“I know it’s weird and I get weird looks when I smell the clothes, but it’s what the customers are going to do anyway,” Hemenway said. “I don’t want to sell something that smells like it’s been in your garage for five years. It needs to look and feel brand new.”
Along with scent, Hemenway also checks to make sure there are no stains, missing buttons or faulty zippers on items people try to sell through her store, which opened in July. But Tummies to Tots is more than a clothing store. It’s a one-stop shop for helping families get through those early years. Hemenway sells everything from cribs and car seats to books and educational toys.
Customer Kaila Cutshaw of Brentwood said she’s excited to have a consignment shop close to home where she can shop for her 11-month-old Myles. “I’m so glad this place is finally open. I’ve been waiting very patiently to shop here. And I really appreciate that the owner has such an attention to detail. It’s so important to provide your children with safe and sanitized things, so as a parent, I’m really happy that she has such a strict clean policy.”
Hemenway got the idea for Tummies to Tots two years ago when one of her girlfriends discovered she was pregnant and asked about consignment shops that catered to expectant mothers and their offspring. Hemenway knew of only a few and none of them were in far East County, so she did some research and decided to bring a consignment shop to Brentwood.
“The closest shops were in Walnut Creek and Lafayette, and driving all that way can end up taking up your whole day, and families can’t afford to do that – especially now,” Hemenway said. “Plus, kids’ clothes become expensive because they’re constantly outgrowing their clothes, and you have to buy more. When I go out to get out my winter clothes this season, the clothes from last year are still going to fit me. That won’t be the case for my 4-year old.”
While families are tightening their belts and watching their budgets, dressing their children remains a priority, and there’s no way around the need to find new clothes that fit children comfortably.
“Kids need clothes. That’s all there is to it,” Hemenway said. “There is so much life left in these clothes since kids get to wear them for only a short period of time, so it’s like buying them brand new – but you get it at such a great price. Plus, you are supporting your community by shopping locally and buying from people in your community.”
Hemenway sells maternity clothes as well as clothes for children up to age 6. Since kids can grow fast, many of the items Hemenway brings in still have the tags on them – the original owner grew too big to wear them even once. Items sold at Tummies to Tots are 50 to 75 percent off the retail value, and when that involves name brands such as Gap, Gymboree and Carter’s, those savings are huge.
Hemenway already has a wait list of people hoping to sell their used items. While she has plenty of clothes to sell, she’s always in need of furniture such as high chairs and car seats. To get on the wait list, Hemenway asks potential consigners to come in to meet with her first at the shop and then she’ll alert them by e-mail when she has room on the floor for specific items.
Tummies to Tots, located at 3860 Balfour Road, Suite A, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit www.tummiestototsofbrentwood.com or call 925-513-6556.