I love the kids’ business. Not only can it be imaginative and colourful but it is such a positive and cheery aspect of any retail category, but especially apparel. As a parent, I know I enjoy dressing the kids up (while we still can) to make them look handsome or pretty or cute or wholesome or whatever. The price tags don’t necessarily matter until they are old enough to want things for themselves. Then, mysteriously, all of a sudden a light switch goes on and price and usage become the be all and end all. This takes us into the “tween” and “teen” phenomena, which are less than thrilling from my perspective.
But mostly, a kids-only apparel store is a happy place to shop, work and create. Take, for example, the ultimate kids emporium babyGap and to a certain extent Gapkids. BabyGap especially has stayed true to its brand by designing and merchandising unique, cute, wearable, slightly higher end baby clothes. They are by no means the most expensive but one could argue it is the most premium of any of Gap Inc.’s brands. Gapkids has come upon some major competition in recent years and has had ups and downs but is still a fun place to shop. Gymboree, Children’s Place, babystyle, Jacadi, abercrombie, Crewcuts by J. Crew, AE77 (American Eagle) and every other national retailer also loves the kids business. H & M and even Zara have launched kids businesses as well.
I have to say I am partial to higher end kids retail as well those that target the 0-8 year old. During this time, price seems to be no object (especially with all the grandparents out there) and usually, the child has yet to really have a say in how they look (or at least can be easily persuaded one way or another!)
I recently came across a neat little shop called “Peek…aren’t you curious”. They have barely 5 stores in California and Arizona and have a distinct point of view – let’s call it “high end beach”. But what is distinctive about it is the fact that the national brands that are represented are fairly obscure, and pretty expensive. But the stuff is outrageously cute merchandised in a very friendly, open environment.
What caught my eye are their walls. They are adorned with the cutest quotations regarding children, and their personalities. My favourite poem of all time “When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking” by Connie Back (it will make your eyes well up every time – I promise) was stenciled, in its entirety, on the wall along with other quotations from the likes of Emily Dickinson, Pablo Picasso and A.A. Milne. I asked about the poem and the manager produced a photocopy of all the quotations for me to take home. Nice touch.
If you believe that the kids are our future, then wouldn’t it also portend that kids retailing also has a robust future?