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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And now for something completely different...

No rants about business and saving the world today, friends!

Today's topic near and dear to the heart of any parent looking for ways to distract your child during that critical application of sunscreen prior to a school day...the AUDIO BOOK.

We have an agreement now. My son will not complain about the sunscreen application as long as I leave the audio book on. So, I stop the car, roll down my window (in case I accidentally lock the doors somehow!), keep the audio book playing, walk around to his side of the car and apply the sunscreen. No whining or the book is turned off! Finish application, unbuckle son, walk back around to driver's side, roll up window and THEN turn off the audio book. Whew! A whine-free sunscreen application!

If your kids are into the listening library, I have a few great ones to recommend. My son is 4 and would sit listening to anyone read to him all day long if he could, so you will have to judge your own child's preferences and choose what books are OK for his/her age.

You can get all of these audio books from the Marin Library.

#1 - First and foremost, the MOST popular series is "The Magic Tree House" by Mary Pope Osborne. There are somewhere between 35-45 of these books. My son loves them. Each story is about 45 minutes and contains magic and adventure. They feature a brother (Jack, around 10 years old) and sister (Annie, around 8 years old), each with personal strengths that help them excel at their adventures while helping one another.

When we recently visited an exhibit with photos of the 1906 earthquake survivor camps, I said, "Look at the tents people lived in after the 1906 earthquake destroyed San Francisco..." and he said, "No, mommy, the fire destroyed the city." Helllloooo Magic Tree House book about the 1906 eathquake!

#2 - "Mary Poppins" read by Sophie Thompson.

Sophie Thompson is the actress who plays the "spinster" Miss Burns in the 1996 version of "Emma" (starring Gwenyth Paltrow). She brings this lovely story full of magic and wonder to life! And if you have not read the book, you will be surprised at the differences between the literary Mary Poppins and the film version played by Julie Andrews.

#3 - Any of the books in the series "Stink" by Megan Mcdonald and Peter H. Reynolds. Be sure to get the version read by Nancy Cartwright. You might recognize her as the voice of Bart Simpson. These books are funny! Read with hilarious voices, for those of you with kids over 4, you will all be laughing in the car.

I should probably mention that the "Stink" books are written for kids probably over 6, and do refer to icky kid stuff like boogers. Don't listen to them if you don't want your kids to be exposed to such unseemly things :-)

#4 - Ramona (remember her?!) by Beverly Cleary read by the fabulous Stockard Channing (yes, you read that right!)

A favorite of mine long before they invented these newfangled audio things, I read all the Beverly Cleary books when I was a youngster.

We've listened to "Ramona the Pest" which takes place when Ramona is in Kindergarten, followed by "Ramona the Brave" which is her 1st grade adventure. Stockard Channing is a great reader, her Ramona is so lovable and Beezus so wise as the older sister. We now say, "Ramona, nobody likes a tattletale" exactly like Stockard Channing (you'll just have to listen to it to get the joke).

#5 - OK, from here on, I'm going to recommend a few audio books that I loved for YOU, the adult in your life.

The entire "Harry Potter" series, read by Jim Dale. FABULOUS! Jim Dale brings these books to life in a totally different way. Start at book 1 and enjoy the next 1,500 hours of your life.

#6 - The "His Dark Materials" trilogy ("The Golden Compass" book 1, "His Dark Materials" book 2, and "The Amber Spyglass" book 3) by Phillip Pullman, read by the author and a full cast of accomplished British actors.

This trilogy is a cult classic that I did not read. I listened to the audio books (twice over the years) and loved them. They are captivating and the story is compelling (albeit a bit far-fetched). DO NOT judge these books by that awful movie that came out a couple of years ago. It did not tell the story well. Uck!

#7 - (I promise this is the last one) If you are too tired to read a book and want to be lulled into a lovely dreamy sleep, listen to the audio books by Alexander McCall Smith about the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency." These books are read by Lisette Lecat. I have never read these bestsellers in the traditional book form, but the audio versions are like listening to a perfectly read poem. I'll wimp out on my own review because Publisher's Weekly said it better than I could:

"It was a shrewd idea to get the veteran actress and audiobook prize winner Lecat to perform this version of Smith's latest mystery starring the unforgettable Botswana detective Precious Ramotswe. Lecat is a native South African who grew up hearing the authentic accents of women just like Ramotswe, and she gives the character the perfect notes of a real person rather than slipping into caricature. Indeed, Lecat has as good an ear for the ethnic turf covered as the author does. She is also adept at making other female characters, such as assistant detective Grace Makutsi, different but immediately believable. It's Grace who has the title's passion for fancy footwear—in spite of her being a secret feminist afraid of letting her boyfriend know about her politics. Smith does mix in small measures of danger and mystery, but the overall feeling is one of a pleasant dream, of gentle wonder that such people can exist in a conflicted world. And Lecat is the perfect choice to read the story."

I could go on....seriously...but I won't.

If you are still reading this long long post, you are probably wondering how in the world I have time to listen to so many audio books, hmmm? Especially if you happen to know me...then you also know that I am a voracious reader.

I guess that's my little secret, huh!?

