Opening a resale shop for kids' clothing might seem like a gamble in a city where dogs outnumber children (at least as of 2011). But since opening five weeks ago, Monkei Miles (1523 Irving St., between 16th & 17th Avenues) has attracted a growing number of bargain-seeking parents.
"Every day, I meet a new family who lives within blocks of here with a new baby, or a toddler with one more on the way," said owner Monica Urick. "There are lots of families in the neighborhood, so that's amazing."
Monkei Miles sells "gently used" children's apparel, a thread that connects to Urick's previous jobs at Chloe's Closet and The Gap. "Clothing is my thing, for sure," she said. "I carry everything from infant up to size 14, specializing in the sizes that are hard to find for older children."
Working with her husband Keith, Urick transformed the 900-square-foot space, whose previous tenant, an acupuncturist, had departed after 17 years.
"We gutted the entire thing—it had a drop ceiling, a skylight was covered up, and my husband rewired the top so we have new lighting," said Urick. The store's name is a portmanteau, combining her name, her husband's, and that of their son, Noel (middle name Miles).
To build her inventory, Urick said she went "essentially thrift-store crazy for about a month straight. Now, I buy outright."
Customers who bring in clothing can choose between a store credit worth 50 percent of an item's resale value, or a check for 35 percent. "Most families choose the credit," said Urick, who added that Monkei Miles doesn't take items on consignment.
Shoppers will find a wide variety of children's clothing from Zara, Gap and other major brands. "If it's heavily used, I'll still take it if it's really cute," said Urick. "But I'll mark it down a few dollars." Monkei Miles also carries rain and snow gear, expensive categories children outgrow quickly.
Customers can also browse through artwork that's for sale, and Urick is working with "a really great jeweler in the neighborhood who's been making things in children's sizes from sterling silver"—she's already sold out of them twice.
For the time being, Monkei Miles doesn't stock shoes or toys. "It gets very complicated because so many things get recalled, or we don't have all the pieces here in the store. I want to be careful with the things I take in," Urick explained.
There are a few commercial vacancies near her shop, and Urick encouraged others with aspirations to consider making Monkei Miles' stretch of Irving Street their base of operations.
"Do it! This stretch right here is uncharted territory," she said. "People have come in and told me that they considered this space for a bar, a man cave and an art gallery."
As merchants say, location is everything. "This is where we're raising our son," said Urick, "so this neighborhood is the place for our family to be."
Monkei Miles (1523 Irving St.) is open from 10-5pm, Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 5pm on Sunday, and is closed on Mondays.
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