Thursday, November 26, 2009

GSK is giving thanks.

In retail, the holiday season can prove to be stressful and hectic to say the least. In years past, I have had a difficult time wrapping my head around the notion that people are already Christmas shopping when Halloween costumes are still on the racks. And usually, I have waited until "Black Friday," on which we have always been closed, to change the windows out and decorate for Christmas. This year, however, I didn't wait, and Christmas is already up and sparkling throughout GROVE STREET kids.

So why is this year different? I wish I knew the answer to that, but for the last couple of months, GROVE STREET kids has been so busy that waiting just wouldn't have been prudent. And for this, we are so thankful! In these challenging economic times, GROVE STREET kids feels exceedingly fortunate that our business is growing and flourishing. Honestly, there is a part of me that is waiting for the other shoe to drop... that it's going to slow down. But for now, at least, let us just send abundant thanks to all of our customers and friends that have helped make the last year one to be grateful for. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Donations... where do they go?

A lot of folks ask us where we make our donations to when they come into the store. In the past, GROVE STREET kids has donated to national organizations such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army but also local organizations such as A Safe Place (Domestic Violence Services) in Oakland and Harrison House, a shelter right here in Berkeley. GSK also accepts requests for shelters and/or organizations of their customers' choice.

Recently, with the combined efforts of our neighbors at Positive Motion Training Studio, Grove Street Kids was able to send a large amount of used clothing and shoes to the children and families of AHOPE Ethiopia, extending their efforts internationally. Positive Motion's co-owner Laura Lambert delivered the items personally.

AHOPE is a non-profit organization that helps the orphan children of Ethiopia, with an emphasis of helping children living with the HIV-virus.

We received a letter from the director of AHOPE thanking us for our donations. We are at once pleased and humbled at the opportunity to be a service to this wonderful organization.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Introducing... oishii

GROVE STREET kids is pleased to announce the latest addition to our family....oishii modern knits. Beautifully hand crafted knit caps for babies on up are now available in our store. Hand-knit with 100% natural fibers (cotton, modal, wool) by designer Erika Kemp and her team right here in Berkeley. Come check out our selection. Don't see what you like? We can special order!

Previously available at the former O Baby Baby and Waddle & Swaddle, oishii (meaning "delcious" in japanese) designer and owner Erika Kemp makes beautiful, oh so soft baby hats, blankets and ponchos. She also does custom orders in colors and yarns that you can choose from, in the combination you would like.

We are very excited about this new partnership, and hope that you will be too!

Read more about oishii here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Back to... Ghoul?

Is it just me, or are the seasons out of order this year? It seemed like all summer long, it was winter, and now that fall is vast approaching, we are now having the summer sun and heat! I guess that's why us locals refer to this time of year as "Indian Summer" or the "Dog Days" of summer. But because of our particularly cold, actual summer having been so long, I'm just now starting to get used to the warmth and sunshine, yet people are coming into the store requesting... Halloween Costumes!

Rest assured, GROVE STREET kids will have a great selection of used and new Halloween Costumes. Everything from Fairies and Firemen to Pirates and Pixies. Superheroes. Goblins and Ghouls.

Truth be told, Halloween is one of my favorite occasions to celebrate and I love decorating the windows for it. Check out our slide show to see Ghouls and Goblins Past. But for now, we'd like to let our customers know that the costumes are coming... we'd just like to soak up a little more sunshine first. Look for costumes on the racks by the end of next week, and in the windows the first week of October.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back to school.... already?

GROVE STREET kids just celebrated having opened our doors 2 years ago (July 18, 2007). My how time flies! It seems like just yesterday that I was collecting inventory from all my parent friends to have something to put on those racks! Well, there's no shortage now, and GROVE STREET kids is ready for "Back to School." And we have recently updated the store to make your shopping experience more convenient and enjoyable. Come check it out!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ms. Independent

In July we celebrate the independence of our nation. It can also be a time when we celebrate the independence of our economy and the terrific independent businesses that make our community unique.

When we shop at Berkeley Independents, we support the notion of taxation with representation ... Our sales tax dollars get routed to our municipal government where democracy is acted out at the grass roots. And we get the pleasure of a personal relationship with the folks who provide us with the products and services we rely on.

So, when you shop with Berkeley independent businesses, you cast a vote for your home town -- and declare your independence from cookie cutter consumerism.

Buy Local Berkeley challenges you to meet all of your needs from July 1st through 7th exclusively at locally owned, independent Berkeley businesses. The Berkeley City Council Proclaimed the first week of July Independents Week and joined towns across the country to celebrate the local, independent businesses that make our communities unique. Each of the 9 City Council members has also personally taken the pledge to shop local Berkeley for the week.

