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Posts Tagged ‘back to school’

We interviewed boutique owner, Susan Johnson, of Ideas and Objects in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on her style advice, on staying true to classic style with unique twists and how “trendy” isn’t always what the customer needs, her store’s top 3 “go-to” items that are must-haves for any parent this fall, and a smart way to keep your kiddo’s lunch pail fresh and cool. 

IDEAS and OBJECTS

252 Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17101
717.234.4505

CHECK-IN and
JOIN IDEAS and OBJECTS Boutique Facebook page and click
HERE


1.    Tell us the inspiration behind starting your shop?
Susan: 
Having worked for years in the visual merchandising and store design arena, I recognized a missing venue for contemporary “neat stuff.”  IDEAS and OBJECTS was born In 1987 when I decided to try my hand at the ownership of a specialty shop featuring unique objects with BOTH contemporary form and great function for work and play, for young and old. This platform soon expanded to include some wearables for women and children. Here I am, nearly 24 years later, in a larger shop in the same building and the current merchandise mix is nearly 50/50 as to wearables and “objects.”

2.    Give us the inside scoop about any special events that you have planned for Labor Day Weekend or back-to-school, especially the fun deals we can expect.
Susan: 
At IDEAS and OBJECTS the holiday weekend is not a high traffic weekend. We have discovered that here in central Pennsylvania this weekend (and when I say weekend, I mean Saturday since we are in a city center that is closed on Sundays and Holidays) is one when our customers tend to grab hold of one of the last outdoor event celebrations of the summer season. As to back-to school and fun deals…Unlike the mass market merchants, our best deal is ongoing in the UNIQUE lines of quality fashions we offer and the seasonal timeliness of our wardrobing choices. And when it comes to fun, I like to think that it is ALWAYS FUN to shop our little store of wonders!!!

Display features Le Top's "Pizzazz" Collection tiered tunic and ribbed leggings

3.    Back-to-school is just around the corner – what are 3 trends you can tell parents to look for when buying their kids’ wardrobe?
Susan:  
Looks like leggings and tunics are a strong trend, but some say that plaids may be finding a renewed appeal (although I am not convinced the youth think it is so, and I hear about a surprising fondness for the 70’s influence remaining). Of course the proverbial tees and jeans are still all too popular from my point of view. As in season’s past, we do not fit well into the “trendy” shoppers world, other than the fact that we do have delicious tunics and legging sets!! I have always shopped the market determined not to sell something just because the media is intent on dictating it as a “must have.” I do lean towards the bold and contemporary colors and patterns, but the lines and items I choose are based first on QUALITY, second on UNIQUENESS AND STYLE, and then PRICE.

4.    Please tell us 1 easy tip or snack/meal for a child’s back-to-school lunchbox.
SusanMy parental favorite was always “lunch money” back in the days when buying a school lunch meant a hot CAFETERIA MEAL, rather than pizza, candy and soda “food court” selections. Have to admit my lunch packing was rather ho-hum except for a little note or an unexpected sweet treat from time to time. I do like insulated lunch ”boxes” so that veggies and dip, mayo dressings and or salads, etc. stay cool. So my tip for a COOL lunch would be that when you are including a drink, try buying smaller plastic bottles of water or juice and put them in the freezer the night before. Partially frozen, they will be thawed before lunchtime and will also act as an ice pack even in an un-insulated lunch carrier.

5.    Tell us…before you “had kids or grandkids, what is one thing you swore you’d never…?” Please share!
Susan: 
Reply with “BECAUSE I SAID SO!!!” to any question they may ask. I will admit I failed in keeping this vow to myself. And come to think of it, my daughter probably regrets my shortcoming even more than I do.

6.    What is your top selling 3 “go-to” items at your store currently?
Susan: 
Rabbitmoon and Le Top are always favorites, with extra applause for the boy/girl brother and sister groups! Grandparents are especially excited when we give them a call that we have something to “match” for their sibling or cousin grans. The fuchsia fleece jackets by Mack & Co are getting many “oohs and ahhhhhs” and the cordy plush from Jellycat and the Zolo line of creative playthings remain strong staples.

7.    Describe the neighborhood of your store location in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Did you grow up in the local area?
Susan:  
IDEAS and OBJECTS is located in Strawberry Square, a mixed use city center in downtown Harrisburg. The center adjoins the Hilton Hotel and we are but a stone’s throw from the state capitol complex. I grew up about an hour from Harrisburg in a small (population 1,000 or so when I grew up) rural Lancaster County town, Terre Hill. I was the oldest of 4 girls and although we did not have extensive wardrobes or many shopping trips, that which we had was most often bought in family owned specialty shops!

