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Meet Allison McGowan, co-founder and owner of Teich Toys & Books in NYC’s West Village and the newest interviewee in our series of conversations with Estella retailers! Allison and her husband first opened Teich in 2011 with a focus on gifts and home goods, and then opened a second location down the street specifically for toys and books a few years later. Read on to learn more about Allison, her favorite parts of owning a small business, and can’t miss spots to check out in the West Village…
1. You opened Teich, the gift & accessories boutique, in 2011 and Teich Toys & Books down the street in 2014 – what was the impetus for opening the second, kids-focused boutique?
When we opened Teich we envisioned it as a small, local general store selling gifts and interesting items for people of all ages. We stocked a small selection of baby gifts and kids toys and they were a hit immediately. People in the neighborhood were looking for a place to buy these things and there wasn’t much around here. After a few years, it became clear to us that were we to expand, it would be in this arena. One day the perfect location became available down the street (across the street from the neighborhood playground) and we just knew it had to be a toy store.
2. Teich celebrates “small-batch manufacturing and handcrafted design.” Where do you discover these brands, and are there any new ones you’ve found recently that should be on our radar?
We find our designers in so many ways. Many of them reach out to us or get recommended to us by customers. We love to check out craft fairs such as Renegade. One of my favorite places to find independent designers is on Etsy. There’s so much amazing talent on there. And being in NYC, we are lucky that we can attend many trade shows.
Finding new brands is certainly one of my favorite parts of my job. We’ve got some new jewelry coming in from Zoe Comings that I’m very excited about. She’s in Austin and makes beautiful ceramic jewelry. We also stocked some lovely leather journals by Bone & Paper that are handmade in Brooklyn.
3. Best and worst parts of being your own boss?
Best: I love the flexible schedule. Since my husband is my business partner, and we live and work in the same neighborhood, we get to spend lots of time with our young son.
Worst: I have so many balls in the air at any given moment that I sometimes feel scattered and frustrated that I can’t complete a task. When this happens, I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that eventually it will all get done.
4. For customers who are looking for a special newborn or baby gift, what would you recommend?
I love a gift with a little humor, something that will make the recipient smile. Our giant Indy Plush stuffed animals or quirky Modern Moose clocks make fun and unexpected gifts! I’m also a fan of giving books. You can never have enough books!
5. Favorite #estellanyc product?
We all adore the stuffed taxi! It so cute and timeless and appeals to boys and girls alike. Plus it looks fantastic in the store!
6. What are some can’t-miss spots (restaurants, stores, parks, etc.) in the West Village we should check out if we’re in your ‘hood?
We love Meme, the Mediterranean restaurant on the corner. The food is delicious and the service friendly. The best part is you can sit outside on a nice day. Right across the street is the Bleecker Street playground, the neighborhood hotspot for the under 10 set.
7. The best part about summer in the city?
Biking with my family down the West Side Highway bike path. There’s so much to see and do along the way!