For every $100 dollars we spend at local independents, $68 of that money gets spent again right here in our region. That's 58% more money added to our region than when you spend at a national chain.
All these numbers mean that when we buy from cool, indie businesses we are helping our friends and neighbors keep their jobs and nurturing our local economy. So, in honor of July 4th, let's Celebrate our Independents!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Should we stay or should we go?

Some of you may already know that GROVE STREET kids was considering a move to a busier (not necessarily better) location. Due to the state of the economy, we had become aware that rents were coming down, and we could afford to be in a location that would provide more foot traffic and more visibility to us. We were very close to signing a new lease but, after negotiations with our current landlord, amongst other things, we have decided to stay where we are. Our landlords are actually really great (which is worth a lot we have found), we have a new neighbor coming in at the former games store location (a hair salon) and we expect our little business district on"Grove Street" to be bustling. We are very excited!

In other news, we must say "à bientôt" to our beloved Emmanuelle, who will be leaving us for the summer holiday in Switzlerland! Nous sommes si triste de la voir aller! But she is welcome back upon her return bien sûr.

Meanwhile, you will see some new faces, welcome aboard Lizette! And hopefully you will see our soon-to-be graduated daughter, Bailey, spending some time at the store before she starts school in the fall.

We do expect to close temporarily in July for a week or so to give the store some revitalization in anticipation of our 2 year Anniversary. So stay tuned for details and upcoming promotion of our "Grand Reopening."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What does it mean to be Green?

I wish I had made this post yesterday, as it would have been apropos of Earth Day, but better late I suppose. We are very excited, regardless, about our Green Business Certification.

So what does it mean to be Green? Well, after submitting the application and filling out extensive questionnaires about our business practices, it ultimately means that we meet or exceed all the stringent guidelines proposed by the County of Alameda for waste management and recycling, that we comply with all environmental regulations, and take steps to conserve natural resources, prevent pollution and reduce waste.

We had inspections by PG&E, EBMUD and the City of Berkeley. Some of our practices include using environmentally-friendly cleaning products, use energy-efficient lighting and use practices (ie.timers), and use supply vendors that reduce waste in their packaging whenever possible, to name a few. We passed all of our inspections with flying colors!

Goodness, it feels good to be Green!

Friday, March 6, 2009

'Tis the Season...

....for stomach flu. And for some reason, I think the flu shot that I get faithfully every fall doesn't apply. And if you have small children in the house forget about it. My younger daughter, Olivia, came down with a cold, not last weekend but the weekend before. Trooper that she is, she went about her days doing what she normally does, with a roll of TP in tow for her incessantly running nose. She seemed fine, otherwise. Three days later, it hit me. It was bad enough that I had to close the store for half a day last Friday. By Monday, all was well. Or so I thought. In the middle of that night (now Tuesday, 3 am) Olivia woke up screaming and crying, having vomited all over her bed. Enter, stomach flu. She stayed at home that day, as did I with her. I called the advice nurse at her doctor's... not knowing exactly how to treat Olivia, because she's never been ill with anything the vomiting was the only symptom... no fever, no cough. She told me, "Oh yes, we are seeing a lot of this - it's definitely going around." And then, "there's nothing you can really do but let it run it's course." "Have her drink small amounts of clear liquids, stay away from milk products, if she's hungry, let her have crackers, chicken soup, etc." Ok, I said, ready to hang up, just before she added, "Be careful, it's terribly contagious."


So with that I went back to work on Wednesday, feeling fine and that I had escaped it. But alas, Wednesday night I found myself in the same position or positions, if you will, as my daughter was 2 days before me. I was panicked about it as well as, being diabetic, my immune system is already compromised. And when I get any illness involving regurgitation, I inevitably end up in the hospital.

This time, I am happy to report, that I seemed to have avoided it, the hospital that is, and will hopefully be back to work tomorrow, Saturday. I just wanted to let our customers know what was happening so they would understand why the store was seemingly open one day, and then not the next. I do have some help at the store, but unfortunately, the wonderful Emmanuelle has sick children of her own to contend with. As I said, 'Tis the season!

