Proprietor: Shop Talk with Local Store Owners

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Welcome to Proprietor, our series of interviews with local shop owners. Over the next few weeks, we’ll introduce you to the men and women who own some of the best boutiques and cafes in Baltimore to give you a chance to know who’s who as the local holiday shopping season begins.  First up: Ken Himmelstein of Samuel Parker Clothier, Cookie Schneider of The Pied Piper, and Robert and Rosann Glick of the Village Square Cafe, all in the Village of Cross Keys. Come back next week to meet more local proprietors.- The Eds.

Proprietor: Kenneth Himmelstein of Samuel Parker Clothier

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Since its opening in 2002, Baltimore’s best-dressed men have relied on Samuel Parker Clothier for their sartorial needs. This fall, the shop moved to a new, larger location in the Village of Cross Keys, where owners Kenneth and Ellen Himmelstein expanded their selection of men’s clothing and accessories, adding a selection of home goods and furnishings.

Samuel Parker is named for Kenneth Himmelstein’s grandfather, a man well-known among his peers for his fantastic sense of style. Himmelstein inherited his grandfather’s taste and eye for quality. Here, he shares the story behind the shop and what he’s most excited about this season:

How did you get started at Samuel Parker Clothier?

My wife, Ellen, and I opened Samuel Parker in the fall of 2002. We had been on the wholesale side of the apparel business for many years and wherever we went – New York, London, LA – we ran into businessmen and professionals from home who were shopping for quality menswear and labels that were not available in Baltimore.

Clothing has been a passion since I was a teenager and I first took a job at Frank Leonard, the iconic University Shop of the time. Along with the best designer labels, we own the Frank Leonard trademark and use it on our most classic oxford cloth shirts.

What is your favorite item in the shop right now?

My favorite item at the moment is our four-ply cashmere cardigan from Scotland. We have these made every year and this fall we have it in a gorgeous charcoal gray. I have guys who collect these sweaters, adding a new color each season!

What is your go-to holiday gift recommendation?

With the opening of our new shop in Cross Keys, we’ve added select home furnishings, handsome lambswool blankets from Scotland, sofa pillows that look like sports jackets and a selection of books and periodicals for the gentleman customer.

Which style icon or celebrity could you imagine shopping at Samuel Parker?

I’m certain Cary Grant and Fred Astaire would be my customers!

What’s new and exciting at Samuel Parker?

Most exciting this fall is our dramatically expanded footwear department, handmade in the US and UK. We’ve always carried a selection of fine footwear but here we’re showing many more styles, including many more casual loafers and boots.

Samuel Parker Clothier

86 Village Square

Village of Cross Keys

Baltimore, MD 21210

410-435-5000; www.samuelparker.com

Proprietor: Cookie Schneider of The Pied Piper

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For several generations, The Pied Piper has been the go-to shop for classic, well-made clothing, accessories and gifts for Baltimore’s youngest residents. From lovely layettes to little girls’ first party dresses and boys’ first blue blazers, The Pied Piper carries the best – and the cutest – brands and styles.

Run by Cookie Schneider, the energetic daughter of the store’s founder Kathryn DeVincentis, The Pied Piper has been a Baltimore mainstay since 1965. Here, Schneider shares some of the story behind the shop, what’s popular right now and what’s new and exciting this season:

How did you get started at Pied Piper?

My mother, Kathryn DeVincentis, she became affectionately known as Mrs. D, started this shop in 1965 on Wyndhurst Avenue and we’ve been in Cross Keys since 1995.

Out of all the kids in the family, I was the one who took an interest in the business. I grew up working in the business as a kid – tagging along to New York for all the buying trips. I became full-time when my kids started school full time, around 1990.

What is your favorite item in the shop right now?

How am I going to pick one thing? I pick everything by hand and only pick the things I love and my customers will love. It’s very difficult to pick my favorite but I have a few things that are always go-tos for certain ages.

For the babies, it’s the beautiful little chenille sweater, hat and blanket sets. The boys’ have beautiful pewter teddy bear buttons and the girls’ have organza treatments. We sell them over and over because they’re so beautiful and luxurious for newborn babies.

And the chunky knit roll neck sweaters, special ordered with initials knitted into the sweaters – our letter sweaters. They are so cute. They come in great colors and we do a contrasting color for the first letter of the child’s name. That’s just adorable.

