The answer: “I have to do what every other mom-and-pop shop owner does. This place is the hip-hop Mecca, if you know what I mean.” The store sells the most varied collection of clothing for both boys and girls, as well as fashion accessories, books and toys. The walls are covered in posters of artists who came to St. Petersburg and St. Paul to learn from each other. “We’re all here,” says Kim, with a chuckle.
D.C. resident Annette Lee’s collection of clothing is in the same line of business: She began it four years ago with two sons, who “love it.” She and her husband, a lawyer, have lived in the neighborhood for the past 12 years and shop every other month. “I’m not going to stop for someone else’s collection,” she says. “If you’re gonna stop at the grocery store, that’s just going nowhere.” Lee’s clothes will be on display at a children’s book fair next weekend in the D.C. Common, one of the oldest buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. “My son’s a huge bookhead and I can do that,” said Lee, who bought her collection on the side. “But if I’m the one in the shop, my children are gonna be like, ‘Mom’s got nothing. Mom’s got nothing.’ ”
There’s no reason for a woman in her 60’s to be on the shelves at the St. Paul and Minneapolis in New York Ave. area. But when I walk into the store, what I see is not only the best store in town, it’s also one of the most diverse. While I was there I noticed the older guys in suits in the hallway wearing sneakers that were still the size of my shoe size when I arrived. A young punk on the first floor, who says he runs a tattoo shop in St. Paul, sits opposite my daughter’s collection of clothes. “I really think hip hop is the next big thing, and it needs to be embraced,” he says. “We need our street style represented.” When I ask him how old his customers are, he says, “A couple years,” then tells me his first customers were all in their 20s. “I was in the early ’90s too, when it was still all about hip-hop,” he says. “But now, it’s hipster. It’s cool to show up.”
The young women behind the counter are
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