BY LEE ANN SANDWEISS
From organic cotton diapers to children’s exercise equipment, Bloomington independent retailers stock all the essential and sundry items needed to outfit the younger set—from tots to tweens.
ETC for the Home, 3333 S. Walnut, has a showroom devoted to babies and children that contains a wide array of cribs, dressers, hutches, built-to-grow beds, and changing stations from Young America furniture, as well as Peg Perego and Recaro car seats, and American-made UPPAbaby strollers. ETC also carries organic, nontoxic mattresses from Naturepedic, bedding, children’s exercise equipment, toys, and stuffed animals.
“We know parents look for safety and the latest technology in the products they choose for their family, so these are the only brands we stock,” says Kelly King, ETC general manager.
Rebecca Carter has owned some incarnation of her shop, Rebecca & Me, for 32 years and will soon celebrate one year at her newest location at 333 S. Lincoln St. The salmon-pink and green bungalow the store now calls home has a “baby zone” with baby and toddler clothing made by local craftspersons such as knitter Maria Brown and quilter Pat Surra and boutique clothing lines such as Zutano.
“We also carry a line of award-winning eeBoo toys and gifts, including storybooks and growth charts, and classic and the newest Gund soft toys,” Carter says.
O’Child Children’s Boutique, 101 W. Kirkwood on the downtown Square, carries clothing for newborns to children sizes 12-14. The store specializes in high-quality lines such as Tea Collection, made of cotton with globally inspired designs; cachcach (French for “hide and seek,” says the maker’s website) clothing for girls and boys, sizes newborn to 10; and Annie’s Clothesline, a vintage-inspired line for girls, designed by Bloomington mother-daughter team Dede Melick and Annie Eakin.
“I’ve noticed a trend toward vintage-look garments and away from super-dressy items,” says Nancy Bradley, O’Child’s owner. “People also want durable cotton clothing that wears like iron and can be passed on.” Bradley says the store’s line of IU clothing for children is flying off the shelves.
O’Child also carries hard-to-find children’s footwear, such as See Kai Run footwear and U.K.-made Little Joules wellies boots.
Bella Bella Arts is nationally known for its custom-designed art furniture and accent pieces, but it also has a line for youngsters, Baby Bella. By special order, artist Lara Moore also creates shiny, happy, child-size tables and stools, plus wall plaques—alphabet and children’s names are most popular. Her custom children’s pieces feature the same thick, glossy resin finish that makes her other creations so durable. For more information about Baby Bella custom orders, call 323-1637.
The Green Nursery (TGN) opened in 2007 and had two locations on Kirkwood Avenue before moving last year to its current home at 509 E. Hillside Dr. Although owners Scott and Abby Noroozi sell organic cotton clothing for babies, environmentally friendly educational toys, and new products such as colorful, nontoxic Chewbeads, a Wilma Flintstone-like necklace for Mom that baby can safely tug and chew on, they say that 80 percent of their business is cloth diaper sales.
“The popularity of cloth diapers has grown even through the recession,” says Scott. “Part of the reason is environmental awareness, but it’s also a sound economic choice. A parent using disposable diapers will spend about $2,000 over a two-year period. Investing in a starter stash of cotton diapers is about $400 and will last from infancy through potty-training.”
TGN also offers cloth-diapering workshops and has partnered with musician Kid Kazooey to offer preschool music classes at the store.