Everybody’s pivoting these days, from your little ballerina to your downstairs neighbor’s dot-com. Now the folks at the Queens business Raising Astoria are joining the club. Previously marketed as a baby and maternity boutique, the family-friendly neighborhood fixture has rebranded itself as the Raising Astoria Community Center, just in time for its third birthday. We’ve the scoop on what’s new (and what’s no longer) at the 23rd Avenue parenting resource.


photo: The March 7 grand re-opening party of Raising Astoria via Raising Astoria

What’s the story? 

Since 2012, Raising Astoria co-owners Laurie Nicholson and Kimberly Montini have provided local parents a mix of classes, open play time, new toys and books and gently used clothes on consignment. The retail space (at the front of the shop) did a brisk business on weekends, with people stopping in for gifts or an emergency toy, but during the weekday? Not so much. Demand for parenting resources, classes, play times and more however, never waned; the pair ultimately realized the space filled with toys, clothes, and books for sale, would serve the community much better as more room to play, learn, and grow.


photo: Raising Astoria via Raising Astoria


What’s Gone

As of March 7, Raising Astoria no longer sells toys, books, and new or used clothes. In fact, the entire retail space has been converted to an open studio — now decorated with a groovy purple and yellow mural of the NYC skyline and featuring Queens icon the Triborough Bridge.


photo: Raising Astoria’s new, expanded space via Raising Astoria


What’s the Same

Raising Astoria will continue to offer all the popular programs and services area residents have come to enjoy, including open play times (at a reasonable $10 per family); expectant and new parent workshops and classes; singalongs and special events, and an affordable space rental for hosting birthday parties. The business’ back room, the kid-friendly play space, remains.


photo: Raising Astoria’s play space via Raising Astoria


What’s New

A lot! Now with an additional 550 square feet of open space, Raising Astoria is significantly expanding its offerings of classes and activities, with the number of options doubling. The newly-christened community center will host more drop-off classes, provide more drop-off childcare times, expand its popular Mommy & Me French program and offer a drop-off preschool alternative in the Montessori tradition.

New classes for kids will include a sports and music class, an intro to theater for four- to six-year olds, and science workshops for older children. The store’s reimagining means lots of new offerings for adults, too, such as classes (with childcare!) in mindful meditation and yoga/salsa fusion fitness. (Nicholson and Montini have in many cases, tapped the Astoria parenting community to find instructors, with many local professionals signing on to lead classes. In fact, a neighborhood parent who works as a set designer helped with the renovation of the space.)


photo: The grand re-opening party of Raising Astoria via Raising Astoria

How much?

Moms to four kids between them, the two women understand the importance of both flexibility and affordability to parents in the city. (See the $10/per family unlimited open play, for example.) With that in mind, classes work on a rolling basis, and most class packs are interchangeable; drop-ins are $22, while full classes are 10 for $180.)


You can check out the new Raising Astoria Community Center online at raisingastoria.com and its Facebook page for up-to-the-minute announcements.

Visit in person at:

Raising Astoria Community Center
26-11 23rd Ave.
Online: raisingastoria.com

Have you check out the new Raising Astoria? Tell us what you think in the comments!

—Mimi O’Connor