A modern store and mom

At about 1:30 p.m., Stacey McDiarmid sat on her couch and began breastfeeding her four-month-old baby girl. Across a colourful, foamy, puzzle-piece floor, Tammy Ward sat playing with her toddler.

At about 1:30 p.m., Stacey McDiarmid sat on her couch and began breastfeeding her four-month-old baby girl.

Across a colourful, foamy, puzzle-piece floor, Tammy Ward sat playing with her toddler.

The two women chatted and tended to their kids like any stay-at-home moms would on a weekday afternoon.

But neither Ward nor McDiarmid are stay-at-home moms.

And that Wednesday afternoon scene wasn’t at either of the ladies’ homes.

It happened in the middle of one of Whitehorse’s newest stores.

McDiarmid opened Tots & Toddlers in Porter Creek a month ago, and the idea parents can come in and shop – while feeling just as relaxed as if they were in their own homes – was a goal from the start.

“I was looking to provide a nice, comfortable atmosphere for people to be able to shop and enjoy each other’s company,” she said. “A low-stress shopping experience for parents.

“I wanted somewhere where kids could play and parents could shop.”

As the mother of a two-and-a-half-year-old son and a four-month-old daughter, McDiarmid knows how hard it can be to find the time to get out and shop, and how stressful it can be bringing the kids along.

Her store provides a solution.

It is equipped with lots of safe space in which to play. And samples of most of the toys and children’s equipment are on the floor for kids to try out.

“Parker selects most of the products,” McDiarmid said of her son, laughing.

And it was Parker, and now baby Melia too, who really pushed McDiarmid to follow through on her children’s store idea.

“I really want to bring my kids to work with me,” she said. “I think it’s definitely a new day and age when you can bring your kids to work with you. And people are trying to find more things that they can do where their kids can be a part of their daily lives and not have to put them in childcare in order to be able to work.”

But even if that, “like-shopping-from-home” atmosphere doesn’t win her customers, McDiarmid is confident the wide variety of unique and affordable products will.

“There’s nowhere in town that you can really go to buy some of these things and by having it all in one place, parents can get their shopping done and not have to go to 10 different stores or shop online,” she said. “I want to be able to provide reasonably priced products so that people don’t have to shop outside of the territory.”

Tots & Toddlers has suppliers from all around the world, but McDiarmid tries to focus on Canadian-made goods, including sock monkeys from Alberta, Ontario’s hands-free tummy-time Tunzee’s, as seen on Dragon’s Den, Yukon-made diaper cakes and cupcakes (great baby shower gifts of diapers, wash cloths and other baby-needs twisted into pastry-looking packages), Dawson City’s own belly casting kits, McDiarmid’s own baby headbands and Ward’s homemade all-natural line of skin care products.

Ward’s larger company, Taiga Naturals, has a baby line named after toddler Autumn, who was shuffling around, playing with the toys in the store.

Ward’s baby products, available at McDiarmid’s store, include a teething oil both women swear by and a “happy cheeks bum balm.”

And like all good children’s stores, past the train sets and princess tutus, spiky (foam) dinosaur-shell backpacks, arts supplies, doll houses, kid-friendly dishes (including sippy cups and soothers), chair boosters (not booster seats, but an innovative boost for the actual chair) and car seat-stroller transformers, McDiarmid carries rows of new and used clothing.

Plus, all educational products are discounted for daycares and teachers, said McDiarmid.

But Tots & Toddlers isn’t just a store.

McDiarmid has offered up the space (which was formerly a daycare) for Whitehorse’s first breast-feeding support group.

“It’s a nice way for parents to get together, and it’s a nice big space: the kids can play and we can meet and have coffee,” she said. “I have several ladies that actually come in just to have coffee with each other.”

And like the Whitehorse Health Centre downtown, McDiarmid also provides bottle warming and diaper changing for people passing through.

“I always have spare diapers,” she said.

McDiarmid has extended the store’s hours from noon until 10 p.m. until Christmas and, on Saturday, December 10, Santa will be in the store offering specials and giveaways.

The store is located on Centennial Street beside the Green Garden Restaurant.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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