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Sunnyside Business Owner Heartbroken, as Dream Turns into Nightmare

Photo: QueensPost

Feb. 20, 2013 By Bill Parry

Fashionable Baby and Kidz, a children’s clothing boutique at 45-20 47th St., is going out of business after being in operation for just nine months.

The owner blames her store’s poor location—just off Greenpoint Ave.– as well as the tough economy for her business failing.

“People are struggling in this section of town,” said Vesna, the owner who did not want to disclose her last name.

Vesna also cited the heavy costs of repairing the long-abandoned property as another factor in Fashionable Baby’s undoing. She described the property as a “moldy cave” when she first moved in.

Vesna said she invested her life savings in mold and asbestos removal, a new floor, plumbing, and electrical wiring to bring the store up to code. “My sister tried to stop me but I listened to my heart and not my head,” she said.

She said she was disappointed that the landlord did not help subsidize the costs.

She regrets not investing in a proper sign for Fashionable Baby. “I had no money left for a good sign so nobody knew I was even here,” Vesna said.

Vesna is still adding up her losses but she expects to lose about $100,000. “It was my dream to own my own business,” she said. “I had the best intentions, I wanted to give people jobs, maybe open another store – now I am financially ruined.”

Presently, she is holding a going-out-of business sale—selling clothes, furniture to even the clothing racks.

A native of Yugoslavia, Vesna moved to Sunnyside 23 years ago right before the Balkans collapsed into civil war. “I couldn’t go home, it was too dangerous,” she said, “So I saved my money to open a business.”

However, “what I did was open Pandora’s Box,” she said.

Vesna expects to be closed for good in March leaving Tiny You, located at 46-21 Skillman Ave., as the only children’s boutique in the neighborhood.

Jill Callan, the owner of Tiny You, knows Vesna and empathizes. “As a female entrepreneur this story breaks my heart.” However, “there’s a rule when it comes to financing a business like this: plan on a worst case scenario, and then double that.”

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37 Comments

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Lucky Lu

I am not surprised this business failed. I don’t think she did the market research she needed to do. Anyone can see that many, many people who live in Sunnyside and have kids do not appear to be high earners. And people who are high earners have few, if any, children. @Freaky, if you are referring to Takesushi on 42nd St., the newest sushi restaurant in Sunnyside, the owner is from Japan. Parrot is actually run by a Bulgarian family, but they sell products that appeal to Balkan/Medditerranean cultures.

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freaky

What about RED WINGS on 46th ST? The place was empty for quite awhile when it opened. I see people shopping and going in there now and they actually had a large ad campaign. Not sure, if it was paid by Red Wings corporate. Red Wings shoes were sold on J Crew a few years ago. I’m glad the owner at least tried. It’s easy to dismiss her endeavor but I wouldn’t of guessed the Japanese restaurant near 43rd ST would be able to compete against Arishoshi which is run by a real Japanese restauranteur. I wasn’t so sure Salt & Fat would of done as great as it has. Every night they’re pretty packed. I don’t want Sunnyside to be like Astoria where it’s so packed with foot traffic and black cabs. There’s a new Turkish food store – Parrot? and it seems to have some good foot traffic.

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Edgar

Dear owner of FBK-
I read the article about your store. I am sorry for your misfortune. You seem like a spirited individual, and will find another place to open the buisness you wished to present.
But, I think the writer of that article, had a truely heart felt wish that you succeed. It wasn’t about being heart broken. It’s sad when people give it there all, and time and circumstances conspire against them. It sounded to me, like he really wished you to prosper. I myself see buisnesses going down in this neighborhood all the time.
My son is grown up now, but if I had read that article when he was younger, I would have gone to your FBK, and bought clothes from you for him. It looks beautiful.
I wish you the best of luck.

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SunnysidePostHatesMe

HEy Rikki, Sunnyside isn’t a Party town , go somewhere else with your clubs and loud music that invites the stoners and drunkards. Deals was a store that the neighborhood NEEDED. You think because you see a few restaurants in sunnyside pushing 10 dollar lunches that every store has to push out something for people wanting to spend money?

everyone in 39th is grateful for Deals .

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rikki

This is correct the only times people would make a special trip to sunnyside was when the old Sidetracks and the place on 40th now called Bucharest was a dancing night club.

I really thought the pool hall on 39th after it closed would have become another dance music venue it sure was big enough and there was lots of free parking after 8pm(now 10pm) all the way to 34th st Under the 7 and the side roads 1 block to the subway….perfect location…but we get another 99 cent store $$$Deals…sad…

Sunnyside has never been a shopping destination for people who don’t reside in the district.

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Blisskrieg

Heartbroken wrote: “I do not see what the problem is – so what if her language is not so good?”