But we do sincerely apologize for any inconvenience to our customers, and greatly appreciate their patronage!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Self Stimulation

I don't have time to read much anymore, what with running a business, taking care of my family, and washing 12-18 loads of laundry each week. Not to mention that, with the internet, I don't have to pick up a newspaper to get the latest news, classifieds or movie reviews. I do, however, like to peruse the East Bay Monthly magazine/newspaper that gets delivered to GROVE STREET kids, especially since the editor (at that time) is a customer at our store, and did us the lovely favor of sending one of her staff writers over to do a little article about us in their Shop Talk section. (10/07)

This month's issue has a letter from the publisher, Karen Klaber, on the back. It's entitled "Buy Local • Stay Local • Be East Bay" and is all about the benefits of shopping locally. Now, I don't think I've ever claimed to be particularly savvy when it comes to running and/or owning a business. My background is in Design, after all. When I opened GROVE STREET kids, I didn't have a business plan with lots of data or figures to tell me why it would be a good business venture. I couldn't begin to tell you what percentage of my gross (or is it my net?) profit should be reinvested in the infrastructure. Nor did I compare the quarterly forecasts for the children's retail industry to determine the net (or is it the gross?) profit and loss statements... what the??? I, basically, just believed in my gut that it was a good move to make. Just like in my mind, I just know it's a good idea to support and patronize our local community's small businesses. And today, in Ms. Klaber's letter, I read some facts and figures as to why it's such a good idea.

There's a lot of talk these days of an "economic stimulus." As the Buy Local Berkeley campaign explains, where you spend your money determines just how stimulating it is. For every $100 you spend, $68 of it stays in our local community. That means 58% more of your money gets spent again right here in our region. Now you are helping your friends and neighbors keep their jobs. You're helping the environment by conserving fuel. You are conserving tax dollars because local sales taxes are reinvested into the community. You are a walking, talking stimulus package! You are self-stimulating.

For more detailed information on how to"self-stimulate" and why it's good for you and our local community, visit

Friday, January 9, 2009

U-S-C-P-S-C Spells Relief...

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission declared yesterday that resellers and consignment store owners are not required to certify that used products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards. That IS good news, in that we will not be committing a felony if we continue to operate GROVE STREET kids.

Now having written that statement, which sounds a bit disheartening - as if we don't care about the safety of children's products - we want to assure our customers that we absolutely care and all the toys and gifts that we purchase directly from manufacturers have been tested and certified. Used clothing and shoes, of course, are a different story, and we cannot absolutely guarantee that all textiles and components of these items are 100% lead-free. From a business standpoint it just doesn't make sense to be required to test used garments - the cost of testing and certification far exceeds the cost of the garment itself! Which is why there was such a concern that resale and consignment stores across the nation would be forced to close their doors. Not to mention the loss of revenue from children's items sold at bigger companies like Salvation Army or The Good Will.

I think we have set a good precedent for the quality of merchandise we will accept for resale here at GROVE STREET kids. But, rest assured, we are conscious of the new law taking effect in February and would never want to sell anything, be it clothing, shoes or toys that would put any child at risk or in danger.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Out with the Old, Out with it All?

On January 1st, I had started a post entitled..."Out with Old, In with the New-to-You!" excited at the prospect of a New Year in Resale Children's clothing. Then, last night, I received an email from a good friend simply stating... "Is this for real?? What are you going to do?" She had sent me a link to a blog that basically states that due to a new law, the Consumer Product Safety Act, the possibility is very real that consignment and resale shops, like GROVE STREET kids could be forced to shut their doors.

This law, while well-intentioned, is fatally flawed. This law requires that all products (including clothing) sold for children ages 12 and under, be tested for lead and other toxic chemicals. Anything that hasn't been tested will be considered hazardous (even if they don't contain the chemicals) and cannot be sold. Not on eBay, not in a garage sale, not at GROVE STREET kids.

In addition, this law requires expensive testing and certification for every handmade item for children. Small crafters, handmade items (even made out of certified organic materials) will have to be tested in order to be sold legally. The phthalates testing is only required on products manufactured after the act goes into effect on February 10, 2009, but the lead testing is required on all children's products already made, and therefore would force us to throw out our entire inventory, because as resale store owners, it's certainly not worth the cost of testing each garment or product we sell.

That's not all. This law will require testing on EVERYTHING that comes into contact with your child that is 12 years or under. This includes clothing, of course, shoes, bedding, backpacks, sippy cups, car seats. I don't think I need to go on with the list, for you to understand the impact of such a poorly written piece of legislature.

So what can be done? We need to get the word out to our Legislators. There are two links you can go to to petition this law.
The first is where you can vote to petition this law. The second is the American Apparel and Footwear Association where you can write directly to your Representative, Congressperson or Senator.

On a final note, I have no plans to shut my doors on February 10th. I think something must change regarding this legislation if for no other reason than it goes against every platform President-Elect Obama stands on. So, until I'm told differently, at GROVE STREET kids, it's out with the old, and in with the new-to-you!