Thursday, November 13, 2008

Don't Judge a Book By It's Cover

"These Clothes Are Used?" "This is a resale store?" or "You're consignment?" and my personal favorite, "I've been driving by for months, thinking you were an expensive Children's Boutique..." are statements that I hear on a regular basis from our first-time customers. "The windows always look so nice, I thought the clothing would be expensive."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining! I'm very happy to hear from our customers that they are impressed by how our windows are displayed, and that they are pleasantly surprised to find out we are Resale. Someone once referred to us as a "second-hand boutique" and I have to admit I like the ring to that.

Frankly, it never occurred to me that dressing the windows the way that we do would make people think that we were not a resale store. My background is such that I have several (more than I care to admit) years experience in visual merchandising and design, and so presentation is very important to me. I grew up remodeling houses that my parents bought and sold (long before "flipping" became the thing to do), so interiors became significant to me at an early age. In addition, I worked at IKEA as an Interior Designer for 5+ years, and before that did the window displays for a now defunct clothing company in New York City.

In the midst of all that, I graduated from Parsons School of Design with a degree in Fashion Design. I thought at some point I would be the next Donna Karan or Badgley Mischka (well one of them, at least... did you see them on Ugly Betty last week? Fabulous designers, horrible actors...). I worked in the industry for a while, but it's not well suited to women who want families too. But I digress. The point is... with GROVE STREET kids, I was able to combine my interests and my experience. When GSK first opened, I thought it would be an avenue to create my own children's line... and though I haven't ruled it out, I find that that our customers prefer "recycled" clothing. It just makes good sense... for of the economy, for the environment, for the community.

At any rate, I wanted to make the store a pleasant place to shop for customers while still offering good value. I like themes. Maybe because they require organization. And they make a good presentation, of course. If you take a good look at the slideshow to the left, you can get a good idea of what our themes have been, and maybe why people feel as they do about our store. Currently, the theme in our windows is "Fall." Before that, it was "Halloween." Up next? Christmas, of course. I have a hard time putting together displays for one holiday before another has past though. So if you are looking for a lovely Christmas dress for your little one, don't let the windows dissuade you (again). We have plenty inside. And it doesn't cost anything to come in and take a look!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What's in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

True, but I just didn't think "Martin Luther King Jr. Way Kids" had the same ring to it.

I am often asked by my customers "Why is it (the store) called GROVE STREET kids?" The short answer is that the street our store is on, now Martin Luther King Jr. Way, used to be named "Grove Street." Some history:

"Just before his assassination, King had proposed an economic bill of rights for the disadvantaged. Then, as now, the country was engaged in an expensive foreign war, spending money that King felt should be spent on social programs.

During the 1980s, activists and community leaders were concerned whether the civil rights gains achieved two decades earlier would last. Renaming streets after King helped to honor his legacy.

Berkeley changed Grove Street to King in 1984, and Oakland followed suit months later. The street starts at Oakland's windswept waterfront and ends in a few up-scale shops in residential North Berkeley."

For me, the naming of our store was a little more personal but, as to not bore you with all the anecdotes of my childhood, I will just briefly tell you that as a kid in Berkeley, I have fond memories of walking down Rose Street after school to the corner market aptly named "Rose and Grove Market." It's still there, by the way, across the street from the bustling FAT APPLE's Restaurant. Down the street is The Grove Antiques and several other "Grove" Businesses still remain on the 6 mile long boulevard. Even the construction site where the new Trader Joe's is being built at MLK and University has "The Old Grove" written on their signage.

Certainly I mean no disrespect to the great man who was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But I am a nostalgic, romantic, sentimental sort of a girl, and it only seemed apropos to name the store after the street that I remembered from when I was a kid.