Buttered Noodles caters to kids

KidSurplus reopens with new store, new name

Dec. 22, 2010

By Tim Simard
Observer staff
Alan Levi, owner and president of Buttered Noodles, greets customers at the store’s registers. Formerly called KidSurplus, Buttered Noodles opened last month on Harvest Lane and greatly increased its retail space. (Observer photo by Tim Simard)

Williston’s homegrown Buttered Noodles children’s store recently underwent a massive growth spurt. Last month, Buttered Noodles, formerly known as KidSurplus, moved from Boyer Circle and reopened its doors in a mammoth warehouse space on Harvest Lane.

Owner and President Alan Levi said he’d been thinking for a long time about growing KidSurplus into a one-stop shop for baby and children’s gifts and accessories. The business’ 4,300 square-foot showroom, which sat adjacent to the company’s online sales headquarters, proved too small for what Levi had in mind. Moving to a 21,000 square-foot space on Harvest Lane allowed the business to switch gears and become the Champlain Valley’s premier children’s store, Levi said.

“We needed to expand,” Levi said. “We felt there was a niche in the market for what we do.”

Levi changed the company’s direction and believed it needed a name change as well. Levi went with Buttered Noodles, a name he had floated around his head for years. For him, it represents the fun, fickle and whimsical nature of children.

“Buttered noodles — that’s all my kids ate until they were 13 years of age,” Levi said.

The store has been open for approximately three weeks. Levi and his staff worked feverishly to launch Buttered Noodles the weekend after Thanksgiving, even though much of the store was in transition. Last Friday, local workers continued updating the warehouse space by installing giant wall fixtures for baby carriages, bicycle trailers and other large pieces of equipment.

Shoppers wandered the aisles, looking through racks of clothing and shelves full of toys. A few commented to Levi about the store’s layout; Burlington architect Donna Miller helped design the store, and artist Anthony Sini, also of Burlington, created the business’ artwork and new logo. And while parents shopped, children frolicked in the Club Noodle playroom, enjoying an assortment of building blocks.

Buttered Noodles has a larger variety of clothing brands and toy selections than KidSurplus, along with a multitude of other items for babies, toddlers and older children. Levi said much of the clothing and accessories sell for 40 percent to 60 percent off the normal retail prices, which was always a big draw for KidSurplus shoppers.

Buttered Noodles purchases its products from manufacturers looking to sell excess inventory or from children’s stores that are downsizing. For instance, a children’s book company might contact Levi to see if he’s interested in buying discounted copies of a book that’s about to go into a new printing. None of the items in the store have been used, Levi said.

“What people have to understand is that it’s all brand new, all high-quality,” Levi said.

Along with staple items carried over from KidSurplus, Buttered Noodles expanded the baby section, included mid-priced cribs and furniture and began adding an eco-friendly, organic clothing line.

In a town known for its big box stores, Levi said his large business will attract many customers from around the Champlain Valley. And while some giant stores are owned by companies outside of Vermont, Levi’s is homegrown. He’s worked in the children’s product business for more than 30 years and is the former owner of South Burlington’s Kids Town. Levi also lives in Williston.

“People are finding it refreshing to have an independent owner take something of this size and just go with it,” he said.

Levi said Buttered Noodles will have its grand opening celebration next month. He plans to hire 15 to 20 employees for part-time and full-time positions. A website with online shopping capabilities will debut this spring, he said.

Buttered Noodles is located at 64 Harvest Lane. For more information, call 764-1810.