Forget snakes and snails. What little boys really want are cool tees, rugged jeans, and a clothing store designed like a playground. For them, Red 21 Boys-named after a familiar football audible-delivers on all counts.



WHO “Boys hate shopping,” says Todd Leadingham, 34. As a youngster, he observed plenty of bad behavior at his parents’ North Shore kids’ clothing store, Daydreams.
WHAT A clothing store with butter-soft (but durable) goods for boys sized 3 months to 18-20.
WHERE 1858 N. Damen Ave.; 773-252-9570,

Did your son fall inlove with the big, funky “hand” chairs ($299) found throughout the store? Like the Brio trains (from $12), magic kits (from $15), and Melissa & Doug puzzles ($10), he can take them home.



“Boys don’t want to be cute. They want to be cool,” says Leadingham, who eschews pastels and sweetness for primary colors and tough fabrics. The friendly, kid-proofed zone offers fun distractions like an elaborate Brio train set, regulation basketball hoops, and flat screen TVs tuned to Nickelodeon or ESPN.


The popularly styled two-in-one shirts pictured here ($26) are extra rough-and-tumble. For those times that only a collar will do, shoppers will find dress-up button-downs (from $24) embroidered with the store logo: a wart hog.

Photography: Red 21 Boys Matthew Gilson