UPPER BREAST SIDE TO CLOSE AFTER 18 YEARS, CITING ONLINE COMPETITION

The Upper Breast Side, a breastfeeding resource center and store on Amsterdam Avenue that has helped women throughout the city since 1999, will close its doors in the coming weeks, said owner Felina Rakowski-Gallagher.

“We just realized that the market has changed in how people obtain products,” she said on Thursday. “They’re buying them from Amazon.com. How does a small business like mine stay in business?”

“The market has changed and it’s so difficult because I love what I do.”

Rakowski-Gallagher started the business from her home, later moving to 135 West 70th street before landing her first storefront at 510 Amsterdam Avenue (between 84th and 85th street). The store’s motto is “you bring your breasts, we’ve got the rest!” And yes, it’s got one of the best names in the neighborhood.

The store sold and rented breast pumps, and sold bras, dresses and other products. Rakowski-Gallagher sets people up with breastfeeding consultants and other resources to help them after giving birth.

She said that fitting a nursing bra is a particular kind of art that requires “hands-on” attention. Customers who order online tell her that the bras often don’t fit.

NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 31 comments | permalink
    1. UWS momma says:

      I’m sorry to see them go and wish them luck!
      This store was such a huge help to me when I had my 3 babies in 4 years!

    2. NY10024 says:

      This is so sad. Upper Breast Side was a great resource. This is definitely an area where buying on line is not a substitute for personal help. Wishing the owner and employees all the best!

    3. The upper breast Side was the first of its kind as a resource for pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation for both parents and professionals in NYC, I’m very sad to see a local brick and mortar resource close.

    4. Danno says:

      This is actually the WORST store name, maybe in all of New York – unfunny, unclever, and actually kind of offensive

    5. FTWM says:

      I really wanted to, but never managed to be able to go to the store given its very limited open hours (M-F 11-5). Sad to see the businesses go but they should have been open on the weekends, too, to sustain competition with online.

      • Alison says:

        Right, because store owners have no lives and they should revolve around your personal hours.

        • EricaC says:

          Wow, Alison, that was pretty hostile. 11-5 is very, very narrow hours if you want to attract a lot of women who simply can’t come during those hours (I would have thought it would be most). I would never be able to go to a store with those hours either. To note that the hours are narrow is not exactly expecting store owners to have no lives – perhaps it means they need to take shifts. But whatever it means, it means there is a conflict between the hours they keep and the customers they want to attract, and the result is that people go online. Unfortunate, but true.

        • Danielle says:

          Those hours are very limited unless you’re a SAHM. Any woman who is a working mom is unable to shop at that store. Would have been nice, and a good idea for her to have either hours on a weekend OR late hours, even once a week, so working moms could utilize her store.

          • GG says:

            If someone is SOOO busy that they can’t go into a store from 11-5 during the week how the heck are they going to be a mother?? Do these women have staffs or something?

            I have never been one (a mother) but I do have three kids and I found it to be very time consuming.:)

            • EricaC says:

              GG, you are kidding, right? You do know that a lot of mothers go to jobs outside the home? And they get precious little flexibility about that, so the idea that they can take some time to go to the UWS to visit with a lactation consultant in the middle of the workday is pretty hard to see? It’s hard enough to get the time during the day to pump, much less go on a trip.

    6. Woody says:

      Finally, a store owner acknowledges that online shopping is killing brick-and-mortar stores instead of blaming landlords.

    7. Valerie Gerstein says:

      Felina and the Upper Breast Side will always hold a special place in the hearts of my children, myself AND my husband who all benefited from her knowledge and guidance at times when the new generation, my newborn, was challenging me and my Mom was diagnosed with cancer – so the older generation needed me as a new Mom too. I could never have maintained my milk supply and nourished my baby without Felina being an emotional and practical support for our family at the most complex times in our lives. Felina is more than a local shop owner. She is one of those neighborhood heros who has been selfless and a brilliant maven setting trends nation-wide and advocating for Moms to breastfeed our children. Let’s all send her off with our thanks and compliments. She deserves it.

    8. Amanda says:

      Oh no! This is so sad. You can order all the equipment you want online, but in-person advice isn’t easily replaced. The Upper Breast Side was a place where you could go for advice and it offered a support group where mothers could meet with an IBCLC. I wish Felina all the best and will miss her! The new moms of the UWS will sorely miss this resource.

    9. Jimbo says:

      Thanks for the mammories………..

    10. pearl says:

      Words can’t express enough thanks for the help and guidance given over the past years. We were so lucky to have benefited from the wonderful clothing and products sold here.

    11. Alison says:

      This was a wonderful store. The owner, Felina, is an expert in everything breast-feeding related – and you could never find that sort of knowledge or assistance or care when you buy from Amazon or any other online source. It’s a big loss to the Upper West Side. We’ll miss them. And, yes, “Upper Breast Side” is the coolest name EVER for a store.

      • Woody says:

        Customers have obviously found a sufficient enough level of knowledge or assistance or care online to favor shopping that way for whatever reason.

      • Nelson says:

        Maybe an online outlet would be wise to snap her up and bring her guidance & expertise as a resource to folks all over the world and not just in our neighborhood!

    12. Natnat says:

      Felina, so very sad to see this business go. It was a valuable resource for countless women, and I was fortunate enough to have had help when I was breastfeeding my two children. Thanks for all that you did!

    13. Sean says:

      It’s the end of an era.

    14. Sean says:

      There is a moms’ group that meets regularly in the Beacon Bar. They have cocktails and breast feed too.

    15. UWS mom says:

      Sad to see the store close. I am yet another UWS mom who went there for supplies and support (no pun intended). They were the only store in the area devoted to breastfeeding at the time (13 years ago). It’s a bummer that online shopping is forcing them to close.

    16. Christine E says:

      I have followed Upper Breast Side through 3 locations. Their product selection, knowledge and encouragement has been invaluable through the years. And Felina certainly gave more capable lactation advice than did my doctors. I hope she is able to resurrect or maintain her business somehow, from home (again) or maybe through a partnership with Town Shop?? Please stay in the neighborhood if you can!

    17. Julia says:

      Maybe Felina will make herself available as a consultant?

    18. arnie says:

      While I never needed her services, I have past by this store many times. There certainly seems to be a distinct lack of customer loyalty and an aversion to interact with people. The prices for what she sells is not that different from Amazon and if you need somthing immediately, it is right there. It is a very disturbing trend and people are going to regret how and with whom they transact their business with.

    19. UWSmom says:

      This is so sad. This place helped me during a very difficult time breastfeeding and adjusting to my new life as a mother of twins. Felina was so knowledgeable and really guided me. And she helped me navigate the nightmare of insurance companies that wouldn’t provide a breast pump. Amazon might be cheap but you get no service or personal guidance.

      Out neighborhood is slipping away…very sad.
      And they are open on select Saturdays, btw. I am a working mother and their hours worked just fine.