By Trudy Whitman
I have written frequently about the rough-around-the-edges nature of Cobble Hill in 1972 when I first moved here. My husband and I actually liked the neighborhood’s edginess and fell in love with the mom and pop food purveyors. But for theater, film, and restaurants, we were Manhattan-bound every weekend.
When our children were born, the lack of services and entertainment was even more pronounced. I took a subway into Manhattan for a mothers’ support group in 1978. We formed playgroups to stave off loneliness when the weather became too cold for Pierrepont Playground.
It was only proximity to jobs and good schools that kept us here, so we continue to marvel at how kid-centric the Hills & Gardens have become since we were young parents. (A new restaurant on Atlantic Avenue advertises “valet stroller parking.”)
As a result of neighborhood demographics, the last thing that Lindsey Engler was concerned about when she opened Picnic, a children’s clothing and accessory shop on Amity Street on March 16, was client base. Having just had a child herself, she saw a “huge need” in the community.
Engler has lived in Brooklyn Heights for five years and used to commute to Manhattan for her job in the apparel industry. But like many young moms returning to the workforce, she found her job too demanding of her time, and she wanted to be physically closer to her baby girl. Having been a fashionista since childhood, the notion of owning her own shop one day had always been a dream, so she began searching for local sites.
One-story 192 Amity Street was vacant for a long time. Its most recent iteration was a short-lived shoe store. Although the structure was a handyman’s special, when she saw it Lindsey Engler immediately envisioned a boutique resembling “a little house.” She liked as well the idea that the landlord was willing to let her renovate the interior to highlight the merchandise and make shopping easier for parents by including a play area for kids. The fact that she has an architect husband — her very own handyman — made the decision to rent the needy space much easier. And the property owner has agreed to renovate the façade adhering to Landmarks regulations, Engler said.
Picnic currently carries 35 brands for boys and girls with sizes ranging from newborn to 10. “These are lines that cannot be found in department stores,” Engler noted. “Some are organic, some are fair-trade, and everything is washable.”
As a brand-new grandparent, I oohed and aahed over dresses by LA Made, onesies by Tooby Doo and Pluto, and pajamas by Rowdy Sprout. Some of the many accessory lines include umbrellas by Kidorable, towels and swaddles by Aden + Anais, hair clips by Giddy Giddy, and 3 Sprouts storage bins.
The free-and-easy, running-through-the grass picnic theme (ants and all) fits nicely with the spring and summer fashions currently showing. But even in winter, this bright new shop will be the perfect antidote to chase away cold-weather malaise.
The shop is open seven days a week from 10:30 a.m.—6 p.m.
Picnic: 192 Amity Street, near Court; 718 237-0670; picnicbrooklyn.com.