(Photos by Devyn Barrie.)
Going into business is always a gamble, but Jhoanna and Nick Prinzo see a glimmer of promise with their venture – something not seen before in Stittsville.
Classy Kids opened at 1300 Stittsville Main Street (in the same plaza as Shoppers Drug Mart and Yogatown) in early June, catering to a niche market of formal wear for children. They sell dresses and suits for special occasions, fitting up to about the age of 16.
“We see potential,” said Jhoanna in an interview on Tuesday at the store. “I hope we did not make a mistake.”
As a growing community with a large young population, Jhoanna said they saw a market for parents looking to dress their children well for occasions such as weddings, birthdays, religious events, etcetera.
The only other place they know in the city that sells similar clothing is downtown and they said online shopping just doesn’t cut the mustard.
“Ordering online is basically a pain,” she said. “You have to wait (for shipping), you don’t know what you’re getting.”
This way, she said, they can serve people in their own community. Alterations are easier as well – and free.
This is their first business undertaking together. Nick previously owned a café but sold it in 2001 long before meeting Jhoanna. He also works as a private investigator and she as a nurse.
They may be best known for their home on Sunnyside Avenue, which each year during Christmas and Halloween is adorned with remarkably elaborate displays. “Our house has become like a tourist attraction,” Nick quipped.
They are not tailors – Nick even said he knows nothing about fashion – so why a clothing shop?
“This is a concept that Stittsville has never seen,” Nick said. “I said to my wife what do I know about gowns?
“(But) If you’re an entrepreneur, you learn.”
They stuck to kids’ outfitting because a broader inventory would open them up to challenging competition from big box stores.
Sales have been sluggish to start, mainly because the prime season is in May or April when wedding season begins (along with other celebration-type events.)
They are doing some advertising, including about 1,000 direct mail ads being sent to nearby houses. Posting on the Facebook group Stittsville Moms has also worked well.
Also, the location in the 1300 Stittsville Main Street plaza was chosen because of its adjacency to Kumon and Pottery Playhouse because they serve similar customers.
Next year, they hope to get a fall line of clothes in as well as offer prom clothes for high school students.
“Just check us out, come and visit,” Jhoanna said. “Everyone that has come in loved what we have.”