On the Cloth Diaper Project's facebook page, someone mentioned they wanted a local shop closer to them so they didn't have to drive so far to shop for cloth diapers. As we begin our series on shopping local, I thought it would be appropriate to share my response.
We are VERY fortunate to have so many cloth diaper shops in the area!! When I first started cloth diapering, I knew of zero local shops. I asked on online cloth diaper forums, and no one could help me. I finally found out about the Nappy Shoppe and Babies Bottoms and More, and then the others as the Group expanded. But by then, I had a full stash and didn't *need* anything else. I am not a big fan of online shopping, I prefer to see/feel the product before deciding if I want to spend my money on it. And then there is the shipping (which increases the cost of each item, imo)
When I shopped online for diapers, it was very difficult. I bought a few at a time (enough to get free shipping) before deciding if I wanted to order more of that brand, or try something else. I had to wait for them to process the order and ship it to me. It would be a week or so before knowing if I would even like the look of the diaper. I ended up spending more than I needed to on diapers, because of this trial/error with online shopping.
If I had known about local shops, it would be so much easier. Even if I had to drive 1-2 hours, I would have done it in a heartbeat. I could have seen the diapers to compare side by side to know which ones I thought would fit my LO best. I would have felt if they were as soft as I wanted against his skin. I would have had the expert help from the shop owner to answer questions about those specific diapers. I would have gone home that same day with diapers to start trying with E. I would have saved money by not buying diapers that I didn't like the look of, despite having to spend money on gas to get there/back.
Plus, I would have been supporting local wahm businesses.
So many people do not have a CD shop remotely close to them. We have 2 diaper services, 15 retailers, and many wahm shops in this area. That is unheard of! I mentioned this in a meeting with Heather M (president of the Real Diaper Association) and a few other cloth diaper advocates, they were astounded at the number of local shops.
So while I do understand your situation (we've been there so many times, and sometimes still are there -- like this week), I just want to remind you of how lucky we are to have so many shops so close to us! Even if "close" means 45 minutes or more, that is much closer than most others who use cloth diapers.
Ultimately, I think it will still be a better choice financially to make the drive to shop local. You will not spend extra money on items you may not like or on shipping. The shop owners can help you with making the best choice for your family to save you money. Shopping online, it is hard to get that personal service (while many online shops have AMAZING customer service, it is not the same as someone standing in front of you answering questions and showing you items).
I do think it would be awesome to have a shop in that direction, but the interest has to be there on that side of town, and someone needs to start it up:) Keep in mind that all of our local shops are also online, and have a lot of business that is not local. Local sales alone will not be enough to keep them in business. There are only 2 actual storefronts in our area, with a few others with in-home stores (an area of their home that they have converted to a store). Being a store-front (brick & mortar) takes a lot more investment and on-going costs, which is why it is difficult in this economy for them to be a common thing. Most cloth diaper shops are online only because they cannot afford to open a b&m shop.
Okay, now I'm off my soap box. Can you tell this is something I'm passionate about, too, lol? I just wanted to share a different perspective on local shops vs online shopping, from a customer's standpoint. Sharni from the Nappy Shoppe has been posting a lot recently about shopping locally from a retailer vs online from deal a day websites, so she's got my mind going there;) Anyway, let me know your thoughts on this. Feel free to disagree, but this is how I personally feel on the subject.
We went on to have a discussion about this, and while I do understand not everyone can or will shop local, I still feel that you should try to as much as possible. You can shop online at all of our local shops! So even if you aren't able to drive there, you can still support them from your home. Sharni, owner of the Nappy Shoppe, has been blogging about why you should shop local. Here is a great post that she borrowed from a fellow cloth diaper retailer, about 10 reasons why you should shop local.
It is hard for even me to remember how it was to not know about our local shops. I felt that online was the only place I could go for information about cloth diapers, and places to shop for them. This is part of the reason I started the DFW CD Group, so that others can know where they can go to get a hands on cloth diaper experience. I actually feel like I'm cheating in some way if I do not shop locally. I have to remind myself that most people who make the choice to cloth diaper do not have such a large support group in their area, nor do they have so many choices on where to shop locally.
While I do not expect everyone to be willing to drive several hours to visit a cloth diaper shop (many drive from surrounding areas, even from Oklahoma, to visit cloth diaper stores in this area), I do hope that there is appreciation for the amazing cloth diaper community we have in the DFW area!
Stay tuned for upcoming posts about our amazing local cloth diaper shops!
What reasons would you add to the top 10 reasons to shop local?