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Posts Tagged ‘Toys’


The time finally arrived! My three-year old son has learned how to share. This is a picture of him sharing cars with a friend in his Mommy & Me class. I remember last year when he and two other boys would eye the same car/truck/train, look at each other, then dive for the toy as they each tried to yank it from each others’ grasps. Oh, boy! That was a nightmare because all the mommies had to deal with the crying, the fighting and giving our sons “The Talk” about sharing. It’s a good thing we mothers are all on the same page regarding this, and know that we need to teach our children how to play together.

A year later, I stand in the classroom with pride (and with my camera) as I listen to my son say, “Do you want this car?” and proceed to play nicely with his friend. He’s growing up!

Paulo is wearing the rabbitmoon “discover” striped zip hoody. For this comfy cotton layering piece and more mix and match stylish kid’s clothing go to www.rabbitmoon-usa.com.

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This week we headed to the mid-west to interview one of the chicest baby and children’s boutique’s in all of Chicago Illinois – Bellybum Boutique? Never been? Trust Ellen Sternweiler, store owner, on her killer instincts and excellent taste for children’s products, clothing, accessories and toys…your kiddo is sure to be styling and dressed to impress! She gave s the inside scoop on her store’s upcoming events and sales, the best items for parents shopping for a warm-weather winter vacation, and her favorite Rabbitmoon collection for spring! Read more below! 

Bellybum Boutique

4347 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60618
773.868.0944

www.bellybumboutique.com

CHECK-IN and JOIN Bellybum Boutique Facebook page and click HERE

 

Owner, Ellen Sternweiler

1.    Tell us the inspiration behind the name Bellybum Boutique? How long has your store been around?
I was trying to figure out a good name for a store that would specialized in everything for pre & postnatal moms and cloth diapers…hmmm…mama bellies & baby bums! Perfect 🙂

2.    Spring 2012 styles are coming into stores and brightening up any family’s winter wardrobe. What are your top 3 items (clothes, toys, giftables, etc.) for any parent shopping for warm weather items for a nice holiday vacation this winter?
Of course we always love receiving our new Rabbitmoon Collection — and this season will not disappoint (so cute)! We also just received a gorgeous new line of organic toys, blankets & clothing from Finn & Emma. Swaddle Designs blankets make great gifts: Soft and cozy, these 3-blanket cotton/fleece sets are perfect for any cool spring day. No mama’s ensemble will be complete this season without one of our gorgeous cardigans from Splendid! Lastly, I bet any sleep deprived parent can figure out why our “On-the-Go Sleep Sheep” are a must have…

3.    Any special events that you have planned at your store for spring? Tell us the inside scoop about any special events and especially the fun deals we can expect!
We like to have fun and surprise our customers…That said, you can expect more fun, and sometimes silly, Spring/Summer sales and events in addition to our current Winter Clearance sale. We are planning a big event in the Spring to celebrate the opening of our new Sensory Kids™ Store, and we are sponsoring the Autism Speaks Walk in June. Stay tuned for more information about walking with “Team Bellybum.” And, of course, if the weather continues to astound, we will surely bring back our ever-popular “Temperature Sale.”

4.    What is your “go-to” baby shower gift in your store for boys and girls?
Padalily car seat handle pads (for moms), Apple Park Organic Plush Rattles & Toys (for Babies), and Moby Wraps (for parents) are hands down customer favorites!

5.    What are your top 3 children’s movies or books and why?

  • ChittyChittyBangBang (still great after all these years!)
  • Jungle Book (who wouldn’t love Baloo?)
  • The Phantom Toll Booth (Read this! Then read it to your young children, then let them read it again when they can, then re-read it yourself…you’ll get something new from this every time. I promise)

6.    Tell us…before you “had kids or grandkids, what is one thing you swore you’d never…?”
Nurse or use cloth diapers. Now I own a store that specializes in those things. Go figure!

7.    Describe the neighborhood of your store location in Chicago, Illinois? Did you grow up in the local area?
I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Now, after 20 years in Chicago, I finally consider myself a Chicagoan (though I’ve gotta admit I’m still an Indians and Cavs fan). I love the Lincoln Square/Northcenter neighborhood where my store is located and where I live. It’s the perfect mixture of old and new and committed to being the ‘greenest’ neighborhood in Chicago. It’s a terrific place to raise a family with beautiful parks, as well as plenty of hip stores and great restaurants.

8.    What are the hottest trends for kids clothes right now?
Cute with a twist: I think people are tired of ‘sophisticated.’ It seems people want kids to look like kids…just the modern version.

