“It’s a Little Crazy:” Staten Islander’s Dream Comes True as Etsy Shop Goes Brick and Mortar at Empire Outlets

STATEN ISLAND, NY – Looking for a Christmas decoration in July or a Halloween wreath in February? How about a unique Staten Island themed t-shirt, keepsake or card?

A new store owner recently turned his e-commerce business into a physical store in Empire Outlets, offering these – and hundreds of other unique gift, apparel, and home decor items – in a visual-only storefront. to a Broadway-trained designer. could pull together.

Vanity House Designs, owned by Kurt Alger, has become a reality thanks to Empire Outlets’ Pop Up & Grow program, which lends retail space to prospective store owners for varying periods of time to help struggling businesses.

The store opened on June 5.

As a professional designer of Broadway theatrical costumes and wigs, Algiers had thought of a physical storefront to showcase large screens, invite shoppers for immersive experiences, and flush out its product lines online.

He founded Vanity House Designs as an online business, a pivotal business during the pandemic, when Broadway was closed to the public.

“I started making wreaths, crafts, and floral items and selling them on Etsy,” he said. “It grew very quickly. I started to organize craft fairs and a lot of people kept asking me, “where is your store? “

He stumbled across the Staten Island Advance feature on the Pop Up & Grow program, which sparked an idea.

“I found it late at night,” he said. “The next morning, I immediately applied. And then it kind of came across as a very viable option, and I said ‘why not give it a try? “

“So here I am with a one year lease and I’m just trying to figure it out as I go.” It’s kinda crazy.

Vanity House Designs offers a variety of gifts and home decor items, sparked by Algiers’ passion for holiday decorating and all things floral and colorful.

The store owner, who is so enthusiastic about Christmas that he decorates seven Christmas trees each year at his St. George home, has Christmas – and all other holidays – represented in his store throughout the year. year.

“As the seasons change, all the holidays change and the current holidays move forward in the store,” he says. “This is the fun part for me.”

Bookkeeping and other routine tasks associated with running a business are less appealing, he muses, noting that he plans to hire a few employees to help him with these tasks in the fall.

In addition to the seasonal decor, shoppers will find aromatherapy options, tasty treats, humor cards, nostalgic and novelty items, as well as social media photo opportunities at the location.

Staten Island-specific gifts and cards are also a popular offering and a hit with customers visiting via the ferry from nearby Staten Island, Algiers said.

There’s also a sachet-making station and an entire wall dedicated to apothecary items, cosmetics, and candles.

Boutique owner Kurt Alger is bringing his interior design business online to a brick and mortar ship at Empire Outlets stores.

“There really is something for everyone,” says Algiers, noting that the store caters to customers of all ages.

Originally from Binghamton, NY, Algiers was drawn to Staten Island as a student of Wagner College. Twenty-five years later, he still lives on Staten Island and is very active in the Staten Island Community Theater, designing costumes for productions at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and the Sundog Theater, among others.

Kurt Algiers

Kurt Alger has been a Staten Islander for 25 years. Here he is pictured with Ashley Betton in 2005, dressed in 19th century Dickensian style at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center for that year’s Dickens Festival. (Irving Silverstein / Staten Island Advance)Staten Island advances

Today, he also shares his eye for design with clients, offering custom wreaths and floral designs, as well as holiday decorating tips.

Empire Outlets is located at 55 Richmond Terr., Right next to the St. George Ferry Terminal. The store is located on Level 2, next to Cotton On, and is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Companies interested in applying for the “Pop Up & Grow” program can complete an application at empireoutlets.nyc/pop-up/. Anyone with questions about the initiative can contact [email protected]

Vanity house designs

Boutique owner Kurt Alger is bringing his interior design business online to a brick and mortar ship at Empire Outlets stores.


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