8.    Tell us about a “special” moment that made your day working at your store.
Susan: 
There have been so many…and the highlights truly have nothing to do with large sales. My best moments are the personal ones that convince me that we are a people, not just a business at IDEAS and OBJECTS. The thank you notes, the photos, the tales of good and bad, its the people moments that make it all worthwhile. Not so long ago a college-aged student came into my store and was just beaming as she looked around. She was between trains (Amtrak is a block away) and came to Strawberry Square to see if the shop was still here. She had moved away over 10 years ago, but had fond memories of her mother bringing her to the shop. As I and the shop grow older, it is good to be reminded that we are part of a family of customers with good memories.

9.    Where are the best/essential family hangouts and places to go around your store location?
Susan: 
Our neighborhood’s best include the Whitaker Center, that is home to an IMAX theatre, Science Center and Performance Theater and Gamut Theatre, home of the Popcorn Hat Players wonderful children’s theatre.

rabbitmoon's "Harmony" collection print swing dress

10.    What Le Top or rabbitmoon Fall 2011 collection is your store’s favorite and why?
Susan: 
The bold color of the Le Top’s Pizzazz collection “big dot” group makes me smile, while the current customer favorite is the Harmony collection from rabbitmoon.


IDEAS and OBJECTS

252 Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17101
717.234.4505

 CHECK-IN and JOIN
IDEAS and OBJECTS Facebook page
and click
HERE

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Calm after-school hunger with nutritious, easy, and tasty snacks your scholarly tykes are sure to enjoy. Voila!

Ham & Apple Wraps Recipe – just 15 minutes!
Serving Size: 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored, quartered, and cut into 16 equal-size wedges
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into 16 pieces
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced deli ham, cut lengthwise into sixteen 1-inch strips

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a small bowl, stir together yogurt and mustard until smooth; set dip aside.
  • On one apple wedge, center a piece of cheese; wrap tightly around middle with a strip of ham.
  • Repeat with remaining apple, cheese, and ham.’Serve with dip on the side.

 

Cinnamon Tostada Recipe
Serving Size: 2

Kids (and grown-ups, too) will love this updated version of cinnamon toast.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 (10-inch) whole-wheat tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter, room temperature

DIRECTIONS:

  • Heat broiler, with rack 4 inches from heat. Place tortillas on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Dividing evenly, spread butter on one side of each tortilla; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  • Broil until sugar is golden brown and has melted, 1 to 2 minutes. (Tortillas will puff under broiler and become flat again once taken out.) Cut each tortilla into wedges.

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With kids going back to school – get them in the mood for learning with these two fun easy science projects!

This post has been moved to out website. To view the full post go to:
http://blog.letop-usa.com/?p=20976

CHECK OUT LE TOP BABY AND CHILDREN’S CLOTHING
BY CLICKING HERE

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Gear up, because back-to-school is around the corner, and if there is one store you can use as your “one-stop shop”…it’s Baby Bundles! They have two fabulous locations in Knoxville, Tennessee and Lexington, Kentucky – double the fashion, and double the fun. We spoke with co-owners and kids fashion gurus: Sherri, Margaret and Marie to get the low-down on children’s warm-weather fashion, upcoming deals at their stores and the “do’s” and “don’ts” in dressing the most fashionable baby and kiddo.

 Store Locations:
7600 Kingston Pike, #1460
Knoxville, TN 37919
865.690.4454

161 Lexington Green, Suite B3
Lexington, KY 40503
859.309.0459

 or go to shopbabybundles.com for more information

CHECK-IN and JOIN Baby Bundles Lexington’s Facebook page and click HERE

Baby Bundles in Knoxville

1.    What was your inspiration behind opening your two children’s clothing stores – how long have each been open and do they cater to different clientele?
Baby Bundles:
  Baby Bundles was started in Knoxville, Tennessee ten years ago by Sherri. Sherri wanted a store that would offer a comprehensive one-stop shopping experience for parents looking for specialty items. In 2010, Sherri partnered with Baby Bundles Manager, Margaret and her sister Marie to open Baby Bundles in Lexington, Kentucky. Both stores offer traditional and trendy children’s apparel. While the stores are in different locations, the spirit of the clientele remains essentially the same. Our customers range from new parents to grandparents looking for a local shopping experience from a knowledgeable sales staff, whose primary goal is to assist them in selecting merchandise that reflects their child’s unique style and spirit.

2.    Tell us the inside scoop about any special events that you have planned at your two stores and e-boutique this coming summer and fun deals we can expect.
Baby Bundles: 
 As we wind down summer, Baby Bundles Lexington will be hosting our “One is Fun” First Birthday Party. The event will feature an Alex’s Lemonade Stand hosted by local pre-school students, a petting zoo and visit from local horse hero, Lash, who has recently been made into a plush doll. We will follow that event with a visit with silhouette artist Clay Rice in October.