Just a thought but maybe communication skills are essential in conducting business, particularly when one deals with the general public.

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O'shea

@FBK owner.
Your letter is a demonstration of an underlying character defect. You are not a people person. You don’t even like kids !
As a business woman in sunnyside, you didn’t know how to kiss the very asses of your clients: kids.
Next time, be a landlady. That way you can be coarse and never lose your shirt.

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Em

How can you all assume that sunnyside post didn’t take what she said out of context? Especially considering the fact that the woman has an accent.

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Heartbroken

@Blisskrieg @Time’s Up

As someone who has been on the receiving end of the vitriol that this board can produce (see posts on Lou Rispoli’s murder) I can know how hurtful these off-the-cuff comments can be.

Curious, I read the owner’s response. I do not see what the problem is – so what if her language is not so good? So what if she refutes the piece? Bad grammar and disagreeing with The Sunnyside Post means she deserves to lose a business she cared about??

@Mom, it’s spelled riddance, not riddense.

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Blisskrieg

P.S. I should also add that all of our contracts, leases and other legal and business documents are in English, so before anyone goes calling me a racist, perhaps you might consider that an excellent grasp of English is a practical means of achieving commercial success in this country.

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Blisskrieg

Having read the owner’s response, I can see more clearly why she went bust.

No command of the English language; let’s face it, all our laws are written in English, it’s the international language of business etc. Also, paragraphs are your friend. Let them help you.

There’s a complete denial of her poor business decisions as well.

I’m with the Sunnyside Post on this.

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Time's Up

Hey, Owner of FBK: when I read this story, I immediately felt regret for not realizing your store existed. I have a baby girl and love to support local, small businesses. I actually wanted to run over to the store and at least buy some stuff before you close.

Then you go on a rant against the author for a report that was completely objective?

While Sunnyside Post can do a little better at policing its comment section, the site as a whole is excellent and represents actual journalism, as opposed to the clownish blogs like Gothamist and LICSpot. It strains reason that the author would set aside all journalistic integrity to fabricate non-sensational quotes.

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Original Sunnysider

1st of all. No one shops in Sunnyside like that. Sunnyside is good for eating and living. Everyone goes to the mall, steinway and the outlets. No one wants to buy expensive non name brand clothes for their kids. Most parents in the neighborhood are young and dress their kids in jordans, nike, polo, etc. Anyone who has lived in Sunnyside for over 20 years knows that most businesses that open up end up closing. I’ve have seen lots and lots of businesses close down. When I seen this store open I laughed. I knew it wasn’t gonna last. I feel sorry for the owner, but it was stupidity and the Owner learned a lesson. Its not the poor economy cause if it was people wouldn’t be walking around the neighborhood wearing Gucci, LV, and Louboutin. Plus if you have to put that much money into fixing the place up, you should not lease it. There’s tons of places to open up shop. You live and you learn.

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Roxy

Sunnyside has never been a shopping destination for people who don’t reside in the district. Specialty stores of any kind are doomed before they even open.

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Sunnyside Post

The Sunnyside Post stands behind this story and has elected not take it down.
However, out of fairness, the owner of FBK is entitled to present her version of events.

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CircleK

Retailers and restaurantuers who deal without a broker are more likely to fail. Always seek representation from experienced commercial brokers who know how to structure deals to protect the shopkeepr’s initial investment and tier rent to ensure a better chance of success. Fools to improve a landlord’s asset like that without conditions.

