It was a momentous day for the Kopp family when they officially opened their doors to the cutest, and tiniest, little boutique and consignment shop ever! With only 300 square feet of retail space nestled inside the interior corner of Sherman Commons, it was wonderful to see how so many customers and well-wishers could fit inside Carousel Kidsignment Boutique at one time. There was plenty of room, too, for a children’s t-shirt decorating station and a cake cutting ceremony, and smiles were in abundance.
Equally as memorable was to see firsthand how husband and wife co-owners, Chris and Abbie Kopp, maximize the use of space. They carry a wide selection of brand-new and like-new products for babies, young children, and new moms.
Inside the store are two main shopping areas. When customers enter through the glass door and step inside, they walk straight into the whimsical boutique shop section that only carries new merchandise. Prominently displayed is Abbie’s own line of high-quality cotton t-shirts, dresses, and onesies embellished with adorable appliques that she hand-draws, cuts, and sews herself. “Anything can be personalized and we have an in-house embroidery machine,” she said.
Carousel Kidsignment Boutique carries popular product lines as well, like the one-size pocket cloth diapers and wide assortment of colorful cloth diaper covers. There’s something for moms, too, like the Rodan & Fields anti-aging skincare line and an inventive cellphone carry-ring gadget.
The owners are also big on supporting artisans. “We have handmade, hooded bath towels by an Army wife that fits newborns up to age seven. Another woman makes jingle cubes, birth cloths, teethers, and bibs. And another woman makes silicone teething jewelry,” said Abbie.
The second half of the store, and the larger of the two spaces, is the consignment shop area, and Chris and Abbie take pride in the quality of their merchandise.
“We’re very selective about the items we bring in. This is not a thrift store. The prices are usually 40% to 60% off retail depending on the item, the condition, and the brand. What we carry is in like-new condition, and oftentimes, items are new with the tags still on them. We carry the higher end brands like Naartjie, Hanna Andersson, Lands End, Ralph Lauren, Gymboree, DKNY, LL Bean, Gap, Justice, Calvin Klein, and Janie and Jack. We also specialize in carrying gently used gear that are top-sellers such as highchairs, strollers, carriers, and swings. Toys and puzzles are available as well, and we have maternity clothing, too.” stated Abbie.
What the Kopps’ also take pride in is providing that extra small town touch. Chris, who manages the store day-to-day and is the entrepreneur, said, “what I enjoy the most is when someone who hasn’t been in the store before asks me for advice. We are parents of three young boys ourselves, and we know what the real life needs are. I am able to share with them my parenting advice and personal experience with the products, like what works and what doesn’t work, what’s age appropriate or not, and what you should buy new or are better off buying secondhand.” Chris likes to take packages out to customers’ cars as well.
What many residents may not realize is that the owners are really celebrating a grand-reopening. Last year, they opened a large storefront on Route 7 in New Milford. They soon realized it was a “waste of space” and that 1,800 square feet was unnecessary.
“We found that most people were seeing pictures of available items that we shared over the internet or on Facebook and they were purchasing them over the phone, so the need for such a big space was not necessary. We also wanted to concentrate on the higher-end brands. In order to provide the boutique feel, we thought we needed to scale down. The square footage here is 300 and it allows us to have a space for boutique gifts and a space for consignment,” shared Abbie.
As soon as the lease was up at the New Milford location last month, the owners worked in overdrive to get the new Sherman store up and running quickly. Chris is especially excited. “I now have a very short commute that’s minutes from our house in Sherman,” he said.
What’s also interesting about their business is that Carousel Kidsignment Boutique has a loyal following and they don’t mind traveling 25+ miles to shop. Abbie elaborated, “our customers are looking to save money, make money off their items, or are environmentally conscious and believe there’s a second life to items. We are really like a destination for children’s consigned products. People have a real passion for consignment once they get into it. We have people that come from Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, and Brookfield. Some customers come from places farther out like Torrington, Dover, Pawling, and Patterson just to visit our store. We get the word out through social media and word of mouth.” Abbie is a marketing and sales professional who works behind the scenes doing social media marketing for the new business.
The couple shared how the store concept all began when they were living in Virginia. “When our oldest son was in preschool four years ago, Chris and I spearheaded a team of parents and began doing bi-annual, seasonal consignment sales to raise money for his school. The first fundraiser was super successful and it’s the largest one they had in their 22 years of being in business. Then, the second year we did it, the school ended up doubling its profit. Today, the fundraiser we started still happens twice a year even though we don’t live there anymore,” said Abbie.
Then, when the couple moved to Sherman a few years ago to be closer to Abbie’s family, they decided to try to make a family business out of what was important to them and what they had fun doing in Virginia, where Chris is from. “We love the whole family aspect and how we’re in control of our own destiny. Giving second life to items and providing a valuable resource to clients is what we’re all about,” stated Abbie. “Our boys are here at the store often and we understand. Bring in your own kids and it’s okay for them to play with the toys at the store. We get it,” added Chris.
When asked about how they came up with the store name, Carousel Kidsignment Boutique, Abbie shared, “we wanted a cute, colorful name with good branding. Plus, a carousel represents the lifecycle of clothing, round-and-round, and re-used.”
Whenever you’re in town, stop in and say “hi.” Perhaps you’ll find a great bargain or want to find out how to become a consignor. “Keep the carousel going. Support other mothers and shop Kidsignment,” is Abbie’s motto.
Carousel Kidsignment Boutique is located at 1 Route 37 East, directly across from the Sherman School. Store hours are Wednesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The store is open one Sunday a month from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit carouselkidsignment.com and follow them on Facebook.
Article and photos by Alicia Sakal. Originally written for Town Tribune, July 7, 2016 Edition.