Upper East Side — Bug spray, sleeping bags and flashlights have long been considered summer camp essentials. Now, one Upper East Side store is adding personalized trunks to the list of must-haves.
Taroo Too, a kids’ clothing boutique on First Avenue near 77th Street, started offering to hand paint the footlockers that many children pack for sleepaway camp last year. Owner Theresa Russo said the idea came to her after seeing what a big role camp played in the lives of many children in the neighborhood.
“We can’t really outfit kids for camp, so we were trying to think of other camp-related things we could do,” she said. “We started with custom Rainbow Loom cases, which did very well, so then we tried the trunks.”
Russo hires artists to do the painting and said that they can create almost any design the customer has in mind. She has gotten requests for sports-themed trunks, designs based on various camp logos and even one featuring the Minions from the animated film "Despicable Me."
The most popular design so far this year?
“'Frozen,'" Russo said, referring to Disney’s most recent animated blockbuster. “Everything right now is about 'Frozen.'”
Russo said that while the trunks started as an idea for camp, many of her customers end up making them a permanent part of their children’s bedroom or even ordering them for the home.
“People have been surprised by the quality,” she said. “We’ve had grandparents give them as gifts for kids who are into American Girl dolls or have some kind of collection.”
Each customized trunk costs $300 and includes purchase of the footlocker. The painting takes about two weeks to complete. Comparable trunks without hand-painted designs cost between $150 and $200 depending on the size. About 15 people have placed orders so far this year, but Russo expects the pace to pick up as camp season draws closer. She said the idea is particularly well-suited to the surrounding neighborhood.
“Why not?” she said. “It’s the Upper East Side. Everyone goes to sleepaway camp.”