New store in Montecito caters to 8-to-14 year olds
When Ana Rudnicki opened Lemondrop, a store catering to kids between the ages of 8 and 14, she had two goals in mind.
“I wanted to make it an easy, fun shopping experience for parents and children, and I wanted the kids to know that I see them, and I know what they want,” said Mrs. Rudnicki, who was thrilled to see a young customer creating a TikTok video with one of her favorite items at the shop.
Marketing research to ensure success was no problem. All she had to do was check with her four children — Paloma, 12; Simone, 10; and twins, Clara and Luke, 8.
“There aren’t many places that focus on that age group. When they get to be 8 and 10, it’s a weird landscape. It’s hard to find age-appropriate clothes that parents and kids can agree on,” she said. “There are really cute things out there, but it takes time to search for them. We bring it all together at Lemondrop.”
The shop, which opened May 27 in upper Montecito Village at the corner of San Ysidro and East Valley roads, carries clothes for girls and boys, bathing suits, jackets, sweat suits and shoes, as well as gifts, toys and more.
Clothing brands include Candy Pink, Vintage Havana, DL1961, Feather 4 Arrow, Siesta Surf and many others.
“We’re the only place in town that has shoes for this age group. We carry 65 different shoes in a range of sizes from 12 Little Kid to 8 Big Kid. They include flip flops, sandals, boots, rain boots and regular boots. Brands include Toms, Steve Madden. Salt Water, People and others,” said Mrs. Rudnicki, who moved to Montecito in 2017 with her husband Paul Rudnicki and their family.
“Coming from a big city like Dallas was an adjustment in terms of retail and resources. I quickly learned that when Nordstrom shut down. I didn’t know where to go to buy clothes for my children,” she said. “One mother told me she was going to Thousand Oaks to shop. I thought that was crazy. We should be able to shop in Santa Barbara.
“Ordering shoes online was a particular problem because same sizes can differ in fit. Besides, children want to try things on. They’re very tactile. They need to be able to touch and feel, which they can do at Lemondrop.
Kids want to try stuff on, make sure they like it and pick out their own clothes.”
There is also a self-care section that features nail polish, hairbrushes, lotions, body glitter, soaps and more.
“I also offer games and activities that don’t involve cell phones or computers to encourage quality family time,” said Mrs. Rudnicki,
who grew up in Plantation, Fla., and earned her bachelor’s degree in English at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Afterward she worked in public relations for Neiman Marcus and then started her own magazine with friends.
“It was called Bee Woman, a quarterly that included finance, lifestyle and politics. I left after two years to start a family,” said Mrs. Rudnicki.
Roller skates and backpacks are among the myriad merchandise at the store, where price point is a major factor.
“Items have to be cute and affordable,” said Mrs. Rudnicki who does all the buying. “Squishmallows are a hot item, and I’m expecting a shipment of mini Squishmallows any day.”