MANHATTAN'S BIGGEST AND LONGEST-RUNNING
CHILDREN'S AND MATERNITY CONSIGNMENT STORE
"I'm so glad I found you!!" is the excited and grateful response of so many moms and dads as they enter the newly opened doors of Jane's Exchange, Manhattan's largest children's and maternity consignment store. Having lost their lease at their earlier location on Ave. A and 12th St. in the East Village, co-owners Gayle Raskin and Eva Dorsey seem as amazed as their customers that they have managed to find a new space in their beloved East Village. "The real estate market is prohibitive for the small business owner. We almost didn't make it." Raskin knocks on wood. "It took us 5 months to find an affordable space. If it weren't for our customers' encouragement and support, I don't know if we could have done it!"
The new location, at 191 East 3rd St. (between Avenues A and B), is their biggest store yet. "We need a lot of room because we take in a lot of great stuff." Dorsey adds, "Here, we have an office, storage space, and a whole room for maternity and nursing clothes. We're very excited about building up this part of our business. It is almost impossible to find affordable maternity and nursing clothes in Manhattan."
Parents aren't the only people happy about this re-opening. Children, many of whom have literally "grown up" in Jane's Exchange over the past 13 years, clamor through ITS doors to see the new space. A neighborhood boy, 11-year-old Mason List, has generously donated his Brio train set for the new children's play area, which also boasts a really cool wooden kitchen (made by a local East Villager) and a wooden beaded roller coaster for the littler ones.
Jane's Exchange is a true community store in every sense of the word. The store itself is a warehouse of community donated items and services. Twelve purple lounge chairs, a gift from the trendy Hotel Gansevoort, are dotted throughout the store for weary shoppers and nursing moms. A longtime consigner, mother and designer Randi Halpern, volunteered her services in designing the bright and colorful walls. Lisa Daniels, a Harlem based web designer and mother, is helping them set up a website for the store. Carrie Auerbach, customer and mother of two-year-old Dexter, has just volunteered her husband, electrician and carpenter, Anthony Armstrong to help with the finishing touches that will continue after the store opens.
Lest you think that Jane’s Exchange is a store only, be forewarned. Kevin Miceli, father and owner of Ciao for Now, a popular East Village cafe, describes the store as "a vital, if not essential, component in the lives of not only local families but families from all over the greater New York City area." In addition to consigning and selling affordable clothing and children's gear, Jane's Exchange has become a place where parents come for events, referrals, and support for the numerous challenges facing today's urban families. In a letter to the community board when Jane's Exchange was seeking their help, Lise Engel, mother of 12-year-old twins, wrote in her support: "It is not often that a store moves beyond the basic requirements of selling goods and making a profit to serving some very fundamental needs of a community." Writer and mother Jayme Adachi concurs, "It is more than a store. It is there that I learned the best way to burp my baby, there that I found out about local babysitters, there that I found students when I began teaching a neighborhood baby-and-me yoga classes, there that I made tentative inquiries into the neighborhood schools."
At a time when chain stores are taking over and prices of everything continue to rise, Jane's Exchange is a unique oasis with a wide variety of styles and brands at prices unheard of elsewhere in the city. "I don't know if we'll be able to move again," says Dorsey. "But we have a 10-year lease, and that's another generation of kids and consignments and doing what we love to do."