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Keeping An Eye On The Competition

One of the biggest challenges of owning a retail store is keeping your inventory unique. As a business grows and evolves, we have the ever-demanding task of bringing in new products, new lines, and coming up with fresh ideas.


In a small city, it might seem that in order to do this, you have to worry about your competition. But, as we have figured out, keeping an eye on your competition in a different way, is a way better approach.


Little Hoboken, Hoboken Clique, and Emme & Max are three children's stores in one square mile. Initially, one might think that we are competitors, in that some of our products overlap. But actually, behind the scenes, we are all actually working together to help keep each store unique, service our clients, and keep children's shopping options alive and plentiful in our city.


If you come into Little Hoboken for something we know one of the other stores carries, we'll let you know. In fact, we might even call over there for you to check before you have to walk over there. If you head into Hoboken Clique or Emme & Max, you'll see brands that are not sold in LH, because we've discussed and respect the exclusivity. Each of us opened our boutiques with a unique mission and sought out to fill a void in the Hoboken shopping scene. And so, we work really closely together to help each of us succeed in doing just that.


In the past few months, we've really gotten to know one another and each store's unique mission, so we figured it was time to bring the rest of the community in on our little secret- we are truly keeping an eye on the competition...in the best possible way!


 

LITTLE HOBOKEN

702 Clinton Street

Hoboken, NJ

Instagram: @littlehoboken



What is the overall concept of your store and what inspired you to create your unique space?


Little Hoboken is a store curated especially for moms. I carefully select items you can’t find anywhere else locally, that are unique and generally items no one has seen before -- and things you actually want. Let’s be honest, do any moms really want slime??

Our snark and humor is reflected all over the store in clever adult gifts, screen tees for kids, and our card selection. We wanted to be a place to get a gift for any occasion. Even the “I don’t know this kid, but he’s in my son’s class and I don’t want to spend a lot and I don’t want the gift to look crappy” gift! We made it a one stop shop with free gift wrapping, cards for all occasions, and even balloons.


In theory, our three stores would be considered local competitors, but we have decided to instead support and uplift one another. What is your favorite thing about our “community over competition” relationship?


I love that I can call or text Sarah or Rebecca while I have a customer to confirm that they have something there and send the customer that way and they do the same for me. I love that our customers and the community sees in that action that we want EVERYONE to do well and in some cases, we’ve introduced them to a new store they had never visited before. I, personally, shop in both stores, so I think actions speak louder than words the most in this “partnership”.


What would you say are your top three “signature” items that people come to your store for?


I’d say currently it’s our selection of Hoboken/NJ specific items for babies, kids, home, and adult which includes custom embroidered bibs, tees, onesies, and sweatshirts. Second, our newly launched category: big boy clothes! As the mom of a nearly 7 year old, there is NO where in town to get cool clothes for him and so many of our customers wanted it too, so, we went ahead and curated that for moms! Cassie and I work together on this to select items and brands that reflect our styles and how we like to dress our little men. And last, our book selection is curated with the ever-popular Indestructibles, local authors, social action topics, and silly topics sure to be a hit for all gifting needs!



 

HOBOKEN CLIQUE

1204 Washington Street

Hoboken, NJ

Instagram: @hobokenclique


What is the overall concept of your store and what inspired you to create your unique space?


Hoboken Clique was first founded and created by my best friend, Jamie, almost three years ago, so while I now run it on my own - I certainly cannot take complete credit! We both had daughters who were, at the time, around 10 years old, and we felt there was a lack of places to find gifts or clothes for those “tween” customers in Hoboken. And with people now staying in town as their children get older, that population of tweens is growing everyday! From there, we bought with our daughters in mind, the brands they and their friends loved - they were truly the inspiration.


In theory, our three stores would be considered local competitors, but we have decided to instead support and uplift one another. What is your favorite thing about our “community over competition” relationship?


I have loved how our relationships have only grown stronger over the years. While so many would think we are competing against each other, we truly are not. We are COMPLIMENTING each other. I know that I have a lot of sparkles and glitter, which may not be what everyone is looking for - so, I am thrilled to be able to say “I don’t have that, but I bet Emme & Max does” or “Little Hoboken will definitely have that” - and sending them in your direction. That helps everyone…not just us as businesses, but our community and the customer as well!


What would you say are your top three “signature” items that people come to your store for?


1. Unicorns

2. Unicorns

3. Unicorns (Editor's Note: Girl, we feel this SO hard!)

Just kidding - while obviously we do have a lot of unicorns and rainbows - Stoney Clover Lane is one of our biggest sellers because it appeals to adults as well. From there the tween clothes (Vintage Havana, DL1961, Roller Rabbit, etc…) and gifts (Iscream, Top Trenz, Stickerbeans, Little Miss Zoe) are what people come to us for. I love bringing in new brands and seeing the kids' reactions - or asking them what they wish I had and then finding it for them!



 

EMME & MAX

1214 Washington Street

Hoboken, NJ

Instagram: @emmeandmax_hoboken


What is the overall concept of your store and what inspired you to create your unique space?


Emme & Max is designed to be a one stop shop boutique for the under 5 crowd. Our goal is to take the guesswork out for you; offering everything from apparel, footwear, and accessories to mealtime and bath essentials to toys and gifts.


I was inspired by a decade-long career in women's fashion accessories, corporate pandemic burnout, and my experiences as a Hoboken mom. After seeing a few different stores come and go, I decided in early 2021 to dive in head first and open the kind of store I wanted to shop in. I started to work with vendors that either we or our friends had used and loved, and tried to limit the decision fatigue that often comes with shopping online or with other large retailers. It was about making sure we were offering our customers special, elevated products that they knew they could trust. Many of the brands we carry are also women-owned small businesses, which we love. So far the community support we've received has been amazing, and we're so grateful for all the wonderful feedback we get on what Hoboken loves and what the community wants to see next.

In theory, our three stores would be considered local competitors, but we have decided to instead support and uplift one another. What is your favorite thing about our “community over competition” relationship?


One of our favorite things about Hoboken is that it's like living in the world's biggest small town. Everyone has their favorite local spots and sometimes it feels like you can't walk a block without running into someone you know. We've been huge fans of Hoboken's small businesses for years, so it was important when opening Emme & Max to focus on what we could add to the community and let the already amazing businesses in town do what they're best at. Our daughter bought her very first toy with her own money at Hoboken Clique and all of our party balloons and great road trip toys have come from Little Hoboken. With such great memories and experiences, why would we want to compete?


We love nothing more than hearing a customer come in and say "Rebecca sent me here" or "Melissa called earlier and sent me over." And when we do the same, you can see the appreciation on their faces. Working together creates such an incredibly meaningful shopping environment and sense of community with our customers. Through this partnership, we've introduced Hoboken residents to new businesses, new products, and customers will come back time and time again because they know that if we don't have what they're looking for, they know we will point them in the right direction.


What would you say are your top three “signature” items that people come to your store for?


If you asked this over the summer, it would have to be Weefarers sunglasses without a moment's hesitation. It's been so much fun seeing tons of smiles under these adorable glasses around town. As we're heading into fall, it's been a toss up between See Kai Run's first walkers and special, yet casual apparel - Vignette makes beautiful (and comfortable) dresses for girls and Me & Henry does the best boys collared shirts. But I bet if you ask our daughter Emerson, she probably would say eatsleepdoodle placemats. They've gotten us through a lot more quiet dinners out than we should admit to!