WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Kenny Friedman, 54, and fellow staff at Educational Warehouse found themselves out of jobs when the Westchester Pavilion store lost its lease last March. However, the loyalty of Friedman’s White Plains customers stuck with him when he scanned the local landscape for a vacant storefront.
“I decided to open my own store,” said Friedman, a Fort Lee, N.J. resident. He said he asked two school officials if they would continue doing business with him if he opened up a store in Port Chester. “They said, ‘If you opened up a store it would be wonderful.’ And I kept that in mind,” he added.
Friedman settled on 180 E. Post Road after noting his “following in White Plains” and “the void” left by the only educational supply store’s closing. He brought on three former coworkers from the Educational Warehouse for his first entrepreneurial endeavor. Although his store, Straight A’s, opened just after back-to-school season, his team said it hopes to hit the holiday season hard with Tupperware party-inspired school supply expos.
“We want to be a neighborhood store and support all the local schools and PTAs,” said Friedman. “We’ll bring samples for the schools to have. We don’t have a flat teacher’s discount, but we’re going to have a rewards program and send discounts to our email subscribers.”
Friedman, who is licensed as a teacher and has worked as a substitute teacher before going into business, spent six years at an educational toy chain and then learned the “teacher side of things” at Educational Warehouse.
Finding retail space that directly borders a parking lot proved difficult, so Friedman said he settled on the E. Post Road shop because it was near a municipal parking lot and he felt optimistic about the city’s ongoing negotiations with the Esplanade to open the closed Waller Avenue and Lyon Place garage.
“From now through December we’re offering a promotion where if you bring in your parking ticket we’ll take it off of a purchase of $15 or more,” said Friedman. “I’ve hired a high school student to take packages out to cars and may do that during the holiday seasons. I’m happy to do deliveries to schools or daycare facilities, whatever it takes.”
Straight A’s has begun hosting its weekly kids craft sessions from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, though the store won’t celebrate its official opening until Dec. 3.