August 26, 2008

IKEA: a front for childcare

Stopped by IKEA yesterday in search of...what was I looking for? Oh, a couple of odds and ends like wooden hangers, a stylish dish drying rack (didn't find one) and nursery knick knacks (decided against them). Nothing urgent, but my almost 4 year old was with me, and he's finally tall enough to play in the IKEA childcare room where they have a ball pit he loves to jump in. He plays, I run errands, everyone is happy. Except, I wasn't the only parent with this idea. The wait for the childcare center was 40 minutes when we arrived around 11:30 a.m. on a Monday. And people were actually standing there, just waiting, because they don't take names. Seriously? Is it worth it? And are all these parents really in such need of new furnishings? I'm betting they just want the child-free hour, even if it means nothing more than browsing a mobbed furniture showroom.

July 11, 2008

Kid clothes bargains

Got a great bargain hunting tip from Mary who works at the Savers at 2124 E. Lake St. She says every Monday, you'll find a ton of kids clothes priced at 99 cents, including many items never worn, with original tags still in tact. "Our area is not shopped for kids clothes as the neighborhood is older," she says. "Mondays get busy because a lot of consignment store owners are shopping but there is more than enough for everyone!" Great to know. And in case you're thinking shopping Savers is beneath you, get this: Mary used to work for Nordstrom and says she'll be happy to walk around the counter to hand you your purchase - even if it did cost just 99 cents.

July 09, 2008

Toys are back in town

I remember playing in the toy aisles at Dayton's many, many, ok, many, years ago - back when department stores really had all sorts of different...departments. Well, long after surrendering to Toys 'r Us and Target, Macy's is bringing back the toys through an exclusive partnership with FAO Schwarz. Thursday, July 10 marks the opening of a 2,000 square foot FAO Schwarz department on the 4th floor of the Minneapolis store. Macy's says it will be filled with FAO’s private label collection along with specialty toys, stuffed animals and other "high-quality products." By fall, FAO Schwarz toys will be available at the Burnsville, Mall of America, Maplewood, Rosedale, Ridgedale and Southdale Macy's stores. I'm reserving judgement until I see the selection and prices.

July 08, 2008

Here come the American Girls!

You can't walk up Michigan Avenue in Chicago without seeing little girls all dolled up and toting their American Girl shopping bags. I'm not a collector, but still, I've visited the store - more like a museum - just to witness the phenomenon. In case you missed it in the Pioneer Press, that same shopping experience is coming to the Mall of America in November. It's a perfect fit for the mall, and puts the Twin Cities in great company, since American Girl is extremely selective, with locations only in New York, L.A., Dallas, Atlanta and Boston. And with gas prices what they are, the timing couldn't be better. What with all the money you'll save by not having to drive to Chicago, you'll be able to buy that doll a dress and throw her a tea party!

May 26, 2008

Between toddler and teen

Customers want more from Siji Kids and the store is starting to deliver. Larger sizes, up to 16, are already arriving for both girls and boys. As more baby boutiques have sprung up around town, there continues to be a dearth of options for bigger kids. And even if they do burn holes in their pants and grow like weeds, occasionally, you want to shop somewhere other than Old Navy.

April 22, 2008

Clever baby gift

Sb1bspdetail It's tough to come up with a clever baby gift, especially when No. 2 is the same gender as No. 1. I always think it's nice to send something personalized for the younger child, who is destined to a childhood of hand-me-downs. I've given (and received) personalized children's books from the Minneapolis-based and monogrammed jean jackets from (last I checked, they were discontinued - sorry). But I recently received one of the coolest personalized baby gifts I've seen: a set of three baby bodysuits decorated to look like vintage soap box labels, branded with my son's name. They'd be cool looking even without his name, but the personalization makes it an extra thoughtful gift - and one that you can bet I'll be passing on to other friends. You'll find these onesies, and other vintage style designs, at Smart move by the small Berkeley-based company: they included with the gift a handwritten congratulations card, along with a coupon for $5 off a purchase.

Just like Suri

T_159_19My little guy is not about to go cold. Blankets are definitely a favorite baby gift. They're all cozy and appreciated, but one that really stands out comes from Little Giraffe (sold at Bananas in Wayzata). It just might be the softest, silkiest material I've ever felt. Apparently, we're in good company. I just read in People magazine that Ms. Suri Cruise is a fan of Little Giraffe.
We're keeping the blanket anyway.

Stroller solution

Ultralight_lifestyle_eva After prolonged deliberation (about nine months), I concluded there is no one stroller to fill absolutely every need. It's a conspiracy to ensure that every parent ends up with two, three, maybe more four wheel contraptions taking up space in the garage. For me, suddenly the mother of a newborn and a 3-year-old who still appreciates the occasional lift, it came down to a double stroller that would work well for walks around the lakes, like the Phil and Teds, or one that would be lighter weight and more compact for the malls. I went with the malls. But the three of us have already taken our new Joovy Ultralight Caboose on a spin to the park and so far, I must say it has exceeded expectations. It's not much bigger than a single stroller, maneuvers well and folds easily. My toddler can sit or stand, and seems to enjoy both. He can buckle himself in, but has yet to master unbuckling - which is perfect. The infant seat fits right on the front. Our only complaint thus far: with the infant seat in place, the bigger kid gets a bit squished. Guess he better get used to that.

March 30, 2008

New destination for moms - er, kids

I was a little disappointed by the merchandising of Kiddywampus at its new location in St. Louis Park. Despite the larger, higher-profile space, it seemed like they actually had less to sell. Mainly, there was more typical arts and crafts supplies than the high-design play and home objects that used to be the focus. But I'll give them a chance to settle in, and the owner did assure me that not all shipments made it in time for the opening, a common problem in retail.
Besides, any deficiencies on the retail front, Kiddywampus more than makes up for with its improved focus on activity. The art studio has expanded to a cool, lofted space with windows. In addition to classes, there are open studio times so you can drop in without a reservation when your little Picasso is feeling inspired, or you're about to lose your mind. Plus, they've added a play room that can be reserved for groups or play dates with friends - the kids get to explore new toys on neutral turf, and best of all, you don't have to clean up. Get all the details at

March 25, 2008

Opening Friday...

For those who like to stay on top of the shopping news, Uber Baby - formerly located at 60th and Lyndale - opens at the Galleria this Friday, March 28. It will share a space with the newly remodeled Expecting Uber Baby. (The owners had been planning separate stores across the corridor from each other, but changed their minds when customers said they'd prefer to shop for maternity clothes, diaper bags, dad gear and baby goods in one spot). The new Uber Baby will have a tighter focus on gifts, decor and children's shoes - nearly two dozen hip lines. If only we could stop their little feet from growing so fast!

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