Go-to Shops for Infants, Toddlers and Kids
Take a walk in almost any East Bay neighborhood and you’ll stumble across the stroller brigade—small groups of women pushing their tots through Rockridge, down Piedmont Avenue or around the Gourmet Ghetto. And savvy shopkeepers have noticed the baby boom, responding with boutiques catering to our tiniest citizens, from infants to tweens. These boutiques have the duds and gear to fit any budget or taste.
Siobhan van WinkelThis 7-year-old shop on Telegraph Avenue is run by the eponymous Siobhan van Winkel, single mom (to daughter Hazel) and artist extraordinaire. The kids’ wares crammed into her cheerfully chaotic storefront are bright, funky and hip, many made by some 25 to 30 local artists who work with the boutique. Van Winkel herself creates a lot of the offerings, including crazily colored monster and jester hats and groovy fleece ponchos with matching hats and pants. Many other items are fair trade or organic products (such as the Under the Nile organic cotton sleepers from Egypt). Among the favorites on a recent visit were Interracial Productions baby onesies and kids T-shirts in electric hues featuring iconic figures—such as Gandhi, Billie Holiday and Muhammad Ali—emblazoned on the chest ($26). Van Winkel also makes custom costumes for kids and grownups (Burning Man outfits are a specialty). Check out her Web site, www.funk-art.com, for more info on special orders, and check out the back of her shop for a peek at Van Winkel’s actual studio, where the creativity begins. 6371 Telegraph Ave., (510) 652-1415, www.funk-art.com, open 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed.–Sat.
Red Wagon KidsSisters Julie Drummond and Laurie Ivry opened this upscale baby and kids’ boutique in 2002 and followed up with a branch over the hills in Lafayette a year later. The shop is stocked with classic clothes and a good selection of old-fashioned toys, like baking sets, wooden sword-and-shield sets, fairy jewelry boxes, loads of fairy dress-up outfits and retro photo albums featuring such little-boy standards as firemen and sports heroes. It’s a great bet for classic layette outfits for shower gifts and full ensembles for more formal occasions. These storeowners have a good tie selection for young boys and a slew of dresses for infants to teens, including such labels as Isabel Garreton, Kumquat, the French label Catimini and more. Red Wagon Kids even has a custom-order couture line for girls and is also open by appointment for those unable to visit during normal store hours. If you’re looking for a standout shower gift, ask about the custom gift baskets. 2926 Domingo Ave., Berkeley, (510) 848-1450, www.redwagonkids.com; open 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Sat. and 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun.
Waddle and SwaddleCome to this inviting Berkeley shop for both gear and resource—the backroom is crammed with helpful books and notebooks filled with doula references and more. The La Leche League meets here the third Wednesday of each month, and the Berkeley nonprofit BirthWays hosts childbirth and parenting classes here. Owner Linda Jones-Mixon (a doula herself) says she strives to stock the shop with items that not everyone else has, including gear and clothing from local designers, such as Earthly Arts’ reclaimed cashmere baby sweaters (a bit pricey at $65, but cashmere). Jones-Mixon also stocks gorgeous girly frocks from the French line Jean Bourget, a whole bunch of cotton separates from the Asian-influenced Tea babywear line and fashionable yet practical Bumbleride strollers. Check out the Web site, www.waddleandswaddle.com, for more information on classes, including meet-the-doula night. 1677 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (510) 540-7210, www.waddleand
swaddle.com, open 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat. and 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun.
Cotton & CompanyThis Rockridge shop is almost a department store for children’s clothing, complete with its own wing filled with kids’ shoes of every stripe and size. Owner Claudette von Rusten (grandmother of five) carries clothing from preemies through size 16, along with blankets, crib sheets, nursing bras, maternity wear and baby skin-care products. She also offers breast pump rentals. If you’re in the market for a christening gown, flower girl dress or baby tuxedo, this is your best bet. The store seems to offer the largest selection of christening clothes in Northern California. It also stocks loads of casual gear, too, from lines such as Petite Bateau (onesies are $18 each or two for $26), Zutano and Tea. But wander into the shoe wing to be truly amazed—from hippie sandals to high-end sneakers to formal patent leather, virtually any type of shoe you could dream up for your child can be found here. 5901 College Ave., (510) 653-8058, www.cottonandcompany.com; open 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat. and 12 p.m.–5 p.m. Sun.
BabyalulaThis light and airy Piedmont Avenue baby boutique is a great spot to pick up a little something for your favorite babe. Stocked with toys and babywear perfect for gift giving, Babyalula offers up everything from multilingual T-shirts (favorite animals with their monikers in English, Spanish and French) to giant plush giraffes (almost as tall as an adult) to Curious George jack-in-the-boxes. Head to the back for gear for the tiniest babies, including offerings from local designer Elizabeth Falkner, whose Mariposa Baby line creates clothing, blankets and bibs that come complete with butterfly-imprinted gift boxes. Owners Tiffany and Timothy Smith, who launched Babyalula two years ago, sell other local labels as well and offer a kids’ play spot complete with Baby Einstein video-watching opportunities. 3929 Piedmont Ave., (510) 597-9945, www.babyalula.com, open 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Tue.–Sat.
—By Elise Proulx
—Photography by Amy Perl
—Photography by Amy Perl