When it comes to where to spend your family’s hard-earned dollars, boy, you certainly put your mouth where your money is. The competition was fierce in the family shopping category, and we heard you loud and clear with your votes for shops, boutiques and services that focus on quality, customer service and great value.
Kids' Consignment Shop
You really like Sugarlump, a small store tucked into a quiet row of shops in the Madison Valley neighborhood. Sugarlump carries a selection of high-end, name-brand children’s and maternity clothes, carefully selected to be in perfect condition — no big-box store brands allowed. You’ll get a “great deal on high-quality clothes” and “the greatest finds,” according to the store’s number one fans. And while you’re there, be sure to look for trendy new items such as See Kai Run shoes, stylish diaper bags and natural rubberwood toys.
You gave Seattle-based online consignment boutique Stella + Jack raves for its prices, great deals and good selection. The boutique sells infant and toddler items, and girls’ and boys’ clothes, shoes, toys and accessories, but with a twist on traditional consignment. Fill out a form online, and your items will be picked up at your home, posted to the site, and donated if not sold. Sweet and incredibly easy (and that means a lot to a sleep-deprived parent).
Children’s consignment boutique Paron’s Closet is a small shop in Wallingford Center that sells clothes for children ages 12 and younger, as well as shoes, maternity clothes and a selection of new items. You like its “great quality” and “great prices.”
Lynnwood’s Jack & Jill Consignment sells just about everything for kids: clothes (up to age 16), shoes, toys, nursery items, you name it. The selection is deep and wide, and shopping there is like a treasure hunt — you never know what you might find. You love it for its “great selection of gently used items at amazing prices” and call it “extremely organized.”
Other finalists include the twice-yearly consignment event Bumps & Babies Fair, held in Seattle, and the popular Me ‘N Moms, which grew from a small shop in North Ballard to a three-store chain with locations in downtown Ballard, Issaquah and Lynnwood.
Kids' Shoe Store
Winner: The Shoe Zoo
The Shoe Zoo, the beloved University District store that’s been locals’ go-to spot for kids’ shoes since 1988, received overwhelming support from readers grateful that it didn’t close earlier this year due to financial difficulties. You raved about the store — known for its baby-shoe fittings and excellent customer service — calling out its knowledgeable staff (“They know their stuff”), “great quality” and affordability. You’ll find better-known brands here, for infants through preteens, as well as a sale rack of deeply discounted shoes. Don’t worry about your little wiggler getting bored while you shop; the store stocks plenty of toys to keep them entertained. One reader sums it up for us: “They are the best.”
Busy readers spoke up on behalf of University Village shoe boutique Sole Food, which carries trendy (though spendy) shoes for the entire family. You like the store’s high-quality brands, “impeccable” service and “really cool” shoes for kids.
Many a Northwest family has a picture of their baby getting fitted for its first pair of shoes at a local Nordstrom, and it’s still a family favorite. The homegrown department store chain gets the nod for always offering “the best fit, selection and service,” as well as for the balloons kids get after a fitting.
You visit StrideRite’s stores in Bellevue Square, Alderwood Mall and Southcenter Shopping Mall because of its “awesome selection,” “great value” and convenient locations. The national chain stocks comfortable, durable shoes for infants, toddlers and children ages 5 and older.
Winner: Simple Cloth
When a big-box store for a baby shower gift or special-occasion outfit just won’t do, you head to a local baby boutique, where owners know their clientele and stock up on items you won’t find anywhere else. Simple Cloth of Olympia — which has a loyal following in the South Sound area — is “full of hard-to-find natural baby things” including lots of choices for the cloth-diapering crowd. Parents-to-be can visit the store for a cloth diaper consultation, and moms and dads with kids in tow can visit the play area to break up shopping time. (New moms can make use of one of two nursing areas.) We got enthusiastic responses to this category; you love your local store and appreciate the personal customer service. You call it a “superb cloth diapering resource” and love its excellent customer service.
“They have everything you’d ever need for a new baby.” That’s what you say about Once Upon a Time on Queen Anne, a sweet store where you’ll find soft cotton muslin swaddling blankets, cuddly crib blankets, gentle skin care products and high-end toys. There’s lots for older kids, too.
You raved about University Village standby Village Maternity’s “super-cute baby stuff and toys” and helpful, knowledgeable staff. The small but well-stocked store carries stylish maternity and nursing clothes, nursing accessories (including breast pumps), and beautifully designed outfits for preemies and babies up to 24 months old.
Tottini, in South Lake Union, is the place for parents who favor a touch of cool with their cute. The store specializes in über-modern baby furniture, cribs and décor.
Also at U Village (a home away from home for many a northeast Seattle parent), is the packed-full-of-great-stuff Kid’s Club, which carries cloth diapers, bottles, a good selection of baby toys, “the best selection of car seats and strollers and infant skin care products.” Its unique product line includes, according to a reader, “things that you can’t find anywhere else.”
