Two-year-old Alex, of Park Ridge, has to be the luckiest little boy in the world. After all, his mom, Rebecca Little, 34, spends the majority of her time shopping-which is why he's super trendy and super popular (he's got the best toys in town).
But Little-a freelance writer covering Chicago-area retail for the past seven years-has finally decided to share the wealth with her new blog, PinwheelChicago.com. Now all moms can figure out where to buy everything from a 2T tuxedo to a fabulous rocking chair.
What should Chicago-area parents expect from Pinwheel?
Pinwheel is a style, service and shopping guide for Chicago kids (and the people who shop for them). Postings can be a spotlight on a local store, or just one great product, or themed roundups (like the best robot-themed merch around). And every week, I post the upcoming baby, kid and maternity sales at local and national stores.
How did you think of this concept?
The idea first occurred to me last year. I am lucky to know all the best places to find gifts, toys, adorable clothes and resale threads for my own kid. The driving force behind the blog just came from wanting to be able to tell other parents, "Hey look at this, isn't it great?"
Why do we need this site in the Windy City?
Chicago has a unique boutique culture with a real emphasis on neighborhood mom-and-pops, and this has held strong despite the encroachment of chain stores. There are so many local shops that offer an inspired, well curated selection of baby and kid merchandise that are also, simply, just a pleasure to browse. ...My hope is that if I do the legwork and post great products from local merchants, or a sale that's too good to miss, that it will inspire people to check out the featured store the next time their kid needs something.
What about the store directory?
It took me nearly six months of driving around Chicagoland (as far south as Flossmoor, as far west as Geneva, as far north as Gurnee, and everything in between) to every baby, child and maternity store in the area. The result is more than 500 area stores listed across 18 categories. I did about half of the store visits with my son in tow, and that was a parenting adventure, but it also helped me to see how helpful and friendly local store owners can be when a toddler has officially had enough of his stroller.
How does your son influence Pinwheel?
He will be directly responsible for any "choo choo"-related coverage, as he is quite the train aficionado these days. But more often than not, he inspires ideas as he moves through each new phase of childhood. (His current growth spurt and tendency to spill every half hour has inspired an obsession with resale clothing.) And I've often let him wander around stores to see what catches his eye or handed him products to see how he reacts to them.
What's your favorite store to shop for kid stuff in Chicago?
Oh, there are so many. Twinkle Twinkle Little One (Roscoe Village) for baby gifts. My Sister Kate (Hinsdale) and Little Threads (Roscoe Village) for designer clothing. Oak Ridge Hobbies and Toys (Darien) for the wow factor. LeoLeno (Winnetka) for wooden toys. And I just can't resist a Threadless hoodsie.
Danielle Braff lives with her two daughters and husband in downtown Chicago.
See more of Danielle's stories here.