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While taking a gap year, Meaghan Crandall’s parents urged her to find a way to better spend her time. She had never stepped in the store before, but put in an application to work at Boom Babies in Wescott.
Being 19, she found her boss, Lorraine Koury, a strange mix of terrifying and incredibly cool. The two developed a strong relationship in their 10 years together running the “vintage clothing capital of Syracuse.”
“It’s like a sorority in here,” Crandall said. “That’s how we got a lot closer.”
Koury died on Sept. 15, 2022 after having worked alongside Crandall and her best friend MacKenzie Wilkinson for years. Over the last two years, the pair have taken over the well-known Syracuse business and are updating Boom Babies for the future, both for the store and its customers.
“I think we just felt like we owed it to us and to her to make it our own version,” Crandall said. “This store already had its life with her and I think she wanted to see the store go to the next generation.”
Boom Babies is currently under construction to renovate its interior. The owners want to bring the store in line with younger clientele, as many of the shoppers come looking for prom dresses. The pair is renovating the store with the Memphis design style in mind, including bright colors and playful design. Crandall compared the incoming interior to Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
“The main point that MacKenzie (Wilkinson) and I really want to bring to light here is that the majority of people who shop with us, whether it’s during prom season or now, they’re young,” Crandall said. “It’s a 15- to 16-year-old girl, there’s only like a certain age that that would appeal to.”
Courtesy of Boom Babies
Tori Recuparo has been working at Boom Babies for almost two years, starting around when Koury stepped back and Crandall and Wilkinson took over the store.
“Over the summer when Lorraine got sick and wasn’t around so much, (Crandall) and MacKenzie started to do their own thing with the store, with the blessing of Lorraine.” Recupuro said. “They just fell into their spots naturally because she’d left them the store.”
Boom Babies is popular in the Syracuse area for unique prom dresses no one else has. Brennan Jolly, a Syracuse local and sophomore studying biology and psychology at Syracuse University, got her prom dress at the store in 2022.
“(Koury) came back with the most beautiful, perfect dress I had ever seen in my entire life, and it had been sitting back there since 2017. No one else had my dress, it was awesome,” Jolly said.
Jolly had been going to the store since she was a kid with her mother. She said she would go to Alto Cinco, a Mexican restaurant across the street, and then her mother would go into Boom Babies to shop, getting her daughter items from the store.
Recuparo also got her prom dress at Boom Babies. She tells a recurring story that the dress she got was unlike anything she had seen before. Recuparo had searched the store’s aisles for three hours and felt as if she couldn’t find the right dress. With a quick “hold on,” Koury ran to the back and pulled out a black mermaid dress. The search was over.
Koury had no children and viewed the store as her “baby,” Crandall said. The previous owner even helped employees with affordable housing in the area, providing them with lower rents in her own properties.
Crandall, wanting to walk in her footsteps, has started to do the same.
Nearly every employee at the store said working there is like working with family. From housing to weddings to just spending time together, Boom Babies has created a close community where everyone is welcomed.
“We want the experience of coming into the store to match aesthetically the same way that we want you to feel,” Crandall said. “We want people to feel really upbeat and happy and we don’t want people to be stressed out and overwhelmed when they come in.”
Published on August 31, 2023 at 12:39 am