What is your go-to holiday gift recommendation?

The quintessential Christmas outfits – the beautiful classics that are timeless – are the plaids and embroidered dresses, pants for boys, smocked dresses for girls.

We also carry the classic older toys that grandparents and parents love to give because they’re reminiscent of when they were growing up: old fashioned block sets, scooter cars and fire trucks from a wonderful company that makes retro toys. We carry a lot of that look.

People love to give PJs for Christmas. We carry a line called “Books To Bed.” They come in prints with a matching story book – a beautifully leather-bound book. They come in Babar, Curious George, Fancy Nancy, Pinkalicious, the Twelve Days of Christmas. The print matches the book.

Which style icon or celebrity kid could you imagine shopping at Pied Piper?

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck’s kids, Violet, Seraphina and Samuel. They have a traditional look with contemporary flair. Especially for our younger looks – babies up through girls’ size seven. For the bigger girls, it’s about what is latest in contemporary fashion but very clean and age-appropriate.

What’s new and exciting at Pied Piper? Any trends for this fall and winter?

My mom taught me very early on never to stand still – we keep up with the times and keep current. But there’s always the desire for the clean, classic look. I look for younger designers making contemporary looks that are rooted in a classic, traditional style.

Recently, we’ve expanded our gifts and toy selection and we’re starting to bring in a little footwear. I have these adorable little cap-toe shoes, in sparkly gold and pink for the holidays. They’re so cute, like little ballet flats with the elastic trim around the top of the shoe with a bow. They even come in baby sizes.

The Pied Piper

32 Village Square

Village of Cross Keys

Baltimore, MD 21210

410-435-2676; www.piedpiperchildrenswear.com

Proprietor: Roseann and Robert Glick of Village Square Café

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When Roseann and Robert Glick opened the Village Square Café in 2008, they had a specific vision in mind. They wanted to create a place where everyone felt welcome, from start to finish – like the patrons of the TV show bar “Cheers,” where “everybody knows your name.”

Six years later,  they’ve done just that, establishing themselves as a reliable spot for good, homemade food and friendly, attentive service.  Here, Roseann Glick shares some of the story behind the café:

How did you get started at the restaurant?

It was clear that there was a need at the Village of Cross Keys for a casual, quick service café to serve shoppers, retail workers, office workers, village residents and the many others who frequent the village. We opened six years ago with the hope of not only serving these customers but also becoming a welcoming neighborhood destination for those in the surrounding communities, including Roland Park, Evergreen, Mount Washington, Hampden and Guilford.

What is your favorite item on the menu at Village Square Café?

That’s a tough one! I can tell you a few of our most popular items. First and foremost is our turkey club, made with house-roasted sliced turkey breast. We roast two whole turkeys each day.

Our made-to-order half-pound burgers and our Reuben sandwich are probably tied for second place.

We also serve breakfast all day, seven days a week (including nights, on the three evenings we’re open for dinner).

Last, but certainly not least, we make all of our yummy soups from scratch and offer two varieties daily. They are very popular as well – especially this time of year!

What holiday meals or plans would you recommend for your diners?

Since the holiday season tends to be a busy time of year for most, with gift shopping and extra social commitments, the Village Square Café is the perfect place to stop in for a homemade meal instead of taking the time to cook at home. We are open seven days a week (7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and three evenings a week (Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 8 p.m.)

Just so we can get a sense of the vibe of the cafe, who is someone who we would know who you could see dining at your cafe?

We’re not big celebrity followers, but I Googled “laid back celebrities” to get some ideas. One article included Tom Hanks among their nicest and most laid back celebs. Since one of the things we pride ourselves on is not being fussy and pretentious, I thought, yes, I could see Tom Hanks hanging out at our café.

What’s new and exciting at Village Square Cafe?

We’re not the kind of place that is always offering something “new and exciting.” We are the kind of place that folks can count on for a good, freshly prepared, made-to-order meal, always served with a warm welcome.

And we feature live music every Saturday evening from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., showcasing a variety of talented local musicians.

Village Square Café

66 Village Square

Village of Cross Keys

Baltimore, MD 21210

410-433-2233; www.villagesquarecafe.com 

Remember to shop local on Small Business Saturday, November 29.



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