When designing Great Beginnings an open, airy feeling when customers walk in the store was highly desired, and they have succeeded at that. With 22-foot ceilings, the store features neat, open room settings arranged by flood restoration Brisbane manufacturer, with 120 crib vignettes and 50 teen vignettes on the floor.
Cribs range from $200 to $1,800, and include manufacturers like Ragazzi, Pali, Munire and Natart. The teen section includes offerings from Ragazzi, Bolton, Dutailier, Oak Designs and many more. Plus a clearance center allows good deals to be found.
Around the perimeter, different sections feature apparel, feeding and safety, toys and developmental products, gear, artwork and child-size furniture, making the store easy to travel.
The apparel area includes brands such as Kushies and kissy kissy, and the buying is done by a former Nordstrom clothing buyer. General Manager Brian Green said the department focuses on boutique brands with more of a European flavor and quality fabrics.
Great Beginnings works with several local artists who have painted murals throughout the store in exchange for referrals to customers — a win-win situation for artist, owner and customer. The latest mural, which towers over the stroller section, features a Victorian park setting and adds mood to the store’s tall walls.
The stroller and carseat area is manned by one part-time and four full-time employees who are dedicated to that section — something that becomes important when you have 220 strollers on display. “We show models in every color,” Green said. “If you show it, you sell it.”
The gear section has been a success for Great Beginnings, which has both installed carseats and conducted carseat checks for the past 10 years. The store is very involved in the community, and Holy Cross hospital has an office in the back of the store where Lamaze classes and babysitter certification classes are held.
Also in the back of the store: the Bored Husbands’ Lounge, which features leather sofas, a copper ceiling reminiscent of old-time bars, and CNN on the television. Great Beginnings has paid attention to details; no expense has been spared on the women’s restroom, which features Italian tile, granite countertops, toddler-sized toilets and a nursing lounge with leather chairs. The store also employs a full-time housekeeper to keep the place looking good.
Like most independent specialty operators, Great Beginnings is all about customer service, but at Great Beginnings, hand-held service is the name of the game. The store offers personal shopping on Wednesday and Thursday nights, where customers can set up appointments to walk through the store with Green or another manager to pick products for registries. Appointments are booked up six weeks in advance.
He provides the customers with his own suggestion list of must-have products in each category, and explains his choices. For items like strollers, he talks to the customers about their lifestyle and needs and then helps them make their choice. The whole process takes about an hour and a half, depending on the customer, and Green said it helps tremendously with inventory, return rates and damage rates.
For customers who want to keep the gender of their baby a surprise, Great Beginnings offers an innovative program where the parents pick the merchandise for both sexes, and then the store finds out from the doctor what the sex of the baby is and orders the appropriate pieces, so they’re ready to be delivered after the baby arrives.