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Mainstrasse Shop Creates New Focus on Babies, Parties

Sandi Stonebraker has operated her small, children-oriented shop on Sixth Street in Mainstrasse Village for sixteen years and while the focus will remain on the youngest of customers (or, more specifically, their moms), "Stoney" is making some strategic changes.

"There are a lot of babies being born and I just need to tap into that market," Stonebraker said.

Most recently, the shop featured themes of princesses and fairies but now Stonebraker will offer more items for boys and babies, products that are not available at big box stores. She's also slightly altered the name to Stoney's Gifts & Toys Shoppe. "I'm really able to get cutting edge new products you don't find in big box stores."

"Too many kids open things and throw them away or the batteries run down," Stonebraker said. "A lot of what I have is interactive."

That has been her goal all along -- to engage children with toys and games that stimulate creativity and imagination. "Kids need to learn the difference between quality wood products and something thrown together and made in China," she said. 

That lesson can start at a very early age. Stoney did a slight reorganization of her store's layout and filled her center room with new baby products such as Toe Blooms (flowers that strap to babies' feet), lavender-filled animals that can be warmed in the microwave before leading a baby to sleep, and cheerful swaddling products. She has also added more items for boys. Whereas previously, Stoney was "All Things Princess and Fairy", little boys will find more items to their liking, such as cowboy and pirate-themed gifts and costumes.

Little boys may also be more prone to have a party thrown in Stoney's garden. Little girls have had many princess parties in the attractive backyard of the shop where arts and crafts are done in a private getaway in the city, and now little boys can do the same.

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So can adults. Stoney, an artist herself, hosts grown-ups for Wine & Water Colors events. She is also hosting baby showers now, too. Her first was scheduled for a few hours in the early evening but the ladies were enjoying themselves so much in the quiet, peaceful garden that they lingered till midnight.

Stoney is also offering a baby registry for expecting mothers who can come in and pick out items and then send out cards.

The new strategy has already sent a steady stream of new business to the shop, where Stonebraker keeps a private residence above, a family-friendly sanctuary in the middle of Covington's primary entertainment district.

"I feel that I'm the nice, quiet, Granny-type place," she said. "A soft spot to fall."

Stoney's Gifts & Toys Shoppe, 323 West Sixth Street, Covington, Kentucky, 41011, www.stoneysgifts.com, 859.655.9571

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photos by RCN