Post your favorite audio books here, I love recommendations!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Why we love and hate Target clothing!

Marin Kids Consignment can no longer accept Target brand clothing. Sigh. I hate to say it, I hate to write it, my vision was to be an equal opportunity seller! I wanted to resell play clothes, clothes that still have life in them, regardless of a little stain here and there!

Want to learn more about the consignment business? Then read on!

Want to remain "outside the sausage factory"? It's messy inside.

But here's the truth, the reason why no consignment store can accept Target brand clothes and why most can't accept Old Navy either. It's the shoppers who say "why should I pay $4 for this used when I can buy it new for $4?"

And, really, why should they? If you want to know my feelings, read the previous post on Old Navy clothes...

In this post, I'd just like to document the depressing truth, the fact that I can't afford the labor it takes to sell an item for $1-2! The cost of doing business won't allow it. And it truly bums me out! I see these cute clothes that I just can't afford to carry. The difference in making the numbers work is the difference between reselling Janie and Jack for $8 not selling Target for $2. So, here I go down the path of every other consignment business, the reality of it is the same reality that all businesses must face.

Cost of business vs. doing what is best for the environment.

I want to recycle it all!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My thoughts on reselling Old Navy clothes

As the mother of a son, I have always loved Old Navy boy clothes...they are by far the most interesting and edgy designs for boys without spending $30 for a designer tee shirt. I've shopped Old Navy online many many times.

I like to resell Old Navy items, too. I think they provide great value for the price you pay new. But in the years since I started buying Old Navy clothes new, here are 2 things I have learned:

1) Every single piece of clothing that Old Navy sells comes wrapped in a plastic bag. That's right, whether it comes to me from the online store or gets shipped first to a physical store and unwrapped by an Old Navy employee. Every item comes in a plastic bag that gets thrown away.

2) In the stores, Old Navy gets a hanger for every items of clothing. They do not reuse their hangers. They throw them away. Doubt that it is true? Go peek into the dumpster behind your local Old Navy and see for yourself.

By the way, it is not only Old Navy. Many many (most?) stores receive items in plastic AND toss their hangers.

Now, if you want to shop Old Navy for new items, please don't let me stop you! Without you, I won't have gently used items to resell. And if you can buy a brand new tee shirt for your child for $3-5, go for it. But if you buy a gently used tee shirt from Marin Kids Consignment for the same price, you get two things...

1) It is pre-washed many times to remove all the icky chemicals they put on the fabric. Less to irritate the skin.

2) More importantly, you can get the same cool clothes without it bothering your conscience as much. 

If I could, I would sell Old Navy stuff for $1...or better yet, just provide a clothing exchange where no money changes hands at all. But I have to cover the necessary items like tags and labor, and providing you with a nice, clean environment in which to shop. 

My other option is to follow what other consignment stores do...NOT accept Old Navy items because they can't charge their customers the bare minimum to cover their own costs!

Soooooo....I try to make costs meet in the middle by charging as little as I can for Old Navy items but also charging much less on the name brands like Janie and Jack or Gymboree. If you are interested in clothing exchanges, buying gently worn clothes, using less resources, driving less and polluting less, it is not all about the price...I hope to offer you all a place to reuse, even if you can buy the item straight off the boat for the same price. If you drive a Prius, you probably do so not just for the cost of the vehicle, but because you care in other ways about the environment and are trying to do your little part to save the earth. 

I think this post might be controversial, but I've said my piece...please comment here and say yours too!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Batman...fighting crime? Or public menace?

Some boys really want to be a Superhero... and who can blame them? 

It’s all crime fighting and saving the day, delivering the bad guys to Commissioner Gordon. 

I want to be 3.5 again when good and bad were so clearly defined. In Simon’s mind, bad = speeders and sneak thieves (from “Flat Stanley”).

Ode to the Onesie

They look so darling,
so small and so sweet.
With their little snaps
and little feet.

We wash them, we fold them,
we put them away.
We close up our drawers
for another day.

But lo and behold,
the new day has arrived,
we open our drawers
and they've multiplied!

For onesies are magic,
they seem to appear
from our friends who've outgrown them
in less than a year.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Marin Kids Consignment blog

Marin Kids Consignment is part of the modern world with a real web site and real blog!

Hi there, I am the owner of Marin Kids Consignment. My name is Melissa Hereford, I am a mom concerned with recycling kids clothes within our community.

Based on the amount of clothing on the racks and the 30 boxes of back stock that I have accumulated over only 2 months in business, I can say with certainty that no one should buy new clothing for their kids. After only 2 months of sales and accepting consignments, with very little advertising, I had to stop accepting new consignments (except for the largest sizes, 4-5-6). The largest quanity is within the 0-12 months clothing.

It amazes me how much stuff is out there. And it seems to me that many people GIVE their baby clothes to friends already. I did not buy anything for my son until he was 2. Friends were thrilled to have someone to pass their baby things on to. What else would you do with them? They last only a few months before they are outgrown.

So, my big question to this larger community is: how do we get the word out to first time parents? To let people know the incredible largess of gently worn items that I sell for $1, that do not use additional plastic wrapping and resources to produce and end up in the donation pile in less that a year?