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OWNER OF FBK

What are untruthful and dishonest story written by Sunnyside Post.
The misrepresentation of the truth was added.
In order to make story more shocking and more interested to readers the story teller made up things to his liking and added unwanted attributes to the small truth.
I am the owner of Fashionable Baby&Kidz and I called Sunnyside Post to remove the story from the pages.
The story teller represented itself as honest and helpful as he gave impression that he will write only nice and helpful story. It is sad that the story teller made up many things and added many unwanted attributes to the story to his own liking.
1. I never told reporter that I am heart broken. That attribute were added to the story as mistruth to reporter liking. Reporter said himself that must be sad closing business and I only said that I tried to make it work.
2. I do not blame anything or anybody for falling of my business. I did not mention economy, that word he added.
3. “People are struggling in this section of town” I have never said so, it is made up by reporter and is untruth presentation.
4. I never mention as cost of construction work on location contributed to business failing. That is untruth made up by reporter to his liking.
5. I have never said that I invested my life savings in it (mold, construction, etc.) That is mistruth made up by reporter to make story more interesting. He ask me about how much did I invested and all I said “a lot”. He then said do I feel sorry for investing in renovation and I did answer that I got warning advice not to invest in renovation prior checking on business success.
I invested in construction because it was in really bad shape and it was not healthy to work there without repair. I did not specify particular amount spent for construction works neither it was the reason to close the business; instead I think it helped because nice presentation can only help and not hurt any business. I invested because I could.
I wanted to make something really very nice and all was really beautiful. I did say only that location were not good for I was hidden and it is truth that I could not afford bigger sign and to advertise because of its high cost and situation that business was in.
In response to comment about the neighborhood, you be surprised because many of neighbors did purchase many beautiful things and many liked to dress their kids in beautiful clothing. I liked people I worked with, I loved my customers. I meet many nice people. It is truth that I now recognize many neighborhood thieves and I sometimes like to have them on the eye.
When reporter said that it must be sad to leave. It is truth that is not happiness not to succeed. But I have tried as my best I could and I worked very, very hard. I took the chance and every business is gamble and nothing in life is guarantee. I knew that I was giving myself only chance that may fall or succeed. I like to try more then sit and doing nothing. If I succeeded, it would be very positive for neighborhood in many ways including jobs.
Reporter wanted to paint the story as from his perspective to attract readers. I strongly disagree with his writing mistruth.
Word blame is not in my vocabulary. I blame no one for FBK going out of business. That is today many businesses reality. I did all possible I could in good intention for me and for others. I don’t blame anyone or anything but if I must to blame someone, as reporter tried to say, I only can blame nothing else but myself only, if I must. Usually I don’t blame anyone; it is not in my vocabulary. I don’t even blame myself because I am not to blame for I had courage, hard work, positive thinking, attitude, and desire to help. All I did and try to make is to praise and it is positive. It is success for all I have already made. I don’t owe anything to anyone, no banks, and no loaners owe anything to landlord and I had good experience, I am person with positive views, businesswomen, and entrepreneur. I hope to will find greater things then it was.
Owner of FBK.
I

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SunnysidePostHatesMe

Again..know your neighborhood. All those poor latinos are not going to spend all that money on kids clothes. And all the yuppies do their kid shopping at the Gap kids or the childrens place which is in other neighborhoods.

Sunnyside doesn’t need shopping, it needs food spots and services like asian women doing foot massages or iphone buffers

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sm

The clothes were expensive, not everyday wear – with kids, I want something that I won’t get a heart attack from if I see a spaghetti stain on it! For those “special” occassions, I generally go to Tiny You (and even then, I don’t have enough $$ to regularly buy from them, so def not enough $$ for two stores).

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Mom

The clothes were ugly and very very expensive, plus the owner, would chase you around, be annoying, and fake. Very uncomfortable feeling. Not surprised the store is closing.

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86Mets

This is truly sad to hear about but you didn’t need a Harvard business degree to see from the start that this was going nowhere for reasons others pointed out.

Don’t invest your life savings in a business if you can’t do it properly. You have to be honest with yourself about your prospects. This place was totally hidden and even if you did find it, it looked very uninviting. A recipe for failure.

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stupid

stupid stupid stupid … she really should of asked the locals before opening this store in this neighborhood and this location …. stupid stupid stupid

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Cheer up

Yes, you should have listened to your sister. You had clues from the get go but your passion was greater than logic. However, life goes on, you will survive. Always look on the bright side.

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Get Help

If the repairs to the store to bring it up to code was not in your lease prior to you doing them them you could take that the cost out in free rent. In some states you could get double or triple your money back. Get some legal advice. There are plenty of free resources.

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Logical

No surprise, as many foretold here: http://sunnysidepost.com/2012/05/31/childrens-retail-store-opens-in-sunnyside/

Her financial situation is a shame and I wish her a speedy financial recovery. The reality of opening a business is that most fail, especially when key factors for success are overlooked (location, market demand, capital, more here: http://www.businessknowhow.com/startup/business-failure.htm) which seems to be an unfortunate trend in the neighborhood.

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Annie D

It does seem as if some pretty terrible business decisions were made here: the location, the decision to invest every penny before the business is proven to be at all profitable, the lack of signage (WTF?), and no online presence beyond a Facebook page. Niche stores like this are probably almost always doomed to fail unless they have a huge following or way more foot traffic than people get in Sunnyside (look at the April Glass store and others)

There has to be some more “news” out there in the neighborhood…

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Angelica

I think she contributed to her failure. I passed by there when it first opened up and saw a sign on the door, something to the effect of no strollers, no kids allowed touching the merchandise. It was kind of off-putting for someone like me to want to shop in a childrens clothing store where kids are a nuisance to the business.

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Moneyside

Why doesn’t this lady take any personal responsibility for the store failing?

Oh it’s not her fault, it’s the poor location & the poor economy. Yeah OK haha

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