Finally, you visit Birth and Beyond in Madison Park – which offers nursing supplies, infant slings and bedding, diapers and infant skin-care lines -- for its “excellent edited collection of the best items for my needs.”
Winner: Creative Mom Toys
Fans of Creative Mom Toys in Renton came out in droves to talk about their favorite toy store. “Great selection of educational toys — good play area, too!” says one reader. Here, you’ll find toys high in educational value and with tactile — and non-electronic — qualities. You’ll also find whimsical child-sized aprons, funky bags and yoga mats for kids. The store regularly offers book readings, music and other events. It’s a “fantastic alternative to the Targets of the world,” according to one reader. “The gifts I get are always unique and adored!”
Top Ten Toys’ fans are legion and vocal: “Such amazing toys. The best. I cannot even find words to describe how awesome!” The large (more than 7,000 square feet) store, located in a strip mall in Greenwood, has a utilitarian décor, but plenty of play stations for kids, along with a mind-boggling selection of nonviolent, educational toys for all ages.
Izilla Toys, which recently closed its Capitol Hill location, is another one of your favorites. Its Wallingford Center store has what you call the “best selection” of “creative, affordable and educational toys,” and regular in-store events (including story and music times) keep you coming back for more.
Once Upon a Time on Queen Anne gets a nod for its toy selection. You appreciate the store’s great customer service and call it “The. Best. Toy. Store. EVER!” for its bath toy room, European toys and toys made by local companies. It’s “a wonderful alternative to Toys R Us.”
Other finalists include Mill Creek-based online toy seller SillyCreatures.com, which sells natural and eco-friendly (and quite unique) toys that are made in the U.S., and Snapdoodle Toys in Kenmore (“The staff is just fantastic. I love the selection and the boys love to play there while I'm shopping.”).
Kids' Clothing Boutique
Once again, Madison Valley consignment shop Sugarlump is your clear favorite for kids' clothing, proving that “special” doesn’t necessarily have to mean “new.” You adore the store’s “great staff” and discriminating selection of high-end, ever-so-gently-used children’s clothing. But you visit for its new goods and gear, too -- including organic baby wear from speesees and adorable Jack and Lilly leather boots. Voters had plenty of love for Sugarlump, commenting that “the new clothes there are beautiful and fun.”
Capitol Hill’s Bootylandoffers a “great selection of organic clothing,” groovy locally made T-shirts and PVC-free rain gear.
Hanna Andersson (stores at University Village and Bellevue Square) gets your vote for its colorful, durable basics for kids of all ages: “Their clothes never wear out, and are the best-made kids’ clothes anywhere!”
Kid’s Club, also located at University Village, stocks better brands for babies through tweens. “The clothes are trendy, stylish, and fantastic quality!”
Kids' Furniture Store
Winners: tottini and IKEA
When it comes to furnishing your child’s spaces, you like modern design – whether it comes from the sleek South Lake Union showroom of children’s furniture store tottini or IKEA’svast Renton warehouse. The two stores – similar in design sensibility but oh, so different in price and execution – tied for this category’s top spot. You “love the modern look” at tottini, which stocks clean-lined (and heirloom-worthy) nursery furniture, toddler beds, tiny table-and-chair sets and other kids’ furniture in natural colors -- no bright primaries here. “Adorable, modern furniture with the best glider in the world (Monte Luca).” Bargain hunters make a run to the Renton IKEA for its “great, sustainably-made, fun furniture at affordable prices.”
You like the “choices and prices” at kids’ stock-up superstore Babies “R” Us (multiple locations) and praise the “awesome décor” at Crown Hill consignment boutique Childish Things, where you can score “high end” items for a relatively small outlay of cash.
Other finalists include Bellevue’s Go To Your Room, which sells classic, well-made baby and toddler furniture, kids’ furnishings giant The Land of Nod, and Pottery Barn Kids, where you can outfit a nursery, little kid’s room, or bigger kid’s room. (Both located at Seattle’s University Village.)
Winner: Mockingbird Books
Mockingbird Books, housed in a vintage brick hall close to Green Lake, is a calm little bookstore with a children’s play area and café for latte-loving parents. Story time is scheduled daily (except Sundays) at 11 a.m., drawing in families before or after their trip to the Green Lake playground; and book groups and author appearances for all ages are also regular events on the menu. You appreciate its “great selection of hard-to-find books” and “very knowledgeable staff,” proving once again that customer service is king.
You like Island Books for its “broad selection” of books and “staff who can help make choices.” The Mercer Island standby — it’s been in business for almost 40 years — is a favorite with families for its story times, which include refreshments and (sometimes) pajama-clad children.
