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30 Jan, Monday
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Montreal Families

This Just In: Balouni Enfants Toy Store Opening

This is Balouni Enfants pre-launch. The shelves are being stocked as we speak!

This is Balouni Enfants pre-launch. The shelves are being stocked as we speak!

I hate shopping at Toys R Us. There, I said it.

It smells like plastic. There are towers of TV-related toys. The candy displays surrounding the cash registers are almost guaranteed to induce a tantrum. Fun is not included.

I would much rather take the kids somewhere else to buy toys. Somewhere like Balouni Enfants, a new independent children’s store in Montreal.

Balouni stocks toys, clothes and kids’ accessories, featuring many Canadian-made and eco-friendly products.

The launch of the store is the realization of a dream for Karina Von Byern, a good friend and neighbour. You know the kind of neighbour who will help track down an expert to take care of three orphaned baby squirrels that show up in your driveway? That’s Karina.

Balouni Enfants has its grand opening on Saturday, June 26, with animation for the kids. Plus, it’s right next to a Second Cup coffee shop, a casual lunch spot called Le Vin Levain, and close to the beautiful Lacoursière Park. Read on for details!

ISM: Tell us the story behind the name “Balouni”.

Karina: Balouni is my 4-year-old daughter’s imaginary sister from Africa. She’s been part of our family for over two years, after some friends went on an African safari and she was quite impressed by that. Balouni changes age and appearance a lot, and in the past was often blamed for many misdemeanors!

ISM: Opening a store has been a dream of yours for a long time – what made you decide to do it?

Karina: A really great location became available and I thought, “It’s now or never!” I always knew I had to open my own store.

ISM: What has been the best part of launching the store? The worst?

Karina: There are many great parts. Being a buyer is one of them. The support from the people around me. Pulling together the big picture. I’m still in pre-launch, so the real best part will come when the business is running successfully – that would be undescribeably rewarding! The worst part has been paying almost 4 months rent for an unopened store during renovations.

ISM: Many parents go for the convenience of buying children’s products at big-box stores like Wal-Mart or Toys R Us. How does Balouni offer a different experience?

Karina: Balouni offers conveniences that surpass those types of stores: free gift-wrapping, helium balloons for the kids, new baby gift-baskets, a play area. We’ll also have a birthday club where kids get signed up and … well, it’s a surprise!

As a small, neighbourhood retailer, I take customer service and a pleasant shopping experience seriously, and customers will feel it the moment they walk in. I look at the origins and safety of items, and encourage Canadian-made, ethically traded, eco-conscious, and educational products.

My father was an art dealer, so I value this artisan connection. We’ll have silly things like baby dinosaurs that hatch from eggs, T-Rex masks, shark bathing caps, etc. You’ll also find a really great selection of bilingual cards, books, CDs and stationery, too. Did I mention we’ll have gorgeous clothing?

Tell us about what you have planned for the store opening on Saturday, June 26.

Karina: FUN!! We’ll have face-painting and a balloon sculptor to entertain the kids while they discover the store with their parents. You’re all invited to the opening of Balouni Enfants, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 3, at 7 Place du Commerce, Nuns’ Island. (View map)

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