Children who have wished they could step into their TV screens over the years to join their heroes on Sesame Street may have their chance.
The famous cast of characters, including Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, is about to appear in a retail store at South Coast Plaza.
The Sesame Street General Store is scheduled to open Sept. 1 near the carousel, across from FAO Schwarz and the Disney Store. Carrying a mix of children's wear, toys, books and other Sesame Street goods, the outlet is the first among several due to open in Southern California this year.
"We're very excited because this will be our flagship store," said Jill Gercovich, director of stores for Sesame Street Retail Stores in Hayward. Others are planned to open this year in malls in Glendale, Palo Alto and San Francisco.
Youngsters will recognize their favorite Sesame Street sets. The 3,500-square-foot retail outlet will include Mr. Hooper's General Store and the apartment at 123 Sesame Street where characters Bert and Ernie live. Young browsers can draw on the "art wall," see Big Bird's Learning and Listening Library, play in the "garage/clubhouse" or perform on the stage of the Sesame Street theater.
About 40% of the merchandise mix will be devoted to the store's exclusive line of Sesame Street licensed children's clothing. Gercovich said that while J.C. Penney has marketed Sesame Street clothes for years, the new store will have its own exclusive line with bold graphics, European-type cuts and "fashion flare."
The remainder of the store will be devoted to items like books, lamps, sheets and towels. All will be related to the 21-year-old television show through licensing with Children's Television Workshop in New York, which produces the program.
South Coast Plaza General Manager Jim Henwood said the store is "an exciting concept."