If stores could send out birth announcements, this one would read, “It’s with great pleasure that we welcome the newest addition to the Chou Chou family: Petite Chou Chou!”
Kathy Sanford, has owned the women’s fashion retail spot in Wilton for 13 years. She—along with her daughter and business partner Katie—is definitely excited that their new children’s shoe venture opens officially on Saturday, and that it’s across the street from the original.
“We’ve been here a long time. I love Wilton. I’ve seen people whose kids were little and now those children are coming in with their children!” Kathy said.
The mother-daughter team has been thinking about this kind of store for at least the last year or two. But according to Kathy, it was in talking with their loyal customer base about the idea that convinced them to move forward.
“I started asking customers questions and I got the same answers from everyone—A) there’s nothing like it around; B) whatever is around they don’t want to go to and there’s no selection; and C) by default they’re going online which they don’t really want to do. I asked them , ‘If I had something across the street for kids, would you go?’ And they all said, ‘Yeah!’”
Every concept for the store has been designed with their target customer—moms—in mind.
“Very few people usually have the luxury of shopping with just one child. With two, three, sometimes four in tow—you don’t want to have to go all the way to the mall—it’s not a fun experience,” said Katie, adding, “If you think about it, there aren’t really any other independent children’s shoe stores nearby. We’re hoping we’ll draw [shoppers] from New Canaan, from Westport, Ridgefield, Redding. It’ll help the town in that way too.”
It’s definitely busy moms they have in mind first and foremost. “We’ve got the stock room set up by size because that makes it easier to give the customer exactly all the right options quickly. We can make your 15 minutes really powerful, because we’re aware more than anything that time is fleeting and minimal.” Laughing, Kathy adds that they now know the bus schedules for all the Wilton schools by heart.
The colorful, contemporary store design was something the mother-daughter duo paid close attention to, and involved them working with Wilton resident, Jane Shapiro, to design the space. “It’s colorful, but not juvenile. Like the Jonathan Adler wallpaper—that’s something the moms can relate to and it’s a nice place to be for the kids too,” Kathy explained.
She made sure the store had a certain sophisticated feel. “I didn’t want it to be so juvenile. We wanted to have a place where children felt loved and special, and the mothers would feel confident that we would take care of their children.”
As for product, Kathy explained that the store hopes to appeal to shoppers with children from infant to tween. “The 11 and 12 year old girls, they want to be wearing something like their big sister has, and their foot size is 6 or 7, an adult shoe, but mom doesn’t want her in an adult shoe—it’s too expensive and not appropriate. With [brands like] Steve Madden, Michael Kors and, Sam Edelman it’s going to be great. Right off the top, it fills a niche.”
Other brands Petite Chou Chou will carry include Hunter Boots, Jack Rogers, Naturino, Primigi and Cole Hahn, among others.
The store will also offer communion shoes as well as styles appropriate for private and parochial school uniforms. There will also be some styles for older boys, including dress shoes, Sperry and Merells, up to size 9 or 10.
Petite Chou Chou is located in the Stop and Shop plaza, at 5 River Road, directly across from Starbucks.