Tuckahoe recently welcomed a new, different kind of business for families: Lil Chameleon.
Serving as a kind of one-stop-shop for all things kid-related, Lil Chameleon features a resale boutique, classes, birthday parties and a snack bar that actually has healthy offerings. Read on to learn more about this hot new spot!
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Stylish décor welcomes visitors, reflective of Lil Chameleon’s vibe.
Though Lil Chameleon has been open only since October 4, owner Carolyn “CC” Benitez hit the ground running, with a week of free trial classes and two events coming up this month: a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a Halloween Monster Mash, both of which are free.
We recently visited the new store, and as soon as we crossed the threshold, my 12-year-old gasped and said she wanted to live there. The décor is indeed both striking and inviting, reflective of Benitez’s background in design.
“I was longing to find a neighborhood place: somewhere that had a hip, cozy, welcoming vibe for families and their kids," she said. "I knew if I was looking for it, I probably wasn’t alone."
After 20 years of working in fashion, Benitez underwent a career change to accommodate her new lifestyle when her son was born. Relocating from Brooklyn to Yonkers, she eventually shifted to a family focus to leverage her retail experience while bringing value to other families.
The resale boutique offers clothes, shoes—even Halloween costumes!
The boutique carries children's clothes from newborn through size 12, as well as shoes, toys, books and gear. Our visit revealed a timely Halloween display with costumes and garments that looked like they came straight from the factory, not someone else’s closet.
Lil Chameleon utilizes a transparent point-of-sale system designed specifically for resale that scans the internet and other resellers to provide a fair resale price. Item category, brand, quality, size, inventory levels and item popularity also affect the price. The store gives sellers the option of either 30% of the selling price in cash or 50% in-store credit, which can be used for up to six months from the time of sale.
Because of limited space, Benitez is selective about what she purchases. A list of manufacturers whose products she does not purchase for resale is posted on the store’s website. To help find a good home for items she’s unable to buy, Benitez partners with social-service organizations like The Sharing Shelf and YWCA of Central Westchester and North White Plains.
Examples of artwork created in the free-trial printmaking class.
Classes are offered for kids aged 12 and under. Topics currently include printmaking, yoga and learning Spanish through music. Pro-rating for late enrollees is available, as are drop-in classes.
The café is self-serve, with an assortment of local baked goods, light snacks, coffee and espresso drinks, fresh-pressed juices and other “real food” snack options for purchase. Bags of baked pita chips, multigrain tortilla chips and Baked by Susan baked goods are among the highlights. This area, replete with comfy couches and table seating, provides a cozy spot for caregivers waiting for their kids—or even a meet-up when no kids are in tow. Take note that cash is not accepted; it's credit cards only.
Birthday parties are also offered, both “DIY” (i.e., space rental; the host provides the arrangements) and custom parties.
Healthy options (phew!) are available at the café.
Though newly opened, Benitez is thinking ahead. She is working on a rewards program in the resale boutique in the coming months. Classes and services are also expected to evolve as new partnerships are established and in response to the community’s input. A pay-per-class structure for some classes and events is also being considered.
Lil Chameleon is open Monday-Friday 9:30am-6:00pm, Saturday 9:30am–6:30pm and closed Sundays.
All photos by the author.