RED HOOK, N.Y. -- To understand Little Pickles, the children's general store in Red Hook, you first have to understand the background -- and passion -- of Rebecca Rothstein, the founder and principal owner.
Rebecca, who runs the story with her husband, Craig, has a Master’s in Early Childhood Education and used to teach pre-K on Roosevelt Island in New York City.
Even back then, said Craig, she had an idea for a children’s shop that would address the importance of play. It’s play, she would tell Craig while they were dating, that's so critical to the way children process and understand the world around them.
One night in their apartment in Long Island City, with a view of Manhattan and the United Nations where the parents of many of her students worked, she wrote her mission statement. And they filed it under Wishful Thinking.
A few years later, married and living in Red Hook with two kids one dog, and three cats, the opportunity to make good on the dream arose. Rebecca took on a partner; Craig left his job in the City to look after their kids, and the dream became a reality.
That was in 2014. Now customers to Little PIckles will find a store designed like the inside of a carnival.
At least in one part. The toy and candy side of the shop are painted in stripes of purple and gold, with handmade moldings cut to look like the flaps of a tent. Here folks will find a room brimming with candy of all colors, shapes, and flavors.
Behind the candy room is the toy space with items from companies that uphold a certain standard of ethics.
According to Rebecca, Little Pickles is proud to carry felted wool ornaments from dZi, a Nepalese fair trade, eco-conscious company that supports Nepalese women.
"We also try to offer local and American made where possible," she said
"And we stock a wide variety of toys in terms of the types of play children can engage in."
Then there's the shoe shop and boutique with products from Stride Right, Plae, Pediped, Tsukihoshi, Livie & Luca, Camper, Merrell, Sperry, and more. Craig says the two are downright old-fashioned when it comes to helping kids try on their footwear.
"We both remember being small and being measured at the shoe shop in our hometowns, she in Devon, England, me in Woodmere, New York," said Craig. "We wanted to replicate that here, so when a little one comes in, they experience the royal treatment.
"We measure feet and consult with moms and dads while little ones play in the treehouse, with the dollhouse, or pretend cook in our little play area," added Rebecca. "And we don’t push sales; if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t buy it."
Even the name of the store takes pride in the delight of what being young means. According to Craig, Little Pickles refers to a cute English term for naughty children. Rebecca used to run a daycare out of their home when they first moved to Red Hook and called it -- you guessed it -- Little Pickles.
"We kept the name because it’s so evocative of how children can be so naughty and delightfully adorable at the same time," she explained.
As for their key to success, the two say its all about following their instincts and staying true to their vision, while also continuing to listen to the community.
Said Rebecca: "We know that our local customers are the reason we’ve come this far. If we keep putting their needs and wants first, we think we’ll do just fine."
Little PIckles is at 7505 N Broadway, 845-835-8086, www.ourlittlepickles.com/.
Recently unveiled: www.littlepickles.shop so you can shop online as well.
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