9.    Where are the best/essential family hangouts and places to go around your store location?
Jury’s (Best Burger), Julius Meinl (Best Coffeehouse), Wells Park (Sports, Concerts…), The Old Town School of Folk Music, Lincoln Square (Gift Stores, Book Stores, Restaurants…)

10.   What Le Top or Rabbitmoon Spring 2012 collection is your store’s favorite and why?
We LOVE the Rabbitmoon “Summer” sunlit yellow collection!!! The colors are so fresh and who knew yellow could look so good?! The “Pieced Top With Tie Shoulder is ridiculously cute with the matching hat. OMG!

Rabbitmoon "Summer" Collection A-Line Dress



Bellybum Boutique

4347 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60618
773.868.0944

www.bellybumboutique.com

 CHECK-IN and JOIN
Bellybum Boutique
Facebook page and click HERE

 

 

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We wanted to “loop” you into our favorite boutique in Lodi, California this week – Zoop a Loop! Not only is it the cutest for its fabulous fashion finds, cute jeggings, upscale Melissa & Doug toys and the best baby shower gifts in town…it is the “go-to” children’s boutique for many local Californians in the Lodi area! We interviewed boutique owner Tricia Monahan on the history of her store, the hottest toddler trends, what she swore she would never do as a parent, and her favorite Le Top spring collection! 

Zoop a Loop

Children’s Boutique & Party Place
21 Downtown Mall
Lodi, CA 95240
209.367.1444

 www.zoopaloop.com

 CHECK-IN and JOIN Zoop a Loop Facebook page and click HERE


1.    Tell us the inspiration behind the name Zoop a Loop? How long has your store been around?
We’ve been a children’s store in Lodi, California for 20 years now. Unfortunately, I don’t know the story behind Zoop a Loop because it was founded many owners ago, but I absolutely love the name. It evokes animals, fun, a little craziness and whimsy and is the perfect name for a children’s boutique!

2.    Spring 2012 styles are coming into stores and brightening up any family’s winter wardrobe. What are your top 3 items (clothes, toys, giftables, etc.) for any parent shopping for warm weather items for a nice holiday vacation this winter?
Melissa & Doug have the most fabulous outdoor toys…butterfly nets, bug catchers, indoor/outdoor hopscotch games, and now they’ve added some great pool toys. Roxy and Quiksilver have the best hats every spring for boys and girls, and we love Le Top…the outfits are so fun, colorful and whimsical-perfect for spring!

3.    Any special events that you have planned at your store for spring? Tell us the inside scoop about any special events and especially the fun deals we can expect!
We often partner with nearby merchants for “tent sales” in the alley, we’ll have the Easter Bunny next month for several visits, and we always have great deals for the annual Lodi Street Faire in May!

4.    What is your “go-to” baby shower gift in your store for boys and girls?
My favorites are the handmade “Memory Books” that document all the milestones in the first five years. These beautiful albums are handmade by a local woman and the most unique that I have come across.

5.    What are your top 3 favorite baby or children books and why?
The very Hungry Caterpillar for the beautiful, colorful illustrations, Good Night Moon, because it was one of my daughter’s favorites and The Little House on the Prairie series because my mother read them to me as a child, and then I read them to my daughter…such good memories!

6.    Tell us…before you “had kids or grandkids, what is one thing you swore you’d never…?”  Say?  “Because I said so”!
I thought it would be so much better to just explain things to my daughter, but I quickly found out you can’t reason with a toddler and they can outlast you!

7.    Describe the neighborhood of your store location in Lodi, California? Did you grow up in the local area?
The store is located in the Historic Downtown area of Lodi, with several blocks of boutiques, restaurants and antique shops. It’s a great place to stroll in the afternoon. I didn’t grow up here, but my sister moved here 20 years ago, and I followed her 7 years ago. I love the small town feel, and it really does fell like everyone knows everyone else.

8.    What are the hottest trends for kid’s clothes right now?
Skinny jeans and jeggings, but I am seeing a big turn back to skirts with leggings, especially for the older girls. Bright, fun colors and patterns with and anything with embellishments-lace, glitter, jewels, etc.

9.    Where are the best/essential family hangouts and places to go around your store location?
We have a movie theater down the street in one direction, a pottery arts painting place on the other side, and a Children’s Science Museum 2 blocks away, so families can spend a whole day downtown!

10.   What Le Top or Rabbitmoon Spring 2012 collection is your store’s favorite and why?
We love the Sun & Sea Collection with the bright colors, fish cut-out on the the back of the Capri set and tulle embellishments on the dress and bikini…so cute!