3.    What are this season’s latest trends for kid’s clothing in Kentucky? Tell us the 3 “do’s” and 3 “don’ts” in kid clothing style.
Baby Bundles:
 

Do’s…

  1. Accessorize…a great hair bow, headband or cute tights can make the outfit. 
  2. Invest in a pair of Monkey Bar Buddies to go with your Le Top dress. The underwear covers come in great colors and are perfect for back to school. 
  3. Let your child have voice in which outfits to purchase…you are never too young to take pride in how you look. 

Don’ts…

  1. Don’t dress your child above their age. As we tell our customers, “Children are only small for a short period time.” Celebrate childhood by selecting age appropriate clothing.
  2. Don’t be afraid to purchase brother and sister matching outfits. Le Top has cute designs that our customers with siblings love.
  3. Don’t forget to purchase a white sweater. This simple purchase can help your child’s wardrobe transition into different seasons.

Baby Bundles in Lexington

4.    Why did you pick the name Baby Bundles for your stores?
Baby Bundles: 
The original concept was to offer a one-stop shop where parents could buy a variety of specialty store items for their children. The word bundles seemed to work with the original mission and then baby seemed to be a natural fit. 

5.    Tell us…before you “had kids or grandkids, what is one thing you swore you’d never…?” Please share!
Baby Bundles: 
We can’t really think of anything. I guess all three of us just gave up hope of controlling every situation and just decided to enjoy the ride.

6.    Describe the neighborhoods of each of your store locations. Did you grow up in any of the 2 local areas?
Baby Bundles: 
The Knoxville store is located in the West Town Mall, Knoxville’s premier shopping center. The Lexington store is located in the Mall at Lexington Green, which primarily caters to locally owned boutiques and businesses. Sherri grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee and Margaret and Marie grew up just outside of Lexington. Marie still resides in Kentucky. 

7.    What would you say are the top 3 requested clothing and/or accessory items requested from your store this summer?
Baby Bundles:

  • Texture was a primary concern of customers this summer. Soft knits from Le Top were great sellers because of they feel great and are easy to care for. 
  • Le Top bathing suits with matching cover-ups
  • Big Sister and Little Sister outfits that compliment without matching exactly. 

8.    Tell us about a “special” moment that made your day working at your store.
Baby Bundles: 
Having to name just one is hard. Perhaps the most memorable was when a Knoxville customer who traveled regularly from Eastern Kentucky to shop learned that we were opening a store in Lexington. She was so excited that she starting jumping up and down and waving her hands like the head cheerleader on game day!

Le Top "Ship Ahoy!" swim trunk, shirt and anchor cover-up


9.    Where are the best/essential family hangouts and places to go around your store locations?
Baby Bundles:  
When in Knoxville, stop by and ride the train that travels around the West Town Mall. When in Lexington, a stop by Fro Joes for fresh frozen yogurt, feed the ducks at our big pond, or visit Shilito Park that is just down the street.

10.    What Le Top or rabbitmoon Spring/Summer 2011 collection is your store’s favorite and why?
Baby Bundles:
Our favorite was the Ship Ahoy! Collection. It was ideal for boys and girls from newborn through size 6. Whether land locked or beach bound just looking at it made us think of the perfect summer day!


Baby Bundles Store Locations:
7600 Kingston Pike, #1460
Knoxville, TN 37919
865.690.4454

161 Lexington Green, Suite B3
Lexington, KY 40503
859.309.0459

 or go to shopbabybundles.com for more information

 CHECK-IN and JOIN Baby Bundles Lexington’s Facebook page and click HERE

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It’s that time of year again, time to think about back-to-school and WHICH school. Lilah has been in Montessori for the last year. She is now 4 ½ and could start Kindergarten in public school this fall but her Montessori has a Kindergarten program as well. What to do? I’ve been reading many parent blogs and other forums about what has worked or not for their little ones and I’ve been talking to the other parents about this subject. About half of Lilah’s class and close friends are heading off for different schools but for a variety of reasons. Here are some reasons parents are taking or not taking their 4-5 year-old children from Montessori.

Reasons to Leave:

  1. Their local public school is good and the money paid for Montessori can be used for other things like sports, music and dance classes.
  2. Their child is already 5 and they are moving them to another private school that starts at K. Depending on what level they test at the child may move to K or 1st, plus they have been at Montessori for 3 years now and have reached a high level.
  3. Some feel their child will be going to the local public school for 1st grade so if they move now they can start making new friends and get them used to the structure of public school.
  4. The general thinking is that if your child is at a good Montessori they may already be academically ahead of public school kids. Grade skipping is rare so if they move to public school earlier the child won’t be so far ahead that they are bored

Reasons to Stay:

  1. The Montessori program is a full day for Kindergarten (where public is only a half day). Their child is happy (and excelling) where they are AND afternoon child care is not needed. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
  2. Many children have been looking forward to being the oldest (and wisest) child at the Montessori. This is their chance to take younger children under their wing and for them to solidify the lessons and habits learned in the previous year(s).
  3. If your local public school is not a good fit (either academically or socially) this gives time to find a public or private elementary school that does fit. To switch schools now just to have them switch again next year would only disjoint their lives. Kids need stability and structure.
  4. Since there is a good chance my child will be academically advanced when she starts public school she will have energy to focus on meeting new friends. True there will be a different type of structure in public school but for any child moving from K to 1st grade sitting in assigned desk will be new. If she can follow instructions, and have a good attention span and social skills she will adjust when the time comes.

