When you walk into Hip Baby in Kitsilano, you know you’ve entered something special. The 1,400 square foot store is colourful and inviting, with products attractively merchandised and free of the clutter found in so many children’s stores. It’s clear that careful thought has been put into the design of the store – the products easily flow from toys to diapering to feeding to sleeping and more.
Originally opened in 1995, Hip Baby changed hands in February 2009. “We walked in and could see the potential,” says Michael Ziff, who with his long-time business partner Jen MacCormack revamped the store, replacing most of the old product offering with sustainable and organic options that maintain practicality.
You won’t find strollers, cribs or high chairs here, but don’t equate Hip Baby’s boutique feel with “small.” The store has a surprisingly deep selection of brands and products – from the established Haba and Mother Ease to the local Sock Love and Padraig Cottage Slippers. Hip Baby also sells Fig, the duo’s own organic clothing line for children, and is the only retailer in Vancouver to offer Olli and Lime, the makers of one of Purl Mama’s top three sleep sack picks.
Hip Baby would like to break the increasingly “conservative mold of 4th Avenue,” according to Jen, who has witnessed the rise of more mainstream corporate chains in the area over the years and who uses words like “unique, local, Canadian” when describing Hip Baby.
Catering to the neighbourhood Kitsilano crowd and beyond, Michael thinks Hip Baby would appeal most to parents who are looking for “hip, modern baby clothing and products that are cool and sustainable with a design-minded aesthetic.”
As part of its vision for sustainability, Hip Baby offers the largest selection of cloth diapers in the city, giving customers the opportunity to touch and feel the different diaper brands, as well as get educated on what cloth diapering is all about. Hip Baby offers twice-monthly seminars on diapering at $20 per person or $30 per couple. Each person gets a $15 gift certificate toward a purchase of $100 worth of diapers – so for a couple intending to buy cloth diapers, the cost of the seminar pays for itself.
When I mention my husband’s apprehension to cloth diapering, Michael laughs, saying that most moms bring the dads to the seminars to show them how easy cloth diapers are. Granville Online recently posted a terrific article about Hip Baby’s cloth diapering seminars, which you can read here.
Michael and Jen plan on opening their online store in the next few weeks. Since Hip Baby offers more than cloth diapers, the team sees real potential for parents who want to buy diapers online, along with other items. The hope is not only to bring Hip Baby to Vancouver moms who can’t easily access the store, but also reach customers on an international level.
And why not? Hip Baby has what every urban family is looking for.
For more great photos of the store, check out Hip Baby’s blog.