Zoop a Loop

Children’s Boutique & Party Place
21 Downtown Mall
Lodi, CA 95240
209.367.1444

 www.zoopaloop.com

CHECK-IN and JOIN
Zoop a Loop
Facebook page and click HERE

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Notice all the toys strewn about? Paulo would rather play with a box instead of his toys (in le•top's 2010 Gone Fishin').

Every room in my house seems to be cluttered with cars, balls, musical instruments, magnetic letters, plastic food, dolls, action figures, and even this enormous Tonka trunk! But it all comes down to this: He is going to have more fun playing with the box it came in. I should just stop buying toys. For his next birthday, I think I shall wrap a box… an empty box… because, really, that’s what he’s going to play with for hours!

Other things my son likes to play with are:

  • the remote control
  • my iPhone
  • shoes (the dirtier, the better!)
  • the door stopper
  • newspapers (loves to shred them to pieces)
  • house plants, especially the soil
  • the curtains

What’s your child’s favorite “non-toy”?

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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?
Adele:

  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?
Adele:

  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?
Adele:
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
212.496.1222
www.grannymade.com

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Yes, it’s THAT time of year again…time to clean out the accumulated ‘junk’ that has made its way into our life during the winter and have a fresh start for spring.  It can be a daunting task as you survey closets, garages, and storage spaces that cry out to be purged and deep cleaned – especially when all you want to do is play with your kids!  Why not include them in this spring rite?  Make them part of the process – spend some quality time, AND get things accomplished!  No, they can’t do everything – but you can put together a simple list for them to undertake while the adults deal with the big stuff – you can get through the necessary chores a little quicker and even make it fun.  For families with more than one child it can become a spirited competition to see who finishes the fastest or gives away the most. In my household it always seems that when the whole family helps clean, the house stays sparkling longer and there is a tendency to know where things are instead of mom having to ‘find’ everything. Here are some ideas for little one to tackle.

Kids to Do List:

Go through toys and books, separating what is no longer used to give to charity.

Strip or make the beds.

Clean the sink (I remember being assigned this task by my grandmother when I was a child) – there is satisfaction when the fixtures shine.

Dump the small trash cans (or at least place them near the larger one.)

Go through the house and find anything that belongs to you and return it in your room.

Dust the floor/furniture/window sills.

Play some fun music and the time will fly. Praise children for doing a great job and stress how helpful they are (even if they can’t do it as well as you.)  At the end of the project reward yourselves with a fun experience – a movie night with popcorn and ice cream or some time at a park. Happy clean-up!

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Everything a Kid could Want!

Giggles for Kids in Portage, Wisconsin

Joan Indermark had always dreamed of owning a children’s bookstore.  During a trip she visited a unique store in New Hampshire that was exceptional – it seemed to have everything a child could dream of owning – books, toys and whimsical fun clothing.  Wow, what a great idea!  Children’s books and clothing – what was the clothing she saw in that store that inspired her?  le•top!  Now Joan’s store Giggles for Kids showcases wonderful clothing, toys and books that elicit whole-hearted giggles from happy children!

Three years ago Joan’s little dream store opened – located in a unique commercial venue that showcases business ventures and imagination.  The Portage Main Street Mercantile Co-op was created in the historic downtown area of Portage Wisconsin as an incubator for small businesses.  The ultimate goal is to restore this notable area to its historic roots as a center for trade.

The historical distinction of Portage lies in its unique geographical location between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers.  Here the two rivers, one flowing north to the St. Lawrence, the other south to the Mississippi, are separated by a narrow neck of land over which, for two centuries, Indians, missionaries, trappers, traders, adventurers and settlers traveling the waterway had to portage their canoes and heavy packs from one stream to another. As a trade center for central Wisconsin, the downtown retail district was a beehive of activity as early as the 1860’s.  Many of the buildings have been preserved in their original Victorian architecture, providing a colorful background for the busy retail area of today.

Joan appreciates interacting with her community, especially the other merchants that are located within the historic building.  She loves the fact that her customers can find unique and special children’s clothing, toys and books without making the 40 mile drive to a bigger city.  Her biggest fans are customers who love the originality and quality of the merchandise in her warm and inviting store.  Joan’s reward?  The giggles of happy children!

giggles for kids 3

If you are fortunate enough to visit this unique community, rich in history, stop by Joan’s special boutique:

Giggles for Kids
The Mercantile Co-op
Portage, Wisconsin
608.745.5768

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