Shopping With the Little Guy: My Mom and Pop Shop Adventure

So I have declared as we venture into the second part of this year, that I am going to try something new with my shopping endeavors. I am going to go small. I used to have gripe and moan about why I hated shopping with the Little Guy. High prices, poor customer service, so little choices. I also needed to use cash all the time because they didn’t have gift cards that I could receive as gifts or add to my registry. I denounced small business shopping when I left the small business world and returned to corporate. But I have seen the light, and I am moving back to the world of small business. I used to think that I could survive on Target, BabiesRus, ToysRus and Buy Buy Baby for my future child and all my friends’ kids gifts, but I am finding that not to be true. The big box stores are just filled with so much main stream crap, and it’s starting to get to me how much the correlation between what is on TV goes into free play now.

“This character doesn’t do this! The character is supposed to do that! It’s what is on TV!”, says Z all the time.

I feel like that takes away the imagination that comes with play, and its killing me a little bit to watch her obsession with characters on TV. When she is turned off from the television and screens, she is happy and carefree, running through the woods in the backyard and playing in her “tree house”. It’s the arts and crafts and playing ball that inspire me to want to buy her toys, and explore the world through her eyes, but every time we walk into a big box store, its charters, characters, characters. So I am throwing in the towel. I am seeking a revolution to the way she plays. Preserving what little imagination she has left, so that her world can be filled with funky cool characters of her own imagination, inspired by the world she lives in, not by the writings of an animation studio.

One other draw for me is that its the simplest toys, that don’t have a lot of gadgets and noise that seem to be the favorite amongst the smallest babies and bigger tots. These toys, with their odd shapes, and no character distinguished forms or prints, keeps them engaged into turning toys into whatever their heart desires. From the rattle that was handmade that is now a pepper shaker 5 years later, to the textured cloths, that can now be bed spreads for dolls, food covers for the fridge or technicolor napkins for the tea party. It’s these simple toys that can be anything and take on whatever form a child wants, that inspires me to want to change the toys I want to offer my own child one day. That day will probably be sooner than later, and maybe that means its time to bid farewell to big box, and discover the little guy who has big adventures to share.

I will probably still go to Target on a regular basis for other random things. Who doesn’t? I will probably still walk down the aisles for hours on end. But I will probably find more inspiration for my own child’s world in a different form, and leave the big box stores for my friends who have kids who “need” those toys. My little sapling will be exploring a different world.

I have already started my Mom and Pop Adventure. I kind of started it a few years ago, dabbling in online shopping with some of my favorite stores. But because I could never walk into them, I never considered them “the little guy”. I know though, that they are, and over the course of the last 6 months, have started slowly moving in the direction of picking up more and more of my household needs from them. Even one store carries my new favorite caramels.

Most of these stores carry some basic mom needs, and a ton of baby needs. I am a little obsessed with all things itty bitty as I plan for my future child, but the way most of these popular stores are set up, it leaves me wanting more now that Z is in primary school. So I am exploring and seeking a store that might cater to an older group of kids who like to dress as free spirits and play creatively and sustainably. So off to adventure we will explore, and the shopping begins!

I will not be giving up my high fashion needs though, that is something I have yet to figure out if I can ever give up. Sorry sustainable world, high fashion, brown and silver bags, and red bottom heels are still my best friend, so let’s just pretend they are kind of a little guy. Maybe an in between middle/medium guy?

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