Did any of you have to make this decision? What are your thoughts on this subject?

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The past couple of years Le Top employees have supported a program near and dear to our hearts through Volunteers of America, called Operation Backpack. The program collects necessary back-to-school supplies and disburses them to Greater Sacramento, CA area homeless and disadvantaged families, as well as agencies and school districts. I know summer has just started but the new school year is fast approaching and these children are lacking the basics to start school off on the right track. Operation Backpack is accepting filled backpacks or supplies from July 8-22, 2011. If you or a group you are involved in would like to donate or participate see how you do it below (taken from the Volunteers of America website.)

Give Back. Give a Pack.

1. Individuals

  • Pick a school supply list.
  • Purchase a new backpack filled with school supplies according to the grade level of your choice.
  • Securely tag the backpack with the school supply list and bring to one of the participating drop-off locations between July 8 and 22.

2. Groups – Join the 100 Pack!

  • The 100 Pack celebrates Volunteers of America’s 100th anniversary of providing human services in Greater Sacramento. By joining today, your group commits to sponsoring its very own Operation Backpack drive, and collecting as many new backpacks and school supplies as possible.
  • Introduce your personal network of friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and social groups to Operation Backpack and start today!

Volunteer

  • Volunteers are crucial to the success of Operation Backpack. Starting in late-June, and continuing through the first week of August, volunteers are needed to fulfill a variety of roles, including: Runners; Sorters; and Pick-a-Pack Day Event Assistants.
  • For more details and to sign up, please visit the Operation Backpack Volunteer page.

Support Kids Now!

  • Don’t have time to shop or volunteer, but still want to make a difference? Visit the online donation page to make a contribution today!

For additional information on Operation Backpack, please see the list of supporting pages to the left, or contact them at OperationBackpack@voa-sac.org, or 916.442.3691.

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It’s fun, it’s cute, it’s high quality…and no returns!”
– Lori Clarke, Owner of Tot to Teen Village boutique (on why she loves Le Top)

1.      What is one special or fun fact about your store that a typical customer wouldn’t know?
Lori: We’ve been in business for 74 years, and owned now by a third generation.

2.      Describe the neighborhood of Kalamazoo, Michigan where your store is located. The name has a great ring to it! Can you name 3 fun facts about your town your store is located in?
Lori: 
Fact #1) President Obama came to our town in June for one of our local school’s graduation because our state offers free college tuition for graduating students to Michigan schools.

Fact #2) The baseball player Derek Jeter was raised in Kalamazoo.

Fact #3) We have lots of lakes for fishing, boating, and water sports.

3.      What sets you apart as a successful children’s store?
Lori: We offer items that people cannot find at your typical stores. We’re unique!

4.      Where did the name Tot to Teen Village come from?
Lori: The owner designed the inside of the store to reflect different parts of the U.S.A.

5.      Back to school is here – what has been flying off the shelves and this fall’s “must-have”?
Lori: For girls, it is anything purple and “fru-fru.”

6.      Tell us about the school lunches your mom or dad made for you when you were a kid? What would someone find inside your brown paper bag or tin lunch box?
Lori: I seldom took my lunches to school as a child – our cafeteria food was pretty good. If I did take a lunch, it was always a bologna sandwich with Miracle Whip and a Hostess Twinkie…and no fruit because I hate fruit.

7.      What tip would you give to a parent dressing a child for fall? Any hot trends?
Lori: Don’t fight with them! Let them be comfortable, and buy easy-to-care-for items (merchandise). That way, everyday dressing is easier.

8.      If you had one piece of advice for someone trying to break into children’s retail, what would it be?
Lori: Are you insane? Actually I would say: You can’t be everything, so pick a niche and do it well.

9.      What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Lori: Finding out I was having a granddaughter, and going crazy buying clothes for her! (my “bring-me-home” I bought was of course Le Top.)

10.      What collection or piece from Le Top or Le Top Baby line do you love from the Fall/Holiday 2010 collection?
Lori: My favorites are the Le Top baby Pretty Rosebuds collection and Lavender’s Blue.

Tot to Teen Village
229 W. Kilgore Rd.
Kalamazoo, MI 49002
(269) 381-7800
www.tottoteenvillage.com

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