Since opening my shop doors 2 years ago, I have been pleased to see many more cloth nappy shops either in the pipeline or opening up and down the UK.
As many of you know, the main driver in my opening Loving by Nature was to spread the word about reusable nappies and to provide accessible advice for anyone wanting to make the switch.
I can’t claim to be the first cloth nappy shop to open though. Nappy Ever After in Hackney and Plush Pants in Oxford have been open for a number of years, as well as Naturally Baby in Leamington Spa – and there have always been small stores stocking one or two cloth nappy brands over the years although it may not have been their main focus.
The reason I think that we need more bricks and mortar real nappy shops in the country is simple. Whilst online retail is brilliant, immediate and accessible, I truly believe that if we want reusable nappies to become mainstream, we need to be able to see them up close, in the flesh, in real life stores across our towns and cities.
This isn’t to say that using cloth is complicated, but there is no denying that when faced with all the options online, as a new parent it can be dizzying and confusing without being able to see how things work in real life. I personally am a very touchy-feely person, and always feel nervous before clicking ‘buy’ on an online purchase when I haven’t any experience of the products beforehand. With something as seemingly alien as cloth nappies, this can seem all the more risky.
With a physical premises, we are able to open our doors to anyone passing by, which also means that people that weren’t necessarily looking to reuse might find us, too. This is vital if we are to break through the barriers of what is considered ‘normal’ and get real nappies on more bums across the country. At the moment, if you want to use real nappies, which thankfully more and more people do, you need to be quite active and determined in seeking out the sources online, researching and finding groups that you can attend for advice.
It has been great to see many supermarkets jumping on board and stocking some popular brands recently, too. But whilst a massive supermarket might be able to give you knock down prices that a small shop never could, what you cant get from the supermarket is specialised, informed advice from someone truly passionate and experienced in what they are talking about. Which means that someone buying their first nappies from a supermarket may end up ditching the idea if they find they don’t get on with the particular brand they’ve managed to bag. So whilst this is a fantastic step in the right direction, I would still (of course) urge you to support your local, independent distributor too.
What you also get is the opportunity to return if something isn’t working for you, get more tailored advice and keep learning as you go, as well as becoming a part of your local cloth nappy community, should you wish.
Cloth nappy focussed shops are still a rarity, although with the soon to open Friendly Eco in Bristol, the Real Nappy Café in London and The Nappy Workshop in Surrey, and more and more popping up at markets and events around the country, I am hopeful that sometime in the near future we may have one in every town – I would love to open more myself!
That said, it is not an easy gig, reusable nappies are no cash cow and I can assure you that anyone doing this is doing it for the passion, because they truly believe in the need for it, not because they want to make their millions. If we can make enough to keep a roof over our heads, we’re happy. So please, do get out there and support us! Even if you are past the nappy stage, or if its just not your thing, there may be something else you can pick up in store that will help us pay the rent, cover our overheads and keep providing a service to our community.
…If you are thinking of opening a store, get in touch, lets be create a network of real nappy shops across the UK!