By Danit Schusterman
Photos: Shalom Burkis
“I’ve always loved socks!” says Rochie Sufrin, owner of Little Toes, a boutique in Crown Heights selling children’s hair accessories, socks, tights, jewelry and other accessories as well as women’s and men’s socks.
“Twenty years ago, when my oldest sons were babies, I’d travel to Boro Park and Flatbush to buy them cute socks and clothing. When my daughter was born, I was on the search for adorable girls’ socks but there was nothing available in Crown Heights.”
With the support of her father R’ Berel Kahan who owns Kahan’s Superette on Kingston Avenue, Sufrin used a small space behind his store to open her first store, selling children’s socks.
In the beginning, it was a friend who opened a store who gave her the contacts of two vendors. Another vendor reached out to her after that, she says. “I’d go to the shows at the Javits Center and meet more and more vendors, as I grew more experienced,” Sufrin says.
As the demand grew, she moved across the street to a basement and then on to the top floor of her father’s store on Kingston Avenue. “I was so happy to be on the Avenue, but being on the second floor had its challenges. Customers with young children had no place to put their strollers. It got to a point where I would offer to watch their baby in the stroller downstairs while they shopped upstairs and left the merchandise they wanted at the register. We’d then switch places where I’d run back up and ring them up.”
Sufrin stayed in this location for around 10 years but realized she needed a proper store for her customers to be comfortable shopping. A small space on Kingston Avenue became available and she opened her store in its new location. It was very small but it had direct street access – and in the days before social media, this was the next best thing. Customers were so happy and although it was not a large space, it worked really well for a few years. Until one interesting evening.
“It was 11 PM one night and I was in my store,” says Rochie, “I looked outside and saw a friend, Chayale Eckhaus, walking her baby in the carriage. She saw me in the store and came in to say ‘hi,’ telling me that she had just returned from a trip and was completely jetlagged, hence the late-night walk. She looked around my store and asked if I was serious about getting a bigger place.”
“Yes, I am,” Sufrin answered.
The next thing she knew, Eckhaus’ husband called Rochie to offer her the current much larger space where they have been until today.
With no business background or experience, Sufrin had figured out much of the business end by herself. Her father was very helpful as well as a few other mentors. She says she is thankful to Rabbi Yehoshua Werde of the CHYE organization for guiding her and assisting her in all the business and marketing aspects of her store. With so many logistics going into a business, it is really important to have the right guidance, she says.
Sufrin is really excited to open her newly renovated two-floor store this Sunday, November 14. Using interior designers for both floors of the store, there is now a special area for mothers to leave their strollers while they shop. The space is more open and aesthetically pleasing, creating a really pleasant shopping experience.
“I get so excited when my customers come to the store. I love fashion so when a customer comes in, I like to offer them a personal shopping experience to help them find exactly what they’re looking for. Sometimes they will bring in the entire outfit so I can help them find all the right additions. From hair accessories to tights, Yarmulkahs and jewelry, it brings me so much joy to help my customers create the perfect end result. I love connecting with each one of them, and now that we are open again, I really look forward to seeing everyone. My products are handpicked by me and I am so happy to be able to provide Crown Heights with these gorgeous products,” Sufrin says.
“On Sunday when we open our doors at 11 am, we will be giving a special gift to the first 45 customers who come to the store and make a purchase. I really look forward to seeing everyone and to sharing our new and beautiful upgraded space!”
Little Toes is located at 421 Kingston Ave, between Empire Blvd and Montgomery street. They are open 11am-5pm on Sundays, 10am- 6pm Monday-Thursday and 10am- 1:30pm on Fridays.
421 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
Address: 421 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
11am-5pm on Sundays, 10am- 6pm Monday-Thursday and 10am- 1:30pm on Fridays
Phone: (718) 778-1917