Type of Place: Kids
Description: Sushi, karaoke, anime...add a new item to the list of popular Japanese cultural presences hitting the States with the arrival of Bit'z Kids on the Upper West Side. This shop, which opened in September and offers charming children's clothes, accessories, and toys, is the first of its kind in the U.S., but the company's 100-plus stores have been going strong in Japan for years.
I discovered the shop while checking out the to-be-floating Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons, which can be found on the blocks flanking the Museum of Natural History, getting blown up and tied down, on the day and night before their big reveal. Tourists and natives alike jostle along for a chance to see classics like Snoopy and Kermit the Frog as well as emerging newbies (this year, Dr. Seuss' Horton the Elephant made his first flight); and in the process of navigating those crowds, I was happy to duck into the appealing Bit'z Kids space for a little shopping break.
To be fully honest, the signs in their window proclaiming a great sale drew me in as well. The $10 table offered the chance for lovely holiday gifts at stocking-stuffer prices: mulsin camisoles in pink or ivory; blue jeans printed with stripes and strawberries; various leggings (I especially loved red ones trippily decorated with snails, umbrellas, and guitars).
Beyond the $10 bargains, prices are reasonable and designs extremely cute throughout the store. Plaid flannel shirts (introducing a 90s revival, perhaps?) are $29; unisex booties are $6; delightful prairie skirts are on sale for $30; and cozy sweatshirts proclaiming "Horse Weather Vane Windy" (with appropriate vane imagery) are $30. Onesie outfits that can double as pajamas speak of "North Law School" ($29); "Custom Club Kansas" ($42, in thicker cotton with a collar); and "Eco Adventure Tour Guided Tour Including Suspension Bridge ($29; and yes, they fit all that on one onesie!).
In the sweetly-mistraslated-packaging department, a pack of 2 bodysuits ($28, printed with cherries and teddy bears) urges buyers, "Let's Enjoy Amusing Life In Your Own"--words to live by for sure! In addition to outfits, there are backpacks and bags, shoes and tights, some toys for sale, and other toys open for immediate consumption in the play area. (I thought an enthusiastic toddler was wreaking havoc on the shop's for-sale merchandise till I realized it had been laid out exactly for customers like him.)
As Bob Marley on the sound system segued into Japanese pop, I made lists of the kids in my life and which items would be the best matches for them. Fun, quirky, and relaxed is the feel here, making Bit'z Kids a welcome oasis at any this or any season. -Pamela Grossman; Nov 30, 2008
410 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024