Ballard’s Secret Garden Bookshop is another longtime local treasure; it’s been in business 30 years. A well-chosen selection of children’s books line the shelves in the front of the store, while in the back, families sit down for unique story times and readings by local and national authors. You call it a “comfortable place to hang out in” with “staff who actually read the books.”
Local chain University Book Store offers the convenience of several locations, a large bookstore’s deep selection of children’s books, and regular story times and author events for kids. You like the Mill Creek location for its “large, open children’s book area, plus a cafe with Top Pot doughnuts.”
Winner: The Salon at Kid's Club
The Salon at Kid’s Club in University Village boasts a jungle mural on the walls and brightly colored taxi cabs and fire trucks for your little ones to sit in. The kids can finish up their cut with braids, colored gel, sparkles or a faux hawk. It’s a popular place for baby’s first haircut; you go home with a lock of hair tucked inside a cute keepsake card. The kids might love the salon’s colorful walls and friendly atmosphere, but you appreciate a staff that “works really well with children” and gives “absolutely the best kid’s haircut.”
Wallingford Center salon L’il Klippers has been in business since 1988, and its sweet animal-shaped wooden chairs and “best patient stylists” keep parents coming back. The salon encourages parents to step out to get a cupcake at nearby Trophy (or do anything else off-premises), so the stylists can work their magic on calm kids.
While kids wait for their turn to sit on the chainsaw-carved sea animals,Phinney Ridge’s Beach Comber Kids' Cuts keeps wiggly kids busy in a large playroom in the back. Then, when it’s time to get their cuts, they can chill out and watch DVDs while the friendly and gentle stylists work their magic. You tell us they “have a way with the kiddos,” and we think you’re right.
Sugarcomb Salon, also located in Phinney, is a full-service salon that caters to kids with a play salon area and friendly owner Sean Bates, who many of you mentioned by name. “My kid LOVES him,” you say, also calling him “amazing and talented.”
Winner: Heather Quintans Photography
Heather Quintans of Heather Quintans Photography takes beautiful, natural-looking portraits of children and families in her SoDo studio or on location. You were effusive in your praise for her work, calling Quintans “very experienced at working with children and families” -- and describe her images as “absolutely gorgeous” and “perfection.” With a patient and friendly manner, you say, she “totally catches [children’s] essence” in her work.
Justine Shelton of Everett-based J. Shelton Photography takes clean, crisp images in her clients’ natural setting or outdoors. You call her an “amazingly talented and creative photographer who is fantastic with kids.”
Teddi Yaeger of Teddi Yaeger Photography, also based in Everett, works out of her studio or on location. She’s “talented, patient, creative and fun” according to you, and she “captures the spirit” of the kids she works with.
Seattle’s Heleyna Holmes of Heleyna Holmes Photography meets clients in local parks or at her home studio for their photography sessions. You like the way she works with kids, and call her work “very creative.”
Other finalists include Seattle-based Hope and Memory Photography (“Best photographer around! Creative, fun, and whimsical portraits that capture my child's personality like no other photographer ever has!”) and Michelle EneboPhotography of Issaquah (“She is great at getting photos from reluctant kiddo participants”).
Maternity Clothing Store
When it comes to buying maternity clothes for your beautiful growing body, you were extremely clear: You’re not spending more than you have to on your outfits, but you still want to look good. You gave the thumbs up once again to the small-but-mighty Madison Valley consignment boutique Sugarlump, calling its well-edited variety of clothes for mamas-to-be “fashionable," all while praising its “largest selection of consignment” and “cool maternity clothes.”
Bump Urban Maternity Wear at Bellevue Square sells polished, dare we say sexy, new maternity jeans, tops, dresses and coats. “Adorable choices at great prices.”
In-Store Play Area
Winner: Tomato-Tomato Creative Space
When it comes to in-store play areas, you voted loud and clear forTomato-Tomato Creative Space,which offers “exceptional” arts and crafts classes for kids inside Renton’s Creative Mom Toys. Owner Kelly Affleck is a crafty, glitter-crazy mama who one voter calls “about the most creative person I’ve ever met.” If we were Kelly, we’d blush at the praise from our fans: “They have the most creative activities for kids!” and “Just the best there is.”
REI’sflagship Seattle store is popular, and not only because it’s where you go to gear up for outdoor fun with the kids. The store’s upper-level play area boasts a place for parents to sit, a World Wrapps right next door and a cool climbing structure. “Awesome tree fort but really, the whole store is a play area – the tents, climbing wall, etc.” You also give the nod to IKEA’s “safe” ball pit and play room (Renton), groovy Izilla Toys’ play area (Wallingford), the “great play area with books and a bathroom” inside modern kids’ furniture store tottini (South Lake Union), and Twirl Café’s treehouse and “quality toys.” (Queen Anne).
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