About three months before I found out I was pregnant with C, I went on a Lenten Retreat with a very dear friend. During the drive home, we were talking about what I would want to differently if I had another child. I guess my heart never gave up hope.
I talked about the fact that I would not buy as many toys as A and E had had. I wanted to have fewer toys and encourage free play. I would want to cloth diaper and really take the time to embrace the process because I felt like we gave up with E. These were all reasonable.
When I found out she was coming, I started investigating cloth diapers and that led me to a small shop in our hometown. I have always liked the idea of community based shopping, as in not running to the big box store, but I hadn’t really embraced shopping small until this journey with C. That tiny little store, run by moms became a huge support and place for learning while I was pregnant. I learned how to make cloth diapering easy, more about natural products and how to use my ring slings. They were incredible!
From there, we began to shop small with our clothing choices.Thanks to an old friend with a baby girl about a year older than C, I learned about the small shop community centered around Facebook and Instagram. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus mostly on handmade shops. These are typically moms and grandmas who have a love of creating and decided to turn that love into a business. They design the outfits they sell, some send them out to be sewn and others sew them themselves. It is pretty incredible that as a busy mom, I don’t have to make C’s outfits by hand in order to have her wear handmade items. So I wanted to share a few things I learned when I started “shopping small”.
Small Shops Create Your Wildest Dreams
- Over and over I have been blown away by the ability to personalize the items that my kids are wearing. This isn’t me being “extra” so much as it is me being excited that I can find a shirt with “C” on it or that is very specific to my family. For instance, C’s birthday outfit was one of seven made by a shop “Rylee and Roscoe“. We wanted a Rainbow Heart theme, because she was our Rainbow Baby. Her entire outfit that day (and most days if I’m being honest) is from one shop or another. I can’t imagine a more perfect birthday outfit for her. Another example would be this awesome t-shirt I bought last week for her. One final one would be the religious shirts I can grab from Between Coffee and Wine! I love that my kids can wear fun and faith filled shirt!
The Price is Rarely the Price
- Small shops use Brand Reps and VIP groups and offer coupons through these avenues. If you like a shop on Etsy you can often find a code for free shipping or 10 to 20 percent off often via Facebook or Instagram. If you are a good photographer or social media savvy, you can often get an even deeper discount through becoming a brand rep for the brands you fall in love with. (We’ve repped or rep for several amazing brands.) Then, many items maintain resell value on the BST boards, which often brings these prices down to Walmart levels.
You Have to Plan Ahead
- Shopping small is not for the last minute shopper, unless you are lucky enough to live near a boutique. Even items that are RTS (read to ship) will take several days to go through the Postal System. My favorite shoe shop for C is about as fast as they come, but I still need a week lead time. (By the way, these shoes are amazing and the grip sole is perfect for early walkers while still being a soft sole.)
You get invested.
- This doesn’t just apply to small shops near me. This applies to all of the shops I have grown to love. I want to see these owners succeed. I want to see my friend’s kids wearing their items or playing with toys they bought from them. A lot of small shops do an amazing job packaging their products, so when you open your mail, it’s like a tiny gift. Sure, you know what you are getting, except you might have a little note with an extra coupon code or a piece of candy. Unlike the cashier at (insert box store here) this shop owner is genuinely appreciative of your choice in shopping with them and it shows. I’m never taken for granted or ignored by my small shop “Ride or Dies” and I want them to be wildly successful.
You get some duds.
- Yes, there are some shops that just don’t create a product worth the money. Getting recommendations from my friends and fellow small shop supporters has been useful, but every once in a while I’m like… “Meh” (typically because I haven’t vetted a shop). It’s a learning game for sure.
The Relationships are AMAZING!
- This might not make sense to a lot of you, but I have people I genuinely care for in the small shop world. There are moms who buy from many of the same shops that we do and you grow fond of their jokes, their children and pray for them when they need it. I’m lucky to count many of these women as my friends. There are PIF (Pay-It-Forwards) and games and so much generosity.
- I come from a generous family. I come from a religious community. I’ve been exposed my entire life to wonderful acts of generosity. But, in the year that I have actively “shopped small” I have been blown away. Every time that tragedy hits, women from all over the country join together and try to help. From small auctions on a single item, to huge auctions with thousands of members when tragedy strikes or a member of the community dies. It is overwhelming and beautiful. I love seeing kindness in action! – when C was in the hospital two small shop owners actually sent us lunch as an act of kindness. nobody asked them to, they have never met us in person and yet there they were covering my family in prayers and kindness. I could keep going but my small shop packages just arrived and I’m looking forward to opening them!
In the meantime – consider stopping by one of our favorite shops and letting them know we sent you!
– Between Coffee and Wine (discount code FAB10)
– Rylee and Roscoe (discount code CLAIRE)
– Music City Bead Company (discount code FAB10)
– Heaven Bloom (discount FAB15)
– Hummingbirds in September (discount code ALICE15)
– Lads & Lasses (discount code LLH20)
– Hope and Oak (discount code AWESOME10)
And you can follow us on Instagram to see us on our adventures and get more awesome deals from small shops!
Next week we will be featuring 7 days of Easter on Facebook and Instagram! Because, you know Easter starts at the Easter Vigil for us Catholics and keeps going until Pentecost!