New York -- Venerable downtown Manhattan A/V retailer J&R Music & Computer World has added a new little one to the family.
J&R Jr., a new 15,000-square-foot "super boutique" described as "a one-stop shopping and social destination for kids and parents" celebrated its grand opening at 1 Park Row, on the second floor of J&R Computer World's City Hall-facing storefront on Monday.
The new outlet, the brainchild of executive VP Jason Friedman and his wife Danielle, boasts a highly curated merchandise mix of parenting essentials ranging from strollers and car seats, to toys, games, furniture, musical instruments, crafts and books, as well as several dedicated walls and displays for electronic toys, gaming consoles, kids' media players, tablets, A/V baby monitors and other small electronics and housewares.
Interactive displays are numerous, as are play areas and activity stations for kids of all ages.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony attracted a host of local New York politicians and press, and included comments by J&R co-founder (and Jason's mother) Rachelle Friedman, Manhattan Borough president Scott Stringer, Manhattan Councilwoman Margaret Chin, Jason and others.
The opening ceremony followed a soft opening over the weekend that included musical performances by popular childrens' entertainers such as Laurie Berkner and Dan Zanes, among others.
A proclamation from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was read aloud by Friedman, declaring Feb. 13 "J&R Jr. Day" in New York City. The timing of the Monday morning opening was not accidental, as International Toy Fair kicked off in the city. A reception for Toy Fair attendees was held that evening.
Freidman, who launched and ran J&R's e-commerce site for his parents, said the concept for the store came to him when his first child was born a few years ago, and he found himself and his wife "completely overwhelmed by the big-box baby supply chains." He added that all the merchandising for the store was done by him and his wife, along with his newly formed merchandising team.
"We approached it as parents first," he said. "We were very selective with our mix and wanted to keep it simple, interactive and fun from a shopping standpoint. We knew which products worked for us and wanted to make it easy for new parents."
The name, J&R Jr., came naturally, as it has been Jason's nickname for as long as he's worked for his parents.
The newest expansion of J&R's string of storefronts, which takes up an entire city block in the shadow of the site of the former World Trade Center complex, serves a rapidly growing residential area of Manhattan. Friedman cited Downtown Alliance statistics illustrating that residency has more than doubled in Lower Manhattan since 9/11, and continues to grow faster than any other region of New York City.
Said Friedman: "When you step through the doors of J&R Jr. you will be entering a kids zone -- a judgement-free world where you can escape the busy world outside, and once more become a kid again ... whether its finding the missing piece to a puzzle, erecting a looming tower of blocks, serving tea to the princess, or slaying a virtual fire-breathing dragon. Everyone will be welcomed here and we will be ready to assist you in finding that elusive baby gift or the latest essentials for child-proofing your home."