Seattle's Child

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kids stores

Ellie Cassidy and Mona Anastas joined forces to bring sustainable kids’ goods to shoppers in Chophouse Row. (Photo by Joshua Huston)

Kids’ retailers are doing the pandemic pivot

These local children's shops have uncovered new ways to operate during COVID-19.

Kids’ stores: Everyone has made changes in the past year, including many local shops. Plenty of small businesses serving children and parents have found clever ways to pivot (and survive) in the midst of the pandemic.

Two Owls recently combined forces with Bootyland Kids. Now the businesses are collaborating in Chophouse Row on Capitol Hill. Two Owls, formerly in the Madrona neighborhood, is known for alternative kids’ toys and organic cotton clothing; Bootyland Kids specializes in sustainable products for toddlers, kids, tweens and adults. The stores offer online shopping and in-store pickup, as well as free gift wrapping.

Childish Things, on Holman Road in northwest Seattle, revised its layout for social distancing. Owner Wendy Powell opened the store 12 years ago to serve as a resource for families, offering a play area for kids and buying and reselling used items.

“We opened to be both a business and an experience,” she says.

The business prides itself on fitting kids for shoes and helping parents and caregivers learn how to use baby carriers. The shop has temporarily closed the play area, and it’s been a challenge to replace the fun pre-COVID experience of discovering new items for shoppers.

Childish Things carries more than 10,000 pieces and sells new items online, but it will never be a fully online store, Powell says: “It’s just not who we are.”

The store walks a fine line keeping people safe and working with the various restrictions, which can often be confusing. Powell happily welcomes people to shop in person, limiting the amount of time they can spend inside. The shop is also open for curbside pickup.

Math ’n’ Stuff, located in Maple Leaf, has seen firsthand how shoppers’ pandemic choices have changed. “This has been the year of the jigsaw puzzle,” manager Mikaela Wingard-Phillips says. “Kites are through the roof.”

The games and toy store moved its popular Magic: The Gathering card game tournaments online after the pandemic hit in 2020.

Every solution is an imperfect one, but Wingard-Phillips has found that the last thing kids and families need right now is more screen time. “Families have been looking for escapism,” she says.

Her mother opened the store more than 28 years ago. It’s been supported by a loyal fan base, and has been able to reopen its board game rental library. Math ’n’ Stuff currently has made in-store shopping, curbside pickup and online ordering available.

Math ’n’ Stuff has also seen a popular addition to the neighborhood: a local baker, Backyard Bakery, holds a pop-up outside the store on the weekends.

“Sometimes a small baked good on the weekend is just the right amount of joy,” says Wingard-Phillips.

Two Owls: 1429 12th Ave., Suite D3, shoptwoowls.com

Bootyland Kids: 1429 12th Ave., Suite D3, bootylandkids.com

Childish Things: 9776 Holman Rd. NW, #102, childishresale.com

Math ’n’ Stuff: 8926 Roosevelt Way NE, mathnificent.com

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About the Author

Katrina Otuonye

Katrina Otuonye is a writer, editor and educator. She’s also a budding plant mom who strives to meet the title of “Best Auntie” to her niece and nephews.