A long time local, Laura Healey arrived in the Santa Ynez Valley in 1974 and attended high school here. In 1991, she opened a store in Solvang, where she continues to do business today, stocking top quality baby and children’s clothes in a friendly boutique called Atterdag Kids.
“I just love the kids’ stuff,” Healey says. “Baby clothes is a huge business now, and what’s more fun than people having babies? It’s all so cute,” she smiles. “We sell a lot of baby layette items, little sleepers, girls’ dresses and gifts.”
Atterdag Kids carries high-end brands from noted designers, such as Baby Lulu, Margery Ellen, Kumquat, and Mimi and Maggie, a line that features girls’ dresses made from 100% organic cotton.
The store is also the world’s biggest retailer of Kissy Kissy, a celebrated label made in Peru. “That’s a brand we do very well with,” Healey says, “and we maintain a deep stock. They have dozens of collections and we have all the sizes.
“My best selling lines are made in Peru,” she adds. “They have really good factories there and they use quality Peruvian cotton that’s so soft and nice.”
What began 18 years ago as a consignment shop called Laura’s Trading Company has now evolved into a thriving new business, complete with a busy website and international clientele.
When Healey made the shift to Atterdag Kids about two years ago, she closed her consignment shop. All the clothing at her high-end baby and children’s boutique are favorite quality brands of new clothing.
At her dad’s suggestion, Healey renamed the shop Atterdag Kids (and promptly trademarked the moniker), because the store sits at the end of Atterdag Road, in the heart of Solvang.
From 1914 to 1970, the road was home to Atterdag College, the folk school built by the Valley’s Danish immigrants to serve their community’s cultural and social needs.
“Atterdag,” which means “another day” or “new dawn” in Danish, was taken from the name of a popular king who united the many disparate earldoms, and thus the country of Denmark, in the mid-1300s. Solvang’s founding fathers honored the memory of the great king, Valdemar Atterdag, by lending his name to both a busy thoroughfare and the school that stood atop the hill at its north end. Healey is delighted to carry on the tradition. Since the launch of the Atterdag Kids website two years ago, the location has also been pressed into service as a “storefront warehouse” for a booming Internet-based trade.
“My husband, who’s a retired pilot, has always wanted an e-commerce site,” Healey explains, “and he does our website. It’s a whole new frontier for sure.
“I like to mention the website to locals,” she continues, “because a lot of people have relatives all over the world. They can shop online, not even come into the store, have it gift wrapped and shipped out.”
Shoppers who do visit the store find a wonderland of children’s goodies, from bibs and blankets to baby outfits and clothes for boys and girls. Adding to the fun is an extensive selection of accessories, such as shoes, hair bows and tote bags. Inside the shop, Healey and her staff greet customers by name and will gladly gift wrap purchases before shipping them just about anywhere. “It’s just good, old-fashioned customer service,” she says, “and people are thrilled that we offer these services.
“I do personal shopping, too,” she continues. “Someone may call and say, ‘I have $1000 to spend and my baby boy wears size 12-18 months, I select outfits based on the likes of the customer and special order if needed.”
On the last Saturday of every August, Atterdag Kids hosts a lively back-to-school party and sale. With a jump-house for the children and savings for their parents, it’s a painless way to replenish wardrobes with colorful, stylish and welll-made clothes.
“We did it last year,” Healey says, “and we had school-themed hors d’oeuvres, pencils for the kids and a big sale. It was really fun!
“And besides,” she adds, “it’s good to shop local.”