A high-end baby retailer has picked the West End for its first storefront and is picking up where an ice cream parlor left off.
1Z 2Z 3Z opened April 1 at 5720 Patterson Ave. The 1,000-square-foot shop is the former home of Boyer’s Ice Cream & Coffee.
Owner Lief Anne Stiles Catlett’s store sells apparel, accessories, toys, gifts and nursery decor for babies and toddlers up to 4 years old. She said the store carries hard-to-find, high-end brands like Rachel Riley, Baby CZ, Egg and Marie-Chantal.
“I’ve always wanted a space of my own to curate,” Catlett said. “My goal is to get the best designers and best quality for as low as I can price it.”
Catlett said she previously worked as a learning disabilities specialist in Manhattan and as an elementary school teacher. She lives in Richmond with her husband, Thomas Catlett, who works locally in finance and is a St. Christopher’s School alum.
Her path toward retail was born while shopping for baby clothes after the birth of her son.
“I had a booming business in New York as a reading disabilities specialist and decided to give (retail) a whirl,” she said. “I had definitely never run a shop before, but the idea of it was quite romantic. I like bringing people into my fantasy, so to speak.”
She began holding baby apparel sales at her home in October before signing a lease for the space on Patterson Avenue.
The storefront was left vacant last year when Boyer’s Ice Cream moved to a nearby space at 5808 Grove Ave. Catlett said she liked the large blank window on the shop’s storefront and thought neighboring businesses like Superstars Pizza, The Grill, Lulabelle’s Cafe and Pump Custom Fitness would complement her store.
“This area is very kid-friendly and mom- and grandma-friendly,” Catlett said. “It’s also between a lot of school drop-offs.”
Catlett would not say how much it cost to launch 1Z 2Z 3Z, but said she financed it herself. Renovations on the space cost about $4,000, Catlett said. If she takes up the option to renew her lease after the first year, Catlett plans to redo the shop’s ceilings and floors.
“I’m really hoping this will be a long-term affair,” she said.
The shop has a play area to keep children busy while parents browse 1Z 2Z 3Z’s whimsical American-made clocks and reversible booties hand-stitched in Paris. Evening classes and lectures on childcare and design will also be held in the shop. Free storytelling time is set to begin in May.
“We really want to be a resource for parents,” Catlett said.
1Z 2Z 3Z also has a small consignment section and carries guides for making tree houses authored by Catlett’s parents David and Jenie Stiles.
A grand opening event is planned for later this month, and Catlett plans to sell at events around town. She said less than two weeks since opening, she is hitting the daily sales figures she needs to become profitable within 12 months.
Catlett said she hopes the hard-to-find New York and European brands she carries will help set 1Z 2Z 3Z apart from the competition. Other area brands that sell baby clothes include Buttons & Bows in the West End and larger chains such Gymboree, which has locations in Henrico and at the Stony Point Fashion Park, and Crazy 8, with stores in Henrico and Midlothian.
Catlett may eventually like to open more stores of her own outside of Richmond.
“I think I would like to keep it in the South,” Catlett said. “Customers in Atlanta, from what I’ve been told, really spend. It’s more like New York.”