WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A children’s clothing boutique that specializes in outfits for everything from first communions to graduations is closing after almost 30 years in business.
Mi Bebe Children's Clothing Store, which opened at 4147 Broadway near West 175th Street in 1986, is set to shutter because its owner can no longer afford rent for the space.
“The problem is not the changing business,” said owner Carmen Ramirez, 74. "It’s that the landlord wants to raise the rents like crazy.”
Ramirez said that she tried to negotiate a lower rent for the space, but that her landlord, Alma Realty, declined.
A representative from Alma said the company did not raise the rent, but confirmed it refused to lower it as Ramirez requested.
Ramirez said she was sad to see the shop shutter after outfitting several generations of the same family for their special moments. They've helped outfit young children for their baptisms, first communions, graduations and birthdays as well as to get them ready for relatives' events including Quinceañeras and weddings.
“I lived all of this, you know,” she said, gesturing to the frilly dresses and miniature three-piece suits hanging on the wall.
Ramirez’s daughter, who did not want to give her name, expanded on her mother’s sentiment.
“She lived through all of this clothing, through all of the little kids who came here,” she said. “When people come into shop, they often don’t know what size their child wears. My mom can take one look and know."
Ramirez added that several customers have stopped in to see her since she announced the store’s closing.
“They say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. Why are you leaving? Where will we buy our children’s clothes now?” she said, adding she plans to retire after the boutique closes for good this weekend.
A representative from Alma Realty said the shop next to Mi Bebe, I. Hardware Distributors, signed a lease to expand into the space.
The owner of the hardware store confirmed they plan to take over the space.