The DC children’s shop Three Littles, once just a stall at Union Market, is officially open as a brick-and-mortar.
Owner Elizabeth Mahon, 31, launched her Union Market-neighborhood store earlier this month, which is named for the three children she once nannied. The space contains the same kinds of items her fans have come to love: gender-neutral and sustainably produced clothes, toys, and accessories for little ones (plus treats like candles and bath salts for tired parents).
The H Street resident launched the original stall location of her company a year ago, but when the pandemic rolled around, she pulled out of the spot. “[I was] running all sales out of my apartment and all my inventory was in my 550-square-foot apartment,” she says. “It was a special time.”
As it turns out, the pandemic had an effect on her business in multiple ways: If it wasn’t for Covid, Mahon says, she wouldn’t have been able to score the deal on her brick-and-mortar space after bigger companies, affected by the pandemic, had to drop their leases.
“I decided to do that in April,” she says, “which, saying that loud, makes me sound like a full insane person.”
She also tweaked her inventory, stocking education tools, arts-and-crafts supplies, and activities for older children—all things to help parents keep their kids occupied while stuck schooling and playing indoors.
Mahon’s new space is airy and clean-lined, reflecting the kind of Scandinavian-minimalist aesthetic seen in the clothes and toys she sources—think printed swaddles from Clementine Kids and kid-sized sunglasses from Grech & Co. The back half of the store is reserved for events like music classes and workshops for expecting parents, which she will host once it’s safe.
In the meantime, she has plans for outdoor, socially distant events such as pumpkin-painting classes and parent meet-ups for those “trying to figure out how to navigate this time with little ones at home.”
As for Covid precautions, all display tables and shelves in the store are spaced about 10 feet apart, says Mahon, and she’s limiting occupancy to six customers at a time. Everyone must use hand sanitizer and wear a mask to enter. For those wary of perusing in public spaces, you can purchase an item online and have it shipped or pick it up at the store. Mahon is also offering private shopping sessions by request if you want to browse sans crowds.
Mahon admits she’s nervous about launching a shop during the middle of a pandemic that has toppled the economy and closed many small businesses. “It’s so sad,” Mahon says of seeing other local stores shutter, “because I know what a labor of love this can be and how hard it is and how much you have to believe in this, not only in order for it to succeed, but in order for it to even come into existence.”
But her nerves are balanced by a healthy dose of optimism: “It sounds so corny, but if there’s one thing that I have learned, it’s that this community shows up for people who show up for them,” she says of DC. “They send gifts and shop with me instead of Amazon. They go out of their way, even if it means they have to wait a little bit longer and pay more, if it means they can support a small business and keep this city a more interesting place, instead of just having a CVS and Whole Foods on every corner.”
While Three Littles is currently open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mahon plans to extend her hours to seven days a week during the holidays.
Three Littles; 1260 4th St. NE