Raising Wilshire

A blog about parenting and car-lite living in Los Angeles

Category: Lists

Buying Children’s Books in Santa Monica

This is a part of the “SaMo Parenting Guide”, an ongoing series where I talk about where I buy stuff for Wilshire.

I know that we lost our Barnes & Noble earlier this year.

But don’t fret. There are still several bookstores in within Santa Monica city limits that you can visit to pick out books for the young children in your lives. I have several favorites.

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These shoes are for walking (Santa Monica edition)

This is part of an ongoing series of resources tailored for parents of young children in Santa Monica.

So your kid has just started walking! It’s time to get shoes for your kid that are truly meant for walking.

I tried purchasing shoes for Wilshire online. In my experience, it has not been worth the additional hassle of returning shoes that do not fit or work out. It has been more efficient for me to take Wilshire shoe shopping in person.

Bonus: I have traveled to these places without driving.

Brooks Shoes for Kids. This is a full-service children’s shoe store located on Wilshire Blvd. and 17th Street. The staff is is highly knowledgeable about their inventory, which includes quality brands like Stride Rite, Nike, See Kai Run, Pediped, and Saucony. They also know how to coax cooperation out of young toddlers. To that end, do not do what I did, which was buy off the clearance rack; all shoes from there are final sale. If you purchase the shoes at full price (and most shoes are sold at MSRP), then you have a small return window.

1703 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-315-9898.
Accessible from Big Blue Bus 2, 41, and 42; Metro 720 (exit the bus on 14th St.)

Nordstrom (Santa Monica Place)
Comparable prices and brands to Brooks, but with the customer service you’d expect of Nordstrom including a more accommodating return policy. Also, Nordstrom will give your kid a helium balloon. Not a joke. Our kid walked out with a pair of shoes he loves and wears every single day.

220 Broadway, Santa Monica, 310-7552-2701.
Accessible by over 10 Big Blue Bus routes, Metro Expo Line, and 3 Metro Bus lines.

Gymboree
Gymboree has a small selection of inexpensive shoes.

395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica. 310-451-2751
Accessible by over 10 Big Blue Bus routes, Metro Expo Line, and 3 Metro Bus lines.

RIP to…

  • Lorin Shoes. They also carried a similar selection of brands as Brooks and Nordstrom and had the benefit of being right on the Promenade.

A primer to buying baby and toddler clothes on a budget (Santa Monica edition)

I’m going to let you in on a secret: Most of my kid’s clothes are secondhand. Some are hand-me-downs. The rest are from yard sales and clothing swaps in Santa Monica. Time is of the essence when doing stuff like this (clothing procurement). Let me save you time with these pointers.

Buying Secondhand

From the Mt. Olive sale in 2016.

Mt. Olive Lutheran Preschool fall rummage sale

Every fall, the preschool at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church hosts an epic rummage sale in their auditorium.  The doors open at 8am. Come armed with an IKEA bag or two so you can carry your finds. This is how I managed to stock up on enough clothes to get through the year. The Mt. Olive sale is the best place to score toys, clothes, shoes, kitchen knick knacks, and more.

Note, there is a separate multi-family yard sale in the spring (typically late April) at Mt. Olive. I have not been able to attend either.

Mt. Olive Lutheran Preschool is served by Big Blue Bus Route 8.

Santa Monica’s City Wide Yard Sale

Creative from the 2017 citywide yard sale

Every September, the City of Santa Monica’s Resource Recovery and Recycling  division (known internally at the City as R3)  organizes a city-wide yard sale. The City helps households people publicize sales through their website, email marketing lists, and ads in the local newspaper. They also make an interactive map available that allows you to hone in on locations selling things you might be interested in, such as kid stuff.

Hanging out at a yard sale on an early Saturday morning.

What’s so great about this is the incredible number of participants in our 8.8 square miles. You’re likely to find at least half a dozen sales to visit within walking distance.

The 2018 sale will be on September 15th. You’ve been given advanced notice!

Transportation: If you cannot get to the sale on foot, then it’s not really worth going to.

Who doesn’t like free?

This hot pink jacket belonged to another Santa Monica toddler before I found it at a clothing swap last fall.

Periodically, the Santa Monica Mom’s Club will host a clothing swap at a park in Santa Monica. You bring toys, baby doodads, and clothing your children have outgrown in a bag. They lay out tarps where you can sort your clothes by size. You then fill your bag with clothes in the next size up. That’s how I managed to find some play clothes for Will, plus this really terrific hot pink fleece jacket.

If you are a stay-at-home or part-time employed mom, you can join the chapter’s Facebook group. For the rest of us, follow me on Twitter!

Buying New

I try to find as much clothing as possible for my son secondhand because of cost and environmental considerations. I’m also a fan of buying my son clothes in person because more often than not, I’ve made mistakes with sizing when buying online – and it’s way more of a hassle, for me, to return something than to go where I can buy the clothing in person.

Gymboree in Santa Monica Place

The local shopping mall in Santa Monica is populated mostly by high-end stores, but there are two destinations for children. One is the Disney Store (I refuse to go inside). The other is Gymboree. Gymboree filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and closed hundreds of stores, but the one in Santa Monica Place still marches on.

My Yelp review is more on-point:
Read Sirinya M.‘s review of Gymboree on Yelp

Gymboree is served by Big Blue Bus routes 1, 2, 3, R3, 5, 7, R7, 9, R10, and 18.

TJ Maxx and Marshalls

Both carry items like toys, toddler’s kitchenware (think: Nuby and Phillips Avent bottles; Munchkin sippy cups; pacifiers; kid-sized plates and dishes, bibs), and lots of books. The prices are always a few dollars off what you would pay on Amazon. As is the case with all off-price retail, the fun in shopping at these places is the element of surprise in bargain hunting. But don’t be surprised if you go there looking for something very specific, and it’s not there.

TJ Maxx on Arizona Ave. at 4th Street: Served by all Big Blue Bus routes coming into downtown Santa Monica; Metro 704 and 720; Metro Expo Line.

Marshalls on Olympic Blvd. at Sawtelle Ave.: Big Blue Bus Routes 5 (Olympic Blvd.) and 17 (Sawtelle Ave.)

The Gap

Twinning!

Not cheap – but also, totally worth the money for items that will get heavy use, like coats and play clothes. There is one within walking distance of my house, on Wilshire Blvd. and 20th Street.

The Gap on Wilshire at 20th St is served by Big Blue Bus Routes 2, 41, and 42.

Honorable Mentions

Costco. They carry Carter’s and Little Me, brands that are both well-regarded by Baby Bargains. I picked up a set of pajamas for Wilshire last weekend for about $10.

Carter’s. Their clothes are well-made and withstand the wear-and-tear of an active toddler. The closest Carter’s to Santa Monica is on Sepulveda Blvd. in Culver City. There is also a Carter’s now open inside Crenshaw Plaza, which is about a 10 minute walk from the Crenshaw Expo station.

 

 

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