September 28, 2022

Kiddytown, a decades-old children’s clothing store, is closing for good


When Shashini Jayaratne found out four years ago that she was pregnant with her first child, Kiddytown was the first store she browsed for baby items.

“Car seats, strollers, etc. It was the store, ”Jayaratne said.

“It’s a personal attachment, and I am very, very sad to hear that they are closing.”

Early next year, after more than 70 years in business, Ottawa’s longtime children’s clothing and furniture store will close its doors for good, in part due to challenges caused by the COVID pandemic. 19.

Returning customer Shashini Jayaratne was among those walking the aisles of the store on Friday. (Jean Delisle / Radio Canada)

Jayaratne said the store has been around since before he was born – and that’s an understatement.

Goldie Abramson and his brother Hy Hymes opened the original Kiddytown location in Ottawa on Rideau Street in 1945.

Over the next seven decades, Kiddytown peaked at six locations, according to its website. Today, its last location in east Ottawa is owned and operated by Hymes’ daughters, Rhea Hymes-Hochstadter and Barbara Levinson.

They announced last week that the store would close its doors for good in February 2022, when their lease expires.

Tears, hugs, shock

Customers are taking the news harshly, Hymes-Hochstadter said.

“Some people are crying, some people are calling, some people are hugging me, some people are shocked,” she said. “I have people who are on fourth generation dressings.”

Levinson said she grew up working at the company.

“Since I was eight,” she says. “Don’t report this to child labor!” “

Rhea Hymes-Hochstadter, the current Kiddytown co-owner and one of the two daughters of co-founder Hymes, keeps this photo of the original store on Rideau Street in her portfolio. (Guy Quenneville / CBC)

Levinson said his father told his daughters that if they wanted anything they should work for it.

“That’s what we did, whether it was answering the phone, taking money, marking things. So [closing is] sad, but I’m ready to retire. “

Rhea Hymes-Hochstadter, right, and her sister Barbara Levinson own and operate Kiddytown today. Here, the pose with a photo of them as children modeling the clothes in the store. (Guy Quenneville / CBC)

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a more difficult business environment, especially when it comes to staff retention, they said.

The sisters had previously closed their cramped downtown Bank Street location because it was difficult to distance itself socially and “there was no one downtown,” Levinson said.

Obtaining inventory has also been difficult, they said.

Hymes-Hochstadter, seen here in a family-kept newspaper clipping, taught them from an early age the value of earning a living, Hymes-Hochstadter said. (Jean Delisle / Radio-Canada)

But Levinson said now is the time to end this chapter in his family’s history.

“I feel like we have accomplished a lot,” she said. “It’s made for us and it’s good. Everything is fine.”