list of every one we didn’t use), some of which just didn’t test well, and some of which were already taken, finding a unique name was a lot more challenging and time-consuming than we expected.  We actually placed some of our first orders under the “no name” company! 

Our ultimate inspiration came when we were doing some remodeling and looking through paint color names.  A small change to the name and Crab Apple Kids was born.

James and Anna's son, Parker (wearing Le Top Spring 2010 Hip Hop Grasshopper), inspired them to open Crab Apple Kids

4.      Back to school is here – what have been the most popular baby and child fall “must-have” items?
James:  Our most popular item has been the Harley-Davidson Biker Jacket.  But the new must-have is truly our Weboo Shoes.  We haven’t seen anything else like them in the market place.  They are the very definition of cool, hip and fun!  We also carry some unique birthday and baby shower gifts such as cereal bowls shaped like tires and eating utensils shaped like tools, tractors and airplanes.  Our WubbaNub and Billy-Bob pacifiers have also been a big hit.  And of course, we love our Le Top—Lots O’ Fish was a hot style for us.

5.      Do you do anything special for Halloween at your e-store? What is your favorite memory of a costume you wore as a child?
Anna:  We love Halloween, or for that matter, any holiday.  Our family often makes the newspapers and newsletters because of our excessive holiday spirit.  We have some great outfits that not only will make your Halloween Season festive, but can be worn beyond Halloween.  My favorite costume when was young?  A Hippy – I loved all the bright colors, big hair and peace sign jewelry.  My husband’s… the two-person Chinese dragon (he still can’t find anyone to be the butt).

6.      What tip would you give to a parent dressing a child for fall and how to pick the “right” outfit online?
Anna:  Children like to feel comfortable, no matter what age.  Whether they are one or eight years old – comfort is the key to a successful purchase.  Crab Apple Kids’ pride ourselves in the latest fashions with comfort in mind.  Our rule of thumb is if our children won’t wear it, then neither will our customer’s kids.  One of our favorite new items are jeggings–leggings that look like blue jeans.

7.      What questions do most mommies or daddies ask when buying for their baby online?
James:  Most questions are focused around comfort, size and matching sibling outfits.  There is no point in looking great if they are not comfortable.  Because we all know, an uncomfortable child is not a happy one.

8.      There are so many websites now that sell children’s clothing – If you had one piece of advice for someone trying to break into children’s online retail, what would it be?
James:  Don’t!  Seriously, it is a much more competitive business than we ever anticipated.  It requires a lot of start-up capital and patience.  Children’s clothing is not your typical drop ship business.  In most cases, you are ordering one season in advance of the next.  So you have to make a guesstimate of what you think your customers are going to buy, to avoid having too much or too little inventory.  And then when it finally does arrive, you need pay for it, warehouse it, photograph it, and write copy for it. And then, hopefully, ship it!  Online or not, at the end-of-the-day, both businesses require the same amount of work.

9.      What is the funniest request you have received from an online parent customer?
Anna: 
I can’t specifically think of one that is funny, but I can definitely think of one that is fun.  We recently had a bride call and request two of our Harley-Davidson Biker Jackets.  She shared with us that she was having a wedding with a 50s theme and that her nephews were going to be walking down the aisle in jeans, white t-shirts and our Harley-Davidson Biker Jackets.  How fun is that! 

10.      Why do you love Le Top? What collection or piece from Le Top or Le Top Baby line do you love from the Fall/Holiday 2010 collection?
Anna:  We love Le Top because of the great designs, comfort and value.  The collection we like the best from the Fall/Holiday 2010 line is the Haute Dog Collection.  It’s bright and fun…and what child doesn’t like puppies or dogs! 


Crab Apple Kids
http://www.crabapplekids.com/
847.551.1212
877.327.7533 toll free

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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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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.

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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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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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Today is the second in our new “Store Spotlight” series, where we feature a premiere le•top specialty retail store each week. Read more for an exclusive Q&A and “sneak peak” images of our featured store of the week!

Wickford - RI

This week we had the chance to interview one of Rhode Island and Connecticut’s finest boutiques, Teddy Bearskins. Meet the proud owners, Bob and Debra Semple and read about their 3 boutiques!

We want to give you the inside scoop on Teddy Bearskins’ latest and greatest news, and what YOU don’t know about a few of the East Coast’s cutest childrenswear stores.

