Walk into one of the seven buybuyBABY stores in the mid-Atlantic region, and you could be forgiven for a sense of déjà vu: The floor-to-ceiling shelves crammed with merchandise, the racetrack layout, the variety of everything from Winnie-the-Pooh lamps to size 2T jackets, and those checkout lines that actually move. If it all reminds you of Bed Bath & Beyond, there's good reason. This baby-goods store is the brainchild of Jeffrey and Richard Feinstein, sons of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY ) co-founder Leonard Feinstein.
Both worked at the mother ship until 1995, when Richard -- then a new dad -- realized there wasn't a Bed Bath & Beyond-type store for new parents. So he and his brother started one. "The way we grew up, retail is in the blood," says Jeffrey, who remembers preparing daily deposit slips and cleaning store bathrooms as a kid.
The apple fell close to the tree for the Eisenbergs, too. Warren's son Ron worked at Bed Bath for 15 years before striking out to start an emporium for foodies, Chef Central. Its two suburban New York stores offer gourmet food, upscale kitchenware, and live cooking presentations. "It has been an unbelievable school," says Ron, who also worked at Bed Bath while growing up.
So why didn't the kids stay in the family business? Eisenberg and Feinstein decided early on that to keep the peace, none of their children would ever run the chain. "I don't want to say this kid is smarter than this kid, my kid's smarter than your kid," says Eisenberg. "Then you don't have a family. We wanted a family, and we wanted a business." Feinstein nods in agreement: "There's no such thing as constructive criticism of someone else's child."
By Nanette Byrnes