textile
Robin Cooper, pictured inside the store’s new location at Harbour View, has worked at The Velveteen Rabbit for 20 years. It moved to North Suffolk from Chesapeake last November.
Robin Cooper, pictured inside the store’s new location at Harbour View, has worked at The Velveteen Rabbit for 20 years. It moved to North Suffolk from Chesapeake last November.

Archived Story

Store finds Harbour View home

Published 10:32pm Friday, March 29, 2013

It would be difficult to fault The Velveteen Rabbit owner Diane Wand’s reason for relocating the children’s boutique from its longtime Chesapeake location to North Suffolk’s Harbor View.

“Our landlord let a smoke shop go right next door,” Wand said.

Such a business would be an ill-advised neighbor for any store selling high-end children’s clothing, nursery furniture and toys to new and expecting couples and grandparents.

So last November, the store relocated from its Western Branch premises of more than two decades to 7386 Harbour Towne Parkway, near Harris Teeter and other more-upscale shops and restaurants.

“I think it’s a growing area,” Wand said of Harbour View. “This shopping center is more suited to our business. It’s a little more family oriented.”

For a business that was so long in the one location, however, the move has resulted in one issue.

Everyone knew where The Velveteen Rabbit was in Western Branch, but some folks have yet to find it in a different city and on the other side of the Hampton Roads Beltway.

“I think that we have picked up some new business, but we have also lost a lot of business,” Wand said.

The move, she said, required putting stock in storage for two months during the new store’s build-out.

Many people “think we have gone out of business,” said Wand, who has been “trying to get the word out” that this isn’t the case.

“I think it’s just a matter of time before people will find us again. (But) it’s been a difficult season, trying to get the word out.”

Wand said that the new North Suffolk location suits the store’s main target demographics, new parents in the 25 to 35 age group and grandparents aged over about 60.

The store sells a large range of items made in America, and also offers a registry for baby showers.

“We actually have less square footage here, but it looks like we have more, because of the way we did the build-out,” Wand said.

Previous customers who have made it to the new store have responded positively, she said. “I had a lady walk in the other day saying, ‘Oh my gosh!’” she said.

The Velveteen Rabbit also offers a design service, and Wand said she would soon be conducting a “model search” for children to appear in store advertisements.

The store is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and can be reached at 483-0750. Or visit the website at www.thevelveteenrabbit.com.

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