1.     How did you get started with Teddy Bearskins?
Bob:
  Debra made all the clothes in our first store. I remember it was a very small store, but within 2 years, we had 2 bigger stores, and 3 stores after 5 years.

2.     What was your and Bob’s background prior to this business?
Debra:
 Bob was in advertising and sales management prior to entering the childrenswear business
Bob:  Deb was a home economics teacher, and also had a business degree. She [Deb] is by nature a fashion designer!

3.     Teddy Bearskins is a distinctive store name – does it have any special history?
Bob & Debra:
 The name Teddy Bearskins just had a great ring to it, and our favorite place was Bearskin Neck in Rockport, Massachusetts.

4.     Why Rhode Island and Connecticut? How did you pick these unique locations?
Debra:
  Bob moved to Rhode Island in 1983 for business, and unfortunately there were no teaching jobs. Our twins at the time were 3-years-old so we opted to start our own business.

5.     Describe the neighborhood your stores are in.

Mystic Village - CT

Bob & Debra:  Of our three stores, we would describe each as:

  1. Wickford Location ~ “Historic seaport village, and very quaint.”
  2. Mystic Location ~ “ A historic seaport and tourist area.” 
  3. Barrington Location ~ “A high-end village bedroom community of Providence.”

6.     Who is your target customer? Do you specialize in any certain types of product?
Debra:
  I would say our target customers are Grandparents, Parents, and Relatives of a newborn. We have a wide range of pricing.

7.     What products do your clientele like the most?
Bob:  Toys, shoes, and clothing from newborn to teenage.

8.     Any Celebrity customers over the years or do you have any celebs buying right now?
Bob & Debra:
  Jane Pauley, Montel Williams, several soap opera stars, and many professional sports athletes. Other clients include many of the Rhode Island TV personalities!

9.     What’s coming up for Teddy Bearskins? You have 3 stores and an online store – will there be a 4th store in the near future?
Bob & Debra:
  We are always considering some moves!

10.     You have a remarkable history having founded the first Teddy Bearskins store in 1983 – what makes Teddy Bearskins unique after all of these successful years?
Bob & Debra: 
We have everything you might need or want for your child or grandchild – from birth to size 20. We have customers from all over the country who stop in, call or even email us since they know we will have what they need or want.

Barrington - RI

 
11.     What do both you and Bob feel are the three biggest keys to your success?
Bob & Debra:
  1. Location
  2. Customer Service
  3. Hard Work, Hard Work, Hard Work!

12.     How do you select your products for the store?
Debra:
  I listen to my customers and also use my instinct and gut feelings.

13.     What is one trend you’re currently seeing with customers?
Debra:
  Simplicity.

14.     If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?
Bob & Debra:
  Make sure you know you will love retail. It’s 24/7, and if you do not want to put in 110%, do not open a store.

15.     What are your top 3 fashionista tips for dressing a child? And your #1 kid fashion “no-no”?
Bob & Debra:
 Keep it simple, give your child 3 choices, when asking their advice. And keep their personality in mind when making a selection. Do not give in to tantrums.

16.     You probably have seen thousands of parents and their children come in-and-out of all 3 of your store doors – what is one of the funniest things you have heard come out of parent or child’s mouth?
Bob & Debra: 
Nothing stands out at the moment. We have wonderful relationships with our customers, many laughs, great customers. It’s a big family and great fun. The kids always enjoy coming to our Teddy Bearskins locations.

17.     What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Debra:
  One of My favorite customers passed away and she requested in her eulogy that they mention how she loved Teddy Bearskins.

18.     What collection or piece from le•top and/or rabbitmoon do you love right now from the Spring 2010 collection?
Bob & Debra:
 Our favorite is the le•top boys Sail Away collection!

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Sarah's shoes

Great design is all about inspiration!  When Sarah, our Assistant Designer for le•top was in China with the Dragon Boat team, she was stimulated by the beauty and all the unique encounters.  Of course she always has her eye out for fashion…and we couldn’t resist sharing these fabulous shoes she found.  These one of a kind flats are made of cow hide, and have the kind of whimsy that makes them le•top extraordinary!  She wore them in to work the other day and I just had to snap a photo for you all to see!

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