FORTY FORT — It is a common story of small town girl goes to the big city for a higher education. But this time, the “girl” returns with a three-fold business venture, encompassing children and family enrichment classes, a boutique, and café, all housed in a building named Elly’s House in Forty Fort.
Opening three businesses is not an easy feat. Lillian Feibus, South Wilkes-Barre, opened the Academy for Early Learning and the Lavender Poulette, a boutique specializing in European designs by American designers, two and a half months ago. The café, yet to be named, is in the works and she hopes to be open it soon.
Children in the front yard painting with balloons or toddlers traipsing through plastic swimming pools filled with Easter basket grass or cooked noodles may give the impression a new day care opened in Forty Fort. But Elly’s House is not a day care.
A large white banner with purple lettering stretched across the front door of the big white house on Wyoming Avenue debunks this thought immediately. It reads, “I bet you think we are a daycare… We are not! Still confused? Don’t be shy. Stop in for a tour.”
Feibus wants to give local families an affordable and creative alternative to arcades by providing fun extracurricular and educational classes.
“I want Elly’s House to be a place were people can come,” Feibus said. “I want to take it back to the old days.”
In other words, before children plugged-in for entertainment.
Nurturing creativity, learning
Offering fuel for the imagination through art classes, academic classes, sewing and even ballet classes, Feibus is working to foster her unique business model while nurturing the natural creative spirit of children and families.
“I do not see myself as a teacher but as a facilitator,” she said.
Her teaching experience has a foundation with a degree in education from Chatham University, Pittsburgh. Feibus’ teaching experience includes the Carriage House Children’s Center, Pittsburgh; the Pre-School of America, Chinatown, New York City, and Avenues: The World School, New York City.
Applying her knowledge and desire to encourage children to explore their environment through sensory experience, she offers a variety of classes for children ages ranging from 3 to 12 years old.
“My classes are taught by local experts,” she said. “Art classes are taught by an artist. Ballet is taught by a local ballerina.”
Noting the academic programs, Feibus said she offers math, physics and science classes, as well.
Older children, 12 years and older, can come to for PSAT, SAT preparation, private tutoring and homework help. Tutoring sessions can be scheduled after-hours.
“I have some boys who are working on their college entrance essays,” she said.
She even has classes for parents such as a Mommy and Me, Grown-up and Me Gardening and parenting classes.
Smaller scale classes such as “My Kid Does That,” a parenting forum, or STEM classes (science, technology, engineering and math) are $30 for six weeks. Larger scale classes as “What’s That Sound: Emerging Literacy” or Sewing are $150 for a six-week session.
“I am building an environment for forward thinking,” Feibus said.
There is room to expand. She has plans to offer Mandarin Chinese language classes, as well as zumba and yoga in the near future.
Opening the lavender door, visitors will find themselves entering the Lavender Poulette, a boutique reminiscent to the little clothing shops that used to grace the streets in downtown Wilkes-Barre, featuring quality clothing not found in any other store in the area.
“Nothing is commercially made here,” she said.
Other merchandise, including all natural wooden literary teething rings and wooden color and number learning blocks, are made by Treehouse Illustrator of Berwick. These are just some of the unique items for sale.
“I grew up in Wilkes-Barre and remembered going to the Kiddie Shop for clothes,” Feibus said. “I want bring back the idea of shopping locally.”
Entering a neighboring room with tables and chairs, Feibus said this will be the café. The café will offer a vegetarian menu along with the traditional fare of coffees, teas and pastries. She intends to have an outdoor sitting area for café guests, as well.
Three back rooms consist of a writing/library room with colorful patterned pillows on the floor and antique looking chairs and tables, a creative room used for painting, sewing and other pursuits, and the gym, with a full-length mirror on one wall and a chandelier hanging from the ceiling, which captures the imagination of boys and girls alike.
“The boys like to see if they can get a ball stuck in it and the girls like to pretend they are princesses,” she said.
Outside, the garden and expansive front yard provide a space to be explored and enjoyed by both parents and children. Feibus plans to have tables for parents to sit while children are encouraged to explore.
With so much to offer, Feibus said the children began to refer to the building as simply, Elly’s House. Feibus explained that in high school, she assumed the nickname, Elly. The children coming for classes found it easier to say they were going to Elly’s House, than the Academy for Early Learning.
“I will have a ceremony to officially name the building Elly’s House,” she said.
But the three separate names for the businesses inside will remain the legal business names, Feibus said.
With so much to offer the community, families, and children, Feibus wants families and grandparents, to open the lavender door and see what opportunities exist within.
“I want people to come in and see,” Feibus said.