New boutiques have been sprouting up across downtown Raleigh in recent years - from high-end men's clothing to handmade bags to flip flops.
Now kids are the focus of one of the latest stores to open. Nuvonivo, which opened quietly earlier this month, will celebrate its grand opening Saturday with sales and giveaways to customers. The store carries high quality play clothes from Germany and Canada along with a line of toys from Vermont.
Ray Malouf, who calls himself the store's chief go-to guy, tells me that this all began back in the mid-1960s when his grandfather started the family's company, Eastern Commercial Agencies, as a wholesale business representing brands from around the world and introducing them to retail markets in the Middle East and Far East. Malouf's dad took over the business in the 1980s with a focus on children's wear.
His parents moved to the Triangle in the late 1980s where Malouf and his sister grew up. He began working for the family business in 2009 out of a small condo downtown. That's when they first began developing plans for a storefront to introduce European and Canadian brands to the U.S. market.
In April 2012, the company launched it's first website. Nuvonivo (pronounced new-voh-nee-voh) is a play on the French words "nouveaux niveaux," which mean "new levels."
"That is what we want to bring to our customers everyday, new levels of quality, design and customer service," Malouf shared with me in an email.
Malouf started looking for retail space in January and settled on 111 E. Hargett St., just a block or so away from Marbles Kids Museum, a huge draw for so many families. Malouf plans to work together with the children's museum. Nuvonivo is a sponsor of this Saturday's Kickoff to Kindergarten.
I popped in this week to check out the store, which opened earlier this month, and met up with Malouf's mom, Joanne. The modern, open space features three clothing brands - Blue Seven and Kanz from Germany and Krickets of Canada from Canada. They carry sizes 3 months to 12 and are looking to expand their offerings to include items for newborns.
They also carry a line of wooden toys and blocks made in Vermont. It includes small trains that say "City of Oaks" and "Downtown Raleigh Express." Very cute.
The prices are certainly more than what you'd pay at Target and some mall stores, but, right now, many of the items are 50 percent off making, for instance, a cotton long-sleeve shirt with a playful floral design about $12.
Store hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays. The store will stay open late for First Fridays.
For its grand opening on Saturday, all apparel in the store will be 30 percent to 50 percent off. The first 250 customers will get a back-to-school gift. And they'll have a steel drummer outside the store from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For details, check the store's website.