Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 30
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors

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Iris Interiors

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Weather Forecast

It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

SMILES AT NIKO NIKO: “Every day is different here. It’s never boring. There is a personal feeling in our shop. We know people’s names when they come in, and we like to interact with customers,” says Kelly Jung, owner of Niko Niko, one of the fifteen shops comprising Nassau Place. Shown is a montage of the shop’s intriguing display.

Niko Niko Translates to “Smile” in Japanese and Everyone Smiles When They See the Shop

Kelly Jung, proprietor of Niko Niko at 20 Nassau Street, is often asked whether her name is Niko.

“”No,” she replies with a smile. “Niko Niko means ‘smile’ in Japanese. We hope that our small shop with the same name will bring contagious smiles all over Princeton!”

In the little over a year that the shop has been open, it has attracted a variety of customers, from ’tweens and teens to moms and college students. All are intrigued by this little shop, which is filled to the brim with colorful clothes and accessories — everything from dresses, shorts and tops, to flip-flops and handbags, to watches, clocks, and jewelry.

“We thought that Princeton didn’t have anything for 12-, 13-year-olds and young teens,” explains Ms. Jung. “We wanted to offer something fun, funky, and interesting. Initially, our main target was young teens, but now it’s really all ages. Moms love the store, and we get a lot of Princeton University students.”

Fun Fashion

Ms. Jung, who is originally from South Korea, came to the U.S. as a student, and although she was studying bio-medical engineering, with the intention of attending medical school, she found that she had an interest in fun fashion and an instinct for retail.

She and her mother, Sun Ko, had owned stores in northern New Jersey before deciding to launch Morning Glory, a children’s shop six years before opening Niko Niko. Both stores have an Asian influence, with items from South Korea and Japan in particular. In addition, the shop carries a variety of merchandise from England, France, India, and the U.S.

“Princeton is an interesting place, with a diverse group of people, and a lot of them have traveled,” points out Ms. Jung. “After we opened Morning Glory, my mom said to me, ‘Why don’t we open a clothing store with different kinds of clothes?’ My mom is very creative. She has an art background, and she is very visual. When she and I shop for the store, we want to be adventurous and different.”

They typically travel to Japan, South Korea, and London three times a year, searching for unusual and eye-catching items. “I love the shopping,” says Ms. Jung. “I love our retail adventure, and I love the customer interaction. It is wonderful that they like what we like!”

Julius the Monkey

Indeed, she and her mother select playful yet sophisticated items that strike a chord with the customers.

Popular designers and manufacturers include French Connection, Free People, Orla Kiely, Pylones, Miss Me, Kipling, and Paul Frank (of the Julius Monkey fame!). There are sunglasses with colorful frames from South Korea, footwear from Japan, and the very popular Japanese-inspired, Italian-designed, American-made Tokidoki handbags.

Fun and colorful clothes are favorites with shoppers. Denim jackets and jeans, T-shirts and sweat shirts all have the Niko Niko flair.

“We have all the basics, including leggings, but they can be different,” notes Ms. Jung. For example, hot pink lacy leggings are an eye-catching treat.

“A very popular item this summer has been the romper,” she adds. “It’s sort of a jumper/halter top with shorts attached. There is a variety of designs and colors, and people love it. It’s from Japan, as well as other countries, and is a very big seller.”

Another specialty is the assortment of “Magic Socks”, “Magic Top and Shorts”, and “Magic Capris”. These resemble those novelty-type memo pads often seen beside the telephone. But when placed in water, they are transformed into totally wearable socks, T-shirts, boxer shorts, and capri pants in many vivid colors and designs.

Colorful Clocks

“You just put it in water, let it dry, and then wear it,” says Ms. Jung. “These are wonderful camp and traveling gifts.”

Accessories are great fun at the store, and colorful clocks are in demand, as is the selection of watches, also brightly colored and engaging. A variety of watches on a chain is part of the store’s very popular jewelry selection. Watches on chains offer panda, tennis racket, and tiny handbag designs, among others.

Bright flower rings are favorites at $7.99, and other prices include sunglasses and flip-flops at $10, T-shirts at $20, and Magic T’s and shorts at $25. Jewelry is $15 and up. A current sale offers a 20 percent discount on T-shirts.

Niko Niko also demonstrates concern for the environment, which is reflected in such merchandise as the handbags made of recycled computer keyboards, and wristlets, and cell phone and key cases crafted from brightly colored recycled materials.

Finding a gift for a young friend or a special something for yourself is a pleasure at this vibrantly visual shop.

“I look forward to continuing what we have started,” says Ms. Jung. “We love to share what we have with our customers and, if you bring in this article before August 31, we will offer you a 10 percent discount on a purchase.”

Niko Niko is open Monday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 10 to 7. (609) 356-0181. For further information, google Niko Niko

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