Posts Tagged ‘children’s retail store’

This little Le Top piggy went to market to interview one of our favorite premier store retailers for this Friday’s “Store Spotlight” – Tiny Toes.  Boutique mother, Tina Lewis and daughter, Karen Jacobs, tell us about working as a mother and daughter duo business, what Karen packed away in her lunch (and what melted), and what’s hot from the Le Top Fall 2010 collection.


1.     Where did the name Tiny Toes come from?
Karen: A mother and grandmother’s “mild” obsession with my sons little toes. 🙂

2.     How long have you been working as mother and daughter duo in the business? How would you describe the benefits of “keeping the business in the family”?
Karen: We started the store together just over 4 years ago and are still going strong.  We love helping new moms select all the gear and goodies for their new arrivals–particularly when they come shopping with their moms.  We each bring something different to the table, whether it is a different perspective on what moms versus grandmoms like to buy or our skills in merchandising versus marketing. 

3.     What is one special or fun fact about your store that a typical customer wouldn’t know?
Karen: Our fixture system came from IKEA, so by the time we opened our doors we had assembled a collection of over 200 Allen wrenches.  We still have them should you ever find yourself in need of one.

4.     What sets you apart as a successful children’s store?
Karen: We really make an effort to get to know our customers. We work hard to remember things like grandchildren’s sizes, who loves which brands, what outfits have already been purchased by other family members and more.  We have wonderful customers and we really enjoy going the extra mile to make their shopping experience special and fun.

5.     Describe the neighborhood of Bel Air, Maryland where your store is located.
Karen: Bel Air is a sleeper suburb of Baltimore. We’re a bit in the country, but with great access to both Baltimore and Philadelphia. Our store is located on a historic main street with lots of other independent shops.  The area is continuing to grow and expand and we have been very fortunate to be part of this growth.

6.     Back to school is here – do you remember what you wanted to wear on your first day of school or a childhood memory of your first day at school? Can you share a picture of how your mother dressed you when you were a child?
Karen: Per my mom–a yellow polly flinders dress–I hope the photos have all gone missing 🙂

7.      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?
Karen: One time in kindergarten we were given ice cream for a special treat.  I couldn’t finish mine, so I packed it back up in my lunchbox and brought it home for later. You can only imagine the mess mom found when she opened that lunch box.

8.     What tip would you give to a parent dressing a child for fall? Any hot trends?
We love separates for back-to-school time. September can still be hot, so we love to find short sleeve tees, tops and dresses that will work for a great “fall” back to school photo but that can be layered later on and worn throughout the fall and winter season.  And we’re always on the look out for lines that bridge the gap between comfort (number one priority for the pre-school set) and fashion.

9.     If you had one piece of advice for someone trying to break into children’s retail, what would it be?
Karen: Ask tons of questions-of your sales reps, other store owners, other businesses in your area.  It’s amazing what you can learn from others experience.  Once you are open ask those questions of your customers–they continue to be our best source of information on what will work in our store.

10.     What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
We have a photo board in our store where customers post pictures of their children in Tiny Toe’s outfits.  We love seeing the children who we dressed for coming home (from the hospital) now come in shopping for pre-school outfits. Having a small part in creating special memories for those families is one of our favorite parts of the job.

11.     What collection or piece from Le Top or Le Top Baby line do you love from the Fall/Holiday 2010 collection?
Karen: The Pocket Full of Posies dress with tights and coordinating cardigan.

Le Top Pocket Full of Posies ensemble

Tiny Toes
4 North Main Street
Bel Air, MD 21014

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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?

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

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We are launching “Store Spotlight” today and will 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! 

This week we interviewed one of New York City’s finest boutiques, Granny-Made.  Visit our Facebook page @ http://www.facebook.com/pages/le-top/117553138255670 to preview our new video mini webisode introducing owner, Michael Rosenberg and head buyer, Adele Salzberg from Granny-Made!

We want to give you the inside scoop on Granny-Made’s latest and greatest news, and what YOU don’t know about one of New York’s hottest children’s stores.  

1.     Granny-Made is a distinctive store name – does it have a special history?
Michael: Well yes, I named it after my grandmother.  She was my Muse and my Inspiration.  I left the corporate world in ‘85 to start the business with her sweater designs.  I remember it was a hand-made catalogue of her sweater designs…I had a small contractor who produced them, and then I decided to advertise [the product] in The New York Times, The New Yorker and Harper’s Bazaar.  The press had a great reaction and the brand took off.  The store was named after her and actually my brother and I came up with the name!

2.     Describe the neighborhood your store is in. 
Adele: The upper side of Manhattan demographically has more young families with children than any other neighborhood in New York.  It is ethnically mixed and there are a lot of multiple births – lots of twins and even some triplets!  There are a lot of great schools, so it is a very desirable neighborhood.  It is the perfect location for a children’s store such as Granny-Made.

3.     Who is your target customer? Do you specialize in any certain types of product?
Adele: What I have found when I started working at Granny-Made is that Michael’s idea was to have very unique store with women’s sweaters. As I saw what the neighborhood was becoming over the years because of so many families with children, I thought it would be only natural to take an approach of [including] childrenswear.  What we wanted to create was a very special store where you could find merchandise that no one else carried.  We have now become the “go to store” for gifts, special occasion and novelty.  My background has always been novelty, which is why in particular le·top performs so well, because no one does novelty better than you [le•top].

