Moving down the street
Iconic children’s store makes a short move in Homewood
by Matthew Allen, publisher
photo courtesy of Laura Player
More than six decades ago, Sikes Children’s Shoes opened its door on Valentine’s Day in the quaint Birmingham suburb of Homewood. Though back then, the store went by another name: Sikes & Peters’ Shoes. They sold footwear for men, women, and children.
When the business fell under the sole direction of Mr. Sikes a few years later, he began selling children’s shoes exclusively, which is a trend the store has continued. Parents brought their children to have their feet sized and fitted and walked out with a brand-new pair of shoes.
He also made another major business decision all of those years ago, partnering with Jack n’ Jill Shop, which offered children’s clothing and baby gift items. Now, families had a one-stop shop where they could find everything to dress their little ones in adorable, stylish outfits from head to toe.
The store, which would become one of Birmingham’s retail icons, even had four locations in all at one point — Homewood, Hoover, Vestavia Hills, and Roebuck, although today the Homewood location is the one that remains.
Sikes Children’s Shoes and its sister store, Jack n’ Jill, recently moved locations for the first time since its inception, opening it in May.
“We had a 20-year lease that was expiring at the end of 2020,” says Laura Player, owner of Sikes and Jack n’ Jill. “As 18th Street has become more of a shopping destination, it’s become tougher for our customers to find parking and get into the store. The time was right to take advantage of the opportunity to move to a brand-new building.”
Player started working at Sikes as a high schooler, obtaining the job through the DECA program at Homewood High School. While she worked on her degree at UAB, she continued to work at the store.
Then-owner Frank Youngs promoted her to be manager of their Hoover location after she graduated from college. When he decided to retire in 2014, Player bought the two stores from him.
That new building is located at 2719 19th Place South in downtown Homewood. While it was under construction they opened a pop-up location at 2707 18th Place South.
“We have the blessing of a loyal customer base, so they’ve rolled with us while waiting for construction to wrap up,” she says.
The new store has a combined showroom for both shoes and children’s clothing, with a central checkout area for both stores. Player thinks customers will like the open floor plan and ease of shopping and checking out.
On the clothing side, they have items like children’s swimsuits, dresses, T-shirts, bubbles, dress shirts and shorts, rompers, and much more. Whether a child needs an outfit to take pictures in or simply play outside, the store has something for every occasion and style.
They have baby’s, boy’s, and girl’s sizes in shoes and include Keds, sandals, sneakers, Mary Janes, Velcro, slip-ons, boots, and more. While they are more than happy to measure children’s shoes in the store — making the shopping trip even more special — they also have a measurement chart on their website parents can print to see what size shoe their child should be wearing.
Past owner Frank Youngs even served as a shoe fitter in the shop for more than 50 years, telling riddles or spinning his yo-yo for his young customers — something many now-parents can share when they bring in their little ones to shop.
Families will be able to find everything their children need for school, play, and everything in between. The shopping experience is also welcoming and comfortable for families, taking away the stress of bringing little ones to the store.
Operating small, locally owned businesses during the pandemic of 2020 posed significant challenges for all owners, and it was no different for Sikes and Jack n’ Jill.
“We had to adapt to challenges none of us had ever faced,” Player says. “But, again, our fantastic customer base kept us going, and I’m so excited about this new chapter of our 66-year-old business.”
Follow Sikes Children’s Store and Jack n’ Jill Shop on Facebook and Instagram. For more information or to purchase items from either shop online, visit Sikesshoes.com.