When Claudia Chapulis opened Funky Monkey, her children’s resale boutique in Riverside in November, she soon had loyal customers for her $3 to $15 children’s clothes, toys and accessories.
“I have five child customers – girls – who come in almost every day. And they always walk out with something. They buy clothes, Vera Bradley change purses, trinkets. They come in with their wallets and take their money out. It’s quite funny.”
Chapulis formerly worked in the restaurant business and owned a bar, but has always been a resale shopper.
“Before it was trendy,” she said. “My mom used to buy stuff resale because she didn’t have money. It’s always been dear to my heart.”
Funky Monkey is the first tenant in a newly remodeled former garage at 39 E. Quincy. In her clean and well lit shop, Chapulis sells lightly used children’s clothing – mostly baby sizes currently because “that’s the easiest to find in good shape.” But the store is also about fun for the customers. Festively decorated with Christmas lights and a palm tree, Funky Monkey has a TV and Wii machine with toys and games for children in the back. Chapulis keeps a well stocked “snack basket” for younger customers.
In addition to recycled clothing, Funky Monkey sells handmade jewelry and art by Riverside mother and daughter Dawn and Tassa Sundstrom. “I met Dawn at a garage sale and I bought a bracelet from her, which I just loved,” said Chapulis. Sundstrom’s bracelets, earrings, necklaces and bookmarks are for sale, as well as a new line of less expensive children’s jewelry.
Riverside-Brookfield High School student Tassa Sundstrom creates colorful rubberized clay animal head décor pieces for children’s rooms. She also makes handmade fleece tie blankets with matching hand-sewn, shaped pillows. Custom knit hats by Megan Eisenberg are also for sale, with detachable flower clips.
“There are so many talented local women,” Chapulis said.
Funky Monkey sells vintage children’s décor, lunch boxes, specialty stationery, scrapbook kits, wall decals, tooth fairy pillows and lots of fun toys in “monkey buckets” that go for $.50 to $2.
“It grows every day. I love it. It’s my girly retreat,” said Chapulis, the mother of three boys. “The whole building is awesome and has this amazing positive energy.”
The newly remodeled building is co-owned by architect Charlie Pipal, his wife Sue and another couple. Exposed brick is accented by walls painted different shades of green. The structure is subdivided into separate commercial units with installed bathrooms and hallways.
“We always admired this building,” said Sue Pipal, who works for Blueprint Tours, which will soon be moving in. “We bought it because it was probably in jeopardy. Our hope is that we will find tenants as interested in the community as we are, and that will build the esprit de corps of Riverside. It’s a fantastic location and a historic building.”