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When Battery Park City resident Jackie Brookstein was displaced by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, she turned to her longtime friend and Tribeca neighbor Kim Carton for shelter. Not only did she get a roof over her head, but she also got a brand new job—co-founding chic boutique Valley.
"I've always worked in retail throughout undergrad and graduate school," Brookstein explained. "It just kind of took over." And mom-of-four Carton was tired of traveling all over the city for what they call "wearable fashion." She also gets to bring her dog, a 150-pound English Mastiff named Tiger, to the store every day—he's got a bed behind the register. "He doesn't like to move if he doesn't have to," Carton said.
Read on to find out how the five-month-old store decided to come to an area in desperate need of personalized fashion, who their store's previous tenant used to be, and how they've become Tribeca's newest shopping destination.
Why did you decide to open in Tribeca?
Kim: I think there was a major void here in Tribeca, where I've always lived. There was nothing around here, shopping-wise—you always had to walk over to SoHo. It was very hard to find a place that you could just you know you could go to and grab a t-shirt or a pair of jeans.
What kind of changes have you seen in the neighborhood overall in the past 5 years?
Jackie: There are a lot more restaurants coming in. And with retail itself, whether it's clothing or other things, they're opening up in the area, even all the way in Battery Park. And there's the new mall that's opening up next year.
Kim: I also feel like down here is the most desired real estate in all of Manhattan, besides probably the Upper East Side. There's so many women and families, and there are a lot of stroller moms, so there's definitely a need.
How did you scout out this location?
Kim: Jackie found the spot. It was an H&R Block.
Jackie: I was actually roaming the street looking for spots, and I happened to stumble into the shoe store next door and speak with one of the owners who was there that day, and she referred me to the landlord here because she believed that it was a pop up. Then we started aggressively calling the landlord—
Jackie: —for when the lease was ending, and letting him know that we were very interested in this spot. So we have the shoe store next to us, and the nail salon. We knew it was always the spot that we wanted.
And how did you want to design it?
Kim: We definitely wanted a place where people could sit down—especially men or children. Jackie found the lights online, and we had them custom-made in Brooklyn. That painting behind the register was made by a street artist in Soho that I found. We want it to be like a cozy, funky vibe.
Jackie: It feels like you're in someone's loft in Tribeca, but you're shopping.
Kim: People come and hang out and just sit—it sucks you in.
What's your inspiration for the merchandise you sell?
Jackie: When we first started looking, we were looking at what we like, because we are our core customer. She's a mommy, or that 30s through 40s age group. My ideal client would come in and not even try anything on, and just know it was going to work by looking at it. Now that we've been open for almost five months, we're seeing what's working and what's not working beyond our likes.
Kim: Also, our clientele is very mixed. We have the city people who are looking for things to wear to work, and they're maybe a little bit more conservative, or sophisticated, and then we have that funky Tracy Anderson girl, or people from SoulCycle or FlyWheel.
Everyone comes to this back corner, where we have activewear and loungewear. This is where they live. It's all like Monroe, Sundry, Lauren Moshi, Aviator Nation. Everybody just loves all of that yummy stuff.
Jackie: I think that it's easiest to go here and not try it on and just say, "I'll take this."
Do you have your merchandised organized by category?
Kim: We have sportswear back there. The other corner is resort right now, and then it's slowly transitioning in the front, where were have resort mixed in with our winter samples that we'll always have, like scarves and little fur accessories.
What are some of your favorite pieces you're carrying right now?
Jackie: I love this Iro navy leather jacket from pre-spring. It's just a different color—it's not that bright cobalt, or a really, really dark navy, so it kind of goes with everything. And we also have it in light pink.
Kim: I love this Iro [shirt]. It's easy, yummy, sexy—you can just see right through it.
Jackie: We also do really well with our skull scarves. It's something that a man or woman could wear. It's really soft, and big enough that you can travel with it on a plane—and it's like a blanket.
Kim: This has been popular with the men coming in with women, and they want to feel like they can buy something, too.
Would you ever carry products exclusively for men?
Kim: Jackie doesn't want to do men's.
Jackie: We try to keep a little bit of stuff for kids, too, but that's not our main focus.
Have you been surprised by any of the clientele you've attracted?
Kim: Yes—I've had so many women come in who go to Palm Beach or Boca Raton for the summer, and they were between 60 and 80, even.
Jackie: They were loving our pretty Calvin Rucker tops and our Dia leather-trim shirts—you would be shocked. And then we do a get a fair amount of younger girls in high school coming in with their moms, and they'll buy our t-shirts or coated leggings or the lower-priced leather jackets.
We've even had some girls from Connecticut, too—their moms discovered us and they bring their daughters in.
Kim: And people from Short Hills, too.
And over the holidays, we had about 50 men come in here shopping for their wives. They knew what they wanted—their wives had said, "I want this at Valley." So that made me really happy that people were saying that we were a destination. People now know there we're here and actually come to Greenwich Street to come to Valley.
What's the price point you aim for here? What do your customers want to pay?
Kim: Well, they want to pay nothing! [Laughs]
Jackie: Accessories and t-shirts start as low as $60, and our higher-priced coats and jackets will be up to $1,800.
What's your mid range? What are most people purchasing at?
Jackie: I think they'll come in and buy a pair of jeans and a t-shirt for $300, but most people spend $300 to $500.
What about expansion? Have you looked into e-commerce or other locations?
Jackie: We've talked about e-commerce, but we haven't even had our first summer season yet. We have to really analyze the business and see the right time, because you have to plan so far in advance for e-commerce with what you buy.
Kim: I'd like to expand, but I want to get through a year first.
So we'll check in with you guys next September! Do you have any store events going on?
Jackie: We're always trying to do more events with the community. We feel like we have a good event space, too. We're going to be having an event with a start-up business that's about supporting women entrepreneurs.
Kim: We've had parties for Citibank, and I'm going to be having a party with my kid's school and some moms. We'll be offering a discount.
Okay, time for the lightning round: 8am or 8pm?
Beer or wine?
Whiskey or tequila?
Beach or mountains?
Cats or dogs?
Kim: Have you seen my dog?
Favorite vacation destination?
Jackie: I haven't had one in a long time! My dream vacation would probably be somewhere in the South Pacific Islands, like Bali.
Favorite neighborhood lunchtime spot?
Favorite happy hour spot?
Kim: Greenwich Tavern.
Rap or country?
Scandal or Homeland?
Kim: I've never seen those.