Mall Jr.

The Star Tribune offers a glimpse at what it calls a mall for the small, a shopping center with tenants strictly geared for babies and kids.

That negative shopping experience inspired the Gonsiors, now 42, to create Uber Baby -- a children's clothing, toy and maternity store in south Minneapolis designed for parents who want their children to look cute, but edgy. Everything about the store, from the kid-friendly play area to the purple-and-orange paint, was designed with Tony in mind.

The store has done well enough in its first three years that they are making Uber Baby the center of a $2.1 million mini shopping mall across from Bachman's flagship flower store on Lyndale Avenue S.

They'll lease space to as many as 13 kids-oriented retailers -- including a kids' craft store, hair salon and photo studio -- set in an outdoor marketplace with a pond and play area. They also are opening a second store in the Galleria mall in Edina, and are preparing to franchise the concept.

The Gonsiors hope the yet-to-be-named kids center will appeal to parents who want to shop for their children in one location without dragging them through expansive shopping malls or driving to and from strip centers. "For this market, this concept is unique," said Jim McComb, a Minneapolis retail consultant. "The Mall of America may have all that stuff, but you'd probably have to spend an hour finding it and kids don't have that kind of attention span."

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