CRANBURY: Pied Piper closing shop on North Main Street

Cranbury kids boutique cites faltering economy

By Maria Prato-Gaines, Staff Writer
   CRANBURY — Another local shop will be leaving Cranbury’s Main Street when the children’s boutique, Pied Piper Kids, closes its doors Dec. 23.
   After five years of business, Teresa Cunningham, owner of Pied Piper, 60 N. Main St., said the economy is taking its toll, slowing traffic into the store. And, given her increased involvement in her son’s school, she decided it was a good time to call it quits, she said.
   ”Three years ago, I was doing fine,” Ms. Cunningham said, noting much of her business was coming from neighboring towns.
   Pied Piper is the third downtown business to close in the past year, following Hannah and Mason’s restaurant and Patina Homes.
   Looking in a new direction, Ms. Cunningham said she is considering selling the store’s merchandise through a Web site.
   ”One benefit is you reach a larger community,” she said.
   Ms. Cunningham said if she does decide to go in that direction, she assumes it would take at least five years to make a name for herself among the hordes of online businesses.
   As for the Internet business, one hurdle will be trying to communicate the high standards of customer service that walk-in customers could see onsite as opposed to surfers on a Web site, she said.
   ”Our business was built on customer service,” she said, adding free gift-wrap and the employee’s personal attention were just some of the amenities Pied Piper customers received. “When people would come in, they always tended to come back.”
   The store is offering a 30 percent discount on its merchandise although Ms. Cunningham has yet to decide whether that number will decline further.
   But whether Pied Piper will see an online sequel, Ms. Cunningham had one message to leave her patrons with.
   ”They’ve been great,” she said. “Thank you very much for your support.”