4.     What products do your clientele like the most?
We do 20% volume toys, 20% is dresses and 20% of our volume is onesies and our business is anywhere from newborn up to size 8 for childrenswear.

5.     Any celebrity customers over the years or do you have any celebs buying right now?
Adele: Oh! Lot’s and lots! Well, we have had Julia Roberts, Stanley Tucci, Isabella Rosallini, Frank Langella, Richard Kind, and Cynthia Nixon to name a few!

6.     What’s coming up for Granny-Made? I heard you are moving your store location – what will the new store offer?
Adele: The new store is on Amsterdam Avenue between 82nd and 83rd Street and the new address is: 467 Amsterdam Avenue.  I feel that as the children grow, we are growing, and we will now be offering up to size 10.  We’re also have started to offer christening items, which is not available at that many stores. When people ask for something – we bring it in!  We are also going to branch out into special little sparkly shoes to match the cute dresses we carry – pretty much whatever the customer wants, we will do.

Michael: We will also have small furniture, toy boxes, little chairs, something more unique, such as customized rocking chairs.

7.      You have a remarkable history and have been around 25 years, do you have any special plans or events for your anniversary?
Michael:  We will be making the new move to 82nd Street!  We plan on having a celebration after Labor Day with an opening party and champagne! Stay tuned.

8.     What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your 25 year success?
Adele: Well…we are very unique in that:

•   We give amazing customer service – people know that when they come here they will be properly taken care of.
•   The quality of our merchandise is extraordinary – in fact, the Zagat has rated us as “E: extraordinary”.
•   From the beginning of the sale ’til the end, it is all about the SERVICE.

9.     How do you select your products for the store? 
Adele: Well, I shop all of the [childrens’] shows. Whenever a new vendor calls, I will always take the call and listen to what they can offer.  I also shop new resources. The business is constantly evolving and you need to constantly bring in new designers to keep it fresh. We are always one of the first to test a new designer.

Beautiful pieces from our rabbit moon 'passage' and 'fleur-de-lys' collections

10.     What is one trend you’re currently seeing with customers?
Michael: Our girls dress business has exploded! We are surrounded by little girl’s dresses in here!

Adele: In fact, the le·top girls’ dresses were among the first tested in our store, and have bought so many of them. When it comes to little boys, they don’t want the “cutesy” things, parents nowadays sometimes want them to look like little men.

Michael: With that said, it is not that we resist this trend [of little men], but little boys have plenty of time to look like dad.

Adele: Yes, we try to keep a balance between “cutesy” and “little men”, but for girls – they want it VERY girly.  What we hear a lot about our dresses from young women who walk into the store is, “I wish you had that [a little girl dress] in my size!”  The dresses we carry are very girly. We don’t want our little girls to look like they are going to a cocktail party; we want them to look like they are going to the Nutcracker [big smile].

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

  1. Do your homework.
  2. Find out who your customers is.
  3. Shop stores and see what is out there.
  4. Talk to your vendors – GET the information and don’t go into it blind. Research is one the most important things when opening a business.
  5. Talk to the other stores on the block – find out traffic patterns.
  6. Walk around the neighborhood – see how many baby carriages, how many toddlers, and do your homework!

12.     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?
Adele: “I Want IT, I want it, I WANT IT!”

13.     What are your top 3 fashionista tips for dressing a child?

  1. When it comes to toddler girls – they only wear 3 colors: pink, pink and PINK. So, make sure you have pink!
  2. When it comes to boys, they like dinosaurs and trucks.
  3. It is important to have the right accessories for your perfect outfit – the dress, the hat, the tights, and the sweater – the perfect assortment to complete the outfit!  That’s what is so great about le·top is that you have all of the merchandise to “build the right package/outfit”.

14.     And your #1 kid fashion “no-no”?
Adele: Dress your child as children – they don’t stay children very long!

Michael: The reason we carry up to size 10 is because lots of children can wear bigger size childrenswear, and until they get up to the teen years where parents don’t have a lot of say on what their kids wear, parents still want that “say” and influence on their clothing. For us that is important.

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

Michael and Adele [together]: That is hard! Every day is a special day here.

Adele:I just love it when they come in here and tell us they love our shop. I love it when they just get off the plane from Oklahoma and they say, “This is my first stop and I come to your store first.”  Every day, just the joy of making the customer happy and making the sale is Marvelous.

Swimsuit from the le•top Gone Fishin' Spring collection

Michael: Yes, it is truly gratifying. Now we are seeing the children that were growing up the last two dozen years coming in here now with their own children, and now their parents are grandparents… just moving on to the next generation is great!

16.    What collection or piece from le•top do you love right now from the Spring 2010 collection?
We love your duck collection [for Spring].  Nobody does ducks better! For Fall 2010, I can’t wait for your bomber aviator jacket to hit the store.

Visit our Facebook page @ http://www.facebook.com/pages/le-top/117553138255670 and put a face with the name from our latest interview.  Preview our latest “Store Spotlight” video webisode introducing owner, Michael Rosenberg and head buyer and connoisseur, Adele Salzberg.

Granny Made
381 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10024

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