After Deluca's Pizzeria moved just a few feet from its former location at 831 Central Ave., a new shop has taken its place, but instead of selling pizza it sells children's clothing and accessories.
Tater Tots Kids Fashion & Fun has taken over Deluca's old spot, owned by Lori Bowen, who also owns and operates Run Stop at 218 Central Ave. and Trail Mix at 518 Central Ave.
Anthony Valinoti, "the owner, is a good friend," Bowen said. "Love him to death. And so, when I found out that he was moving next door, (I) visited with him about the possibility of looking into this space and then connected with the owner of the building. It was in transition at the time, but it worked out. And now we're here, and we can still smell the pizza. It's amazing."
Video not playing? Click here https://www.youtube.com/embed/AZCBSRjulvA
Bowen has been a local business owner for about three years now, after opening Run Stop in July 2020, she said. After running out of room for the trail running section, she opened Trail Mix at another location. She then brought children's items into Trail Mix, but outgrew that section as well, and decided to open another store selling solely children's products.
"It really has been fantastic," she said of the new shop's opening on April 1. "It was just so fun watching it come together. And so many of my friends -- my children are grown, so it was so fun just seeing all the little tiny things and all the kids things. But, so many of my friends have got young kids or grandkids, and it's really been fun watching them getting excited about the store, watching the staff get excited about the store, and it's just been a lot of fun watching it come together."
Even though owning and operating three shops downtown, with the help of a "great group of employees," she said, Bowen still works full time as sales director for a medical device company.
Although her children are grown, Bowen still has three french bulldogs at home, of which the first two are called "Tater" and "Tot," she said, "cause they looked like little potatoes."
"So, that's where the name came from," she said. "It's from my little dogs that we call tater tots. It's pretty fun. And then, you know, the whole toddler, tot thing. It just worked."
Although Tater Tots doesn't currently have a website to visit, the store is active on Facebook and Instagram with the username @tatertotshotsprings. But, Bowen said the future may still include an option to shop at Tater Tots online. For now, though, the store is focused on locals and tourists.
"Still, with all three stores dealing with inventory constraints because of COVID, and as a result of, and so I want to make sure that we're able to help our local customers and our tourists here and not be pulling inventory from the store for online sales," she said.
"I just want this to be known as, you know, a place that you can come and find knowledgeable stuff, great brands, good variety. I've got so many of my friends that tell me they can't find cute little boy's clothes, they can't find this or that, and I really listen to all of that feedback and try to find those things. So, I really just want it to be a place for not just the tourists, but the local clientele as well to know that they can come and find what they need."