WEST TOWN — A children’s consignment clothing store that opened this weekend in East Ukrainian Village is looking to provide more than just stylish clothes for young people.
Steph Marty and Lindsay Kookoothe opened the doors of the Velveteen Rabbit, 1919 W. Chicago Ave., Saturday. The two owners hope to promote principles of sustainable shopping and creating an inclusive community with the store.
Velveteen Rabbit is open by appointment weekdays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends, though people can also buy online.
Lindsay said the store grew out of their love of vintage items and consignment stores, where people give items to stores to sell and receive a part of the profit.
“As a retail space, we really identified two buckets that were important to us,” Marty said. “One was focused around sustainable shopping. Fashion and fast fashion is one of the key contributors to our environmental issues today. And then the second was being a place for inclusive community.”
The store is selling spring and summer clothing such as bathing suits, tennis shoes and sandals for children. Lindsay said they hope to turn over products later in the summer so they can provide fall-appropriate clothes like jeans, sweaters and jackets for back-to-school shopping.
The name Velveteen Rabbit originates from a children’s story about a little boy who forgets his toy, a stuffed rabbit, Marty wrote in an email. After the boy gets sick and turns to the rabbit for comfort, the rabbit becomes real.
“We loved the parallel to our shop … . Our clothes are gently used and, some could say, ‘forgotten’ by their current owners,” Marty wrote. “By reselling them, the clothes are loved once again in their new homes.”
The two hope the Velveteen Rabbit can also be a place where parents can meet each other. Marty said stores that offered services and classes to new mothers helped her overcome loneliness after her first daughter was born and her husband was away in the military.
“Something that really helped me were a couple of local places where I lived that had ‘mommy and me’ classes or just opportunities for moms to get out and come together,” Marty said. “And so, we, in addition to being a place for sustainable shopping, we also envision that the Velveteen Rabbit would be a place where moms could come together.”
Marty wrote in an email the store will host small group events limited to five people as social distancing requirements are in place.
And during the month of June, the Velveteen Rabbit will donate to charities supporting racial equality and underserved populations in Chicago, such as Campaign Zero, The Action PAC and My Block, My Hood, My City.
Marty and Kookoothe meant to open as a pop-up in March, but the coronavirus pandemic forced them to take their operations completely online for several months. Because of the pandemic, 30 percent of their customers are now from out of state, Marty said.
The opening delay pushed the end of duo’s lease to the end of the summer. They will evaluate then what they will do the shop.
The Velveteen Rabbit joins a growing community of vintage and second-hand stores on Chicago Avenue. Last year Lost Girls Vintage, a femme-focused shop with plus-size offerings, moved to 1947 W. Chicago Ave. Seek Vintage, 1433 W. Chicago Ave., has called the West Town strip home for years.
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