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A look at What’s Selling: Stoopher & Boots in New York, NY.
Stephanie Goldstein might not have kids of her own, but she’s very much a mother hen to the neighborhood kids who swarm into her New York boutique, Stoopher & Boots (the childhood nicknames for Stephanie and her sister Elizabeth). Over the past 10 years, kids have been wheeled into the Upper West Side boutique in strollers, later strolling alongside their moms and eventually popping in as tweens during lunch recess to hang out, browse and play with the store’s two King Charles Spaniels. It’s exactly how Goldstein envisioned things when she was a little girl dreaming of owning her own childrenswear boutique.
“My customers aren’t just customers, they’re my neighbors and friends,” Goldstein says. “I’ll grab coffee next to one of my teen customers at the local bodega and joke about how we remember her stopping by Stoopher back in her juice box days.”
Goldstein, who started out in her career advising Fortune 500 companies on growth strategies, has doubled the store’s size after taking over an adjacent storefront two years ago. The 1,300-square-foot space features a 75/25 percent mix of girls’ to boys’ clothing. The selection spans knick-knacks you can pick up for a dollar to coats and dresses north of $200. There’s even a designated “Dad Chair” for fathers to chill out while their kids browse. A highlight is Goldstein’s own line, Sparkle by Stoopher, which she also wholesales. It’s an outgrowth of the tie-dye T-shirts she made in middle school and serves as another creative outlet. “Stoopher is my baby and an extension of me,” Goldstein says. “It’s like I retired, and this is my passion that I finally get to live every single day.”
Stoopher & Boots’ proximity to several schools provides steady traffic as well as helps build community. Goldstein is a frequent contributor to school fundraisers and local events. “People come to Stoopher for our personalized service,” Goldstein says. “If it felt solely transactional, they’d just go online. Kids love to stop in, hang out or let us know how that dress worked out at the bat mitzvah they attended.” —Lauren Parker
How’s business? Good, luckily. Stoopher & Boots has a very loyal following both on the wholesale and retail front. Our primary customer base is locals—my neighbors—but it has grown to also include customers who may be driving over the bridge from New Jersey to pay us a visit.
What are your best-selling brands? In boys’, comfort is key, with Flow Society a year-round staple. Boys love the shorts’ bold prints and the sports gear. Vintage Havana is emerging as a go-to, especially the super-soft fleece. For girls 2 to 8, Sparkle by Stoopher, hands down, is our bestseller, and glitter and tulle sell across the board. For special occasion, we sell everything from classic to bandage dresses, and we love Un Deux Trois dresses for fit and style. We also do great with Stella McCartney, Zoë Ltd and Imoga. For the older girls, we sell tons of cropped, distressed, lightning bolts, stars and neon. Here, we can’t go wrong with Vintage Havana, T2Love and Aviator Nation. We’re also a big stop for baby gifts/layette, and Petit Bateau is a tried-and-true great buy.
What about beyond apparel? For toys, anything squishy! Fashion Angels, Iscream and Kids Made Modern never fail to disappoint. In accessories, you won’t see a child without Bari Lynn headband or clips, so we’re always well stocked. We sell a bit of beauty, like nail polish sets, but not a big commitment.
Anything notable added to the mix recently? We started carrying a lot more junior sizes last year. We found that middle school girls want to wear junior brands, even if that means sizing up. Oversized hoodies and sweatpants, cropped tees and loose leggings mean fashion flexibility. And, in addition to our Sparkle line, we are launching Tweenstyle by Stoopher, so we can continue to offer emerging trends to our aging customer base.
How do you drive traffic to your store? My relationships with customers is the most impactful way to drive traffic, but we also send curated suggestions via text to our growing customer base daily. We’ve recently brought on a digital and social media strategist. We’ve always relied heavily on Instagram to help build our customer base and call attention to new styles the second they come into the store.
Is there a specific season or occasion that spikes sales? In the summer, camp gear and camp care packages are big business, and the big word in camp is custom. We personalize everything, from shirts to skateboards, with packages tricked out with candy. Camp visiting day generates nearly the same buzz as the holidays do. But summer isn’t just about camp. The demand for summer gear keeps going after the kids arrive at camp.
How has your business changed over the past decade? The store has evolved alongside the growing relationships with our neighborhood clients. At first, I carried lots of handmade items—adults’ and children’s clothing, plus toys and accessories—because I thought they represented the greatest unmet need in the market. However, it didn’t take long to see that children’s clothing was the most popular category, and I decided to focus on it.
Where do you see Stoopher & Boots in five years? I see our journey as my customers’ journey, and I’m always thinking how to grow with them. Stoopher helped outfit their grade school graduation, and now it’s time to work with them on styles for prom. I feel like a mom to these kids, especially when they come in at lunchtime without their parents. It’s like I have hundreds of kids! •