PARK SLOPE – After a decade of selling teethers, infant toys, and Brooklyn-emblazoned onesies, Lulu’s For Baby will be shuttering its 5th Avenue storefront at the end of July.
A decline in sales due to online shopping and a rent increase were challenging enough for business owner Brigitte Prat, but a recent ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] lawsuit filed against the shop at 44 5th Avenue was the final “nail in the coffin,” she told Bklyner.
A plaintiff—who has multiple suits against other local merchants—filed a complaint against Lulu’s for Baby stating that a step at the store’s entrance makes it inaccessible for customers with mobility impairments. These types of lawsuits are common for many small business owners who are not aware of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. Prat’s attorney informed her that the case could potentially cost her $20,000 to settle.
The good news for loyal customers in need of last-minute birthday presents or haircuts for their little ones is that Prat’s original shop, Lulu’s Cuts & Toys, will remain open at 48 5th Avenue, and she will bring her bestselling baby items to that store. Shoppers will be able to find toys for newborns up to two-years-old at this shop, along with the top-selling Brooklyn onesies and mini rock band t-shirts.
Originally from the Bronx, Prat moved to Park Slope from Manhattan in 1998 with her three-year-old daughter Lulu. She opened her first hair salon/toy store—named for her daughter—in 2001 on 5th Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Streets.
The growing business moved to its current location at 48 5th Avenue (between Dean and Bergen Streets) in 2004 and was so successful that Prat opened Lulu’s for Baby one door down in 2009, offering a curated selection of baby clothing, toys, and gear. “I wanted it to be the go-to place for parents,” she said.
Prat also opened a children’s consignment shop, Lulu’s Then & Now, first at 75 5th Avenue then at 187 4th Avenue, for five years before closing that business in 2017.
Faced with mounting financial challenges, Prat decided two weeks ago to close Lulu’s for Baby and immediately put items on sale for 25% off. The discount will go up to 50% this weekend.
“Sweetie, I can get that online cheaper,” is a refrain Prat constantly hears parents tell their kids while shopping in her stores. Lulu’s does not offer online sales because Prat doesn’t think she can compete with the big online retailers or afford to run that side of the business.
“You can’t get a haircut online,” she countered. On a busy Saturday, Lulu’s Cuts & Toys can trim the locks of up to 75 kids. Prat employs four stylists—one has been working with her for 17 years.
Prat also has five sales people on staff, but sadly, with the baby store closing, she will have to let one go—a 73-year-old who has worked with her for five years. Prat explained that the employee does not want to shift to the more hectic Kids & Cuts store which caters to 3- to 10-year-olds.
As for the store’s namesake, she’s now 23 and attending NYU. Prat says her daughter is sad about Lulu’s for Baby closing but is relieved that her mother will get to slow down a bit and possibly take some time off—something she hasn’t been able to do in two years while running both shops.
“Be thoughtful of your local businesses. Really try to find out if they have what you need,” Prat said, encouraging shoppers to support their neighborhood stores over online retailers. “Just walk down the street…. Shop local.”