Every time Christmas rolls around, it fascinates me.
No, not the trees or the lights or the gingerbread houses (although, truth be told, those are pretty cool), but the great secret we, as a society, keep about Santa Claus. It’s not even among our friends and family. If you listen to the radio or watch TV, they’re all in on the secret, too, sometimes going so far as to raise the question, “Do you believe?” only to drop it with a laugh and a slap on the back. (“Heh heh, of COURSE you believe in Santa. Wink wink.”)
While I still manage to keep the Santa wool over my daughter’s eyes, there is one Christmas tradition that has reached its end, at least for now: The shiny new packaging that can only come from a big-box store. OK, I’m not a total grinch—there may be a Monster High doll or two under the tree this year — but after watching my daughter embrace a toy for 12 hours after Christmas, only to leave it untouched for the following six months, I’d rather look for toys that are either locally made, more sustainable than something made in China, or can be gussied up enough to find a second life.
For example, I got my daughter a 3-foot-long airplane from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore two years ago. She still puts her Polly Pockets inside it to fly them around the living room. Another one: She loves her sequined shorts from Goodwill, but never wore her Gap jean skirt, purchased new at the mall.
So with that in mind, let me introduce you to the expanded shopping options we now have locally, for both new parents and the little girl or boy on your list.
ReBlossom Mama and Baby Shop is a consignment shop that recently relocated to a lovely front-window location at 220 N. Milledge Ave. The store has clothing for babies and toddlers, along with gently used gear and toys. Owner Monira Silk is a mother as well, so she has an eye for what’s good and what works, and the selection reflects that. You also can find locally made creations such as hair bows, bibs, nursing covers, hats and jewelry.
Another great stop for expecting/new parents, Rattles and Rhymes at 112 Athens W. Parkway has clothes, furniture and various accessories for babies and toddlers. The selection has unique items like rubberized chairs that sit on a countertop (great for feeding a 9-month-old while washing dishes) or the “pee-pee tee pee” (for that silly friend having a boy… if you have to ask, you don’t need to know). Also, find a large selection of cloth diapers and accessories from local retailer The Natural Baby, located inside the store.
You’ll find both clothes and gifts at Heery’s Too (184 E. Clayton St.), but this is a great place to shop for the woman you know who is having a baby—and you want to impress her.
I include the following few stores with a caveat: At Christmas, my daughter seems to react to clothing as if she were receiving a large pink rabbit pajama set. But heck, sometimes kids honestly do need clothes for Christmas. So if you’re in this camp, at least get your money’s worth by buying from a resale or consignment shop. With some fancy packaging, nobody will ever know the difference.
If you’re looking for children’s clothes on consignment, there aren’t a lot of options around here. ReBlossom has a good selection, though, as do A Child’s Closet (1430 Capital Ave., Watkinsville) and Bump and Beyond Consignments (1021 Industrial Blvd., Watkinsville). If your child is thinking of taking up some activity that requires special shoes, you can often get lucky and find them at A Child’s Closet, too (think ballet or tap, for example). Although, a word of advice: Know your child’s style before shopping, because you’ll likely get blinded by the pretty, colorful things and you’ll come home with an armload — and they’ll end up wearing nothing but brown.
For new clothes, skip the mall and go local. Baxter Street has two stores that sell new clothes for kids. Elephant Trunk (1059 Baxter St.) sells a curated selection of both boys and girls clothes, from babies up to about age 8. Note the boys items—those are hard to find around here without heading to a big-box store. Sweet Chic-A-Dee opened next door in October after selling handmade girls clothes on Facebook. The storefront is a new venture, and you’ll find items for babies up to about age 8, as well as accessories and a few women’s clothing items.
If you haven’t visited this store for its princess-themed tea parties, then swing by Belles and Beaus (40 N. Main St., Watkinsville) for its select clothes, shoes and accessories for little girls. This is the kind of shop where grandmothers go a little crazy, but you can’t really blame them.
Along with ReBlossom, which has a selection of new and nearly-new toys, be sure to stop by Treehouse Kid and Craft (815 W. Broad St.) for a range of fun stuff for boys and girls. Along with some baby clothes, you’ll find a curated selection of sustainable, brain-exercising toys for a range of ages. And for older kids, there’s also a ton of fun crafting supplies (combined with a trip to Michael’s or JoAnn Fabrics, and you can have a great DIY gift for the budding crafter).
If you haven’t taken your child to Avid Bookshop (493 Prince Ave.) at least once, then I’m not sure what you’re thinking. And while they are sitting in the hot air balloon with their favorite selection, take note—and come back to get it. The entire back of the store is a child’s reading paradise.
Many husbands know downtown stores as the place to go for jewelry, but don’t miss the selection of kids’ jewelry and fun accessories at Frontier (193 E. Clayton St.). Find handmade purses, hair bows, pearls and stocking stuffers that are handmade or sustainable—or both.
It’s worth fighting the traffic in Five Points to browse the local and hand-crafted toys at Homeplace (1676 S. Lumpkin St.). Also find books and games suitable for a range of elementary ages.
For older kids, Junkman’s Daughter’s Brother (485 E. Clayton St.) is a goldmine. Beyond stocking stuffers, find joke gifts, posters and cool stuff for a teenager’s room. You might even find a T-shirt snarky enough for a high schooler.
Kids really do love comic books. And how great would it be to get some fun comics in your stocking? So swing by Bizarro Comics Toys & Records (225 College Ave.) for both boys and girls—my daughter loves the My Little Pony series.
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