By Christalangel M. Aguon
SmallFry Children’s Boutique is a specialty infant, toddler and maternity store founded, owned and operated by Christina M. Taitano. The business is one of three that Taitano has conceptualized, the other two being Strictly Tees, a wholesale T-shirt printing company that she co-owns with her brother, Derrick M. Quinata, president and general manager of Guam Autospot, and StickerBirds Inc., a graphics and signage business that she launched in May.
How long has SmallFry been in business?
We’ve been around for about three years, but the brand wasn’t official until later. SmallFry had a big opening back in July 2012. There was a party on the side of the building complete with a deejay, and we even brought in this red Jeep from off island. We had fries in red fry containers with the sticker logo of SmallFry on it. It was a great time.
Have you always been in Hagåtña?
No. We’ve been in several places. We used to have three different shops, including downstairs from here, but we had to move it. All the construction was a bit too much for our customers, so we moved to Acanta Mall for a bit. After a year, we came back home here to Hagåtña. I had renovated my first shop, so I did the same here. I wanted it all together and to make it home.
Where did the store idea come from?
I was pregnant, [and I was] researching and looking around and saw that there was a serious lack of children’s stores on island. I wanted to find a way to fill that need. I took the idea of opening a children’s boutique, and I just ran with it. I would be up at 2 a.m. calling up the vendors trying to get in the door. That was the biggest thing — to get the business. I wanted to bring quality, high-end products here. I worked diligently to find the most innovative products. I wanted to push it to the right people. I love meeting new and unique people, other moms and dads, and making a connection with them.
I started with the birthing center, Sagua Mañagu, with new mommy bento gift boxes. There were goodies, like onesies, with our logo on it. No one had done this yet. I wanted to bring baby fairs to Guam, connect with other stores. I do it all myself; it’s my thing, my baby.
What are your products, and are you looking to expand?
I sell mainly car seats, strollers, mobile swings and diaper bags from brands such as Maxi-Cosi, Quinny and mamaRoo. Because they are high-end, the prices are higher, ranging from $199 to the most having been $800.
I am thinking of expanding my boutique and doing an online catalog, like I had before. I used to have rain boots, jackets, apparel, lotions, creams and Bumboo [brand of products]. I even had a SmallFry line that was more Guam-related. There were backpacks, books, lunch pails … whatever you could think of, I had it. But that was also before in our old store.
How did you decide on those products?
I would wake up in the middle of the night to reach out to these vendors to get their attention. I finally got in the door. I had over 50 places, so I created a budget, focused on 20 vendors, and I handpicked the cool products, the ones I want for my kids, so I had to follow with my vision. I sent in my order and followed the shipments myself, took inventory, set up the floor. I’m very happy with it, and it was all me.
How is it running three separate businesses?
I think all of it together — it’s been great. They have all benefited from each other. Customers come in for the other businesses, and they see SmallFry, so they tell their friends. It’s opened so many doors for me. I do believe I have a definite connection with the community.
What feedback have you received from the community?
The community gives me overwhelming support. The customers seem happy and I haven’t had any negative feedback. I wanted a certain kind of clientele, not to have everyone in here. I feel I opened the door for other girls to open their own businesses. It’s a really good feeling. Right now, I’m even having an online giveaway on Facebook and Instagram. There are over 200 followers.
Do you have any future plans for SmallFry?
Right now, I don’t want to overextend SmallFry. I want to be able to keep the control. I want to move back to my storefront, but until then, I want to focus on now. Maybe one day, I will expand again. I have so many ideas but not enough time. But I do plan on helping out in any way that I can. I get solicited, and I have done many functions and giveaways for the community. If I can, I want to keep doing that.