Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Coming Soon: Babies the Movie

This looks totally cool.



Thanks to our friends at Happy Bambino for the link!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rediscovering a great toy

Sometimes your child will find a toy you bought several years ago and start playing with it all over again like a newfound treasure. At 5, he might see a toy with different eyes and a different set of questions than he did when he was 3. Having a good selection of quailty toys around the house (which requires fewer toys than you might think) helps create an enriching environment that resonates more than a whole lot more plastic battery operated toys can. I thought of this when Duncan rediscovered his spinning top and found a new fascination with it this morning. -dan



Friday, November 20, 2009

Announcing the Peapods "Black Friday" Sidewalk Sale

In honor of our unseasonably warm weather, we announce our first ever "July in Christmas" Sidewalk Sale. It'll be only on November 27th and 28th from 10am to 6pm (no need to get up early!)

We'll be offering 40% off on select merchandise--overstock toys, games, shoes, and more!

Extended Hours
Also, as in past years, we will be open on Sundays from 12-4 through the holidays.


Product Availability
we want to let you know that this has been a somewhat different year for us and many of our vendors. For a variety of reasons, many of our most popular toys will be in shorter supply this year. We encourage you to shop early this year for the best selection.

Thanks again for your continued support! We wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

Note: if winter actually arrives during the sale, we'll move it inside!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hand turned wooden tops

New in store: hand turned wooden tops made in Minnesota. No two are alike. $5 each.




Sunday, November 8, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Introducing the BumGenius Flip Diapering System

Brand new item: The Bum Genius Flip Diapering system.

Essentially, this is a one-size fits all cloth diaper cover that comes with an adjustable fleece/microfiber insert. There's no pocket to stuff, and the flip cover will work with other cloth inserts like DSQ prefolds.

And, there's also a disposable Flip insert, which is similar to the gDiapers inserts we used to sell. It's great for travel--toss the insert and reuse the cover. These inserts can also be used with our other velcro or snap covers.

The BumGenius Flip system is available now as a single pack or a day pack. Enjoy--and let us know what you think!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Disney Gets Smart

In the news today, Disney admitted that their Baby Einstein videos don't actually make kids smarter and are offering a refund to anyone who bought one.

This seems a bit obvious, perhaps. Einstein himself didn't watch them when he was a kid, did he?

What does make kids smarter? According to this piece in the NY Times, "Parents and other caregivers teach young children by paying attention and interacting with them naturally and, most of all, by just allowing them to play."

Play. Makes you smart. Huh.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

H1N1 and Seasonal Flu Vaccines contain thimerosal

As concern rises over this year's flu season, we'd like to point out that both the seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 vaccine may contain thimerosal, which is made with the neurotoxin Mercury. The CDC explains:

Will the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine contain thimerosal?
The 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccines that FDA is licensing (approving) will be manufactured in several formulations. Some will come in multi-dose vials and will contain thimerosal as a preservative. Multi-dose vials of seasonal influenza vaccine also contain thimerosal to prevent potential contamination after the vial is opened.

Some vaccine manufacturers will be producing 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine in single-dose units, which will not require the use of thimerosal as a preservative. In addition, the live-attenuated version of the vaccine, which is administered intranasally (through the nose), is produced in single-units and will not contain thimerosal.

We believe that thimerosal is responsible in whole or in part for causing autism and other diseases linked with the immune system. Whether or not you agree, we would encourage you to ask your doctor whether their flu or H1N1 vaccine contains thimerosal before getting the shot.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Why we are closing out on SIGG Bottles

We have always loved SIGG water bottles for our family and loved to sell them in our store. They're great looking, fun, and easy to use.

But, as you may have heard, it turns out that SIGG has been misleading all of us about the nature of the liner in their aluminum water bottles. They told us that their liner "did not have BPA", otherwise known as Bisphenol-A, a common plastic additive that's been identified as a human endocrine disruptor. What they meant, it turns out, was that their liner had been shown not leach BPA in lab tests, but it did in fact contain a small amount of BPA until SIGG implemented a new liner technology about a year ago.

We do believe that both the old and new versions of SIGG bottles are very safe and we have no reason to doubt SIGG's independent lab report showing that no BPA leaches from their old liners. We are continuing to use our old SIGG bottles in our family.
However, we no longer trust or respect SIGG. They lied to us and many other retailers, which caused us to unintentionally mislead our customers. For that reason, we are discontinuing our relationship with SIGG and are closing out all our stock (all of which have the new liners.)

We continue to stock many great alternatives, including Kleen Kanteen and Crocodile Creek stainless steel bottles.

If you have an older SIGG bottle, SIGG is offering an exchange program which requires you to mail your bottle to SIGG. Since we are discontinuing our SIGG altogether, we are not able to exchange them in the store.

As a store, we apologize for passing SIGG's misinformation along to you, our customers.

Update 11/5/09: Our understanding is that SIGG ended their exchange program on 10/31/09.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Press Release: Peapods and the Handmade Toy Alliance react to testing exemption for Mattel


St. Paul, MN – September 1, 2009 – The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) continues to issue important guidance on several key areas of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which was passed by Congress in August 2008 and requires all children's products to be tested for safety by third party laboratories. Except, it turns out, for toys made by Mattel, the world's largest toymaker, who has recalled 12.7 million toys for safety hazards or lead paint since 2007.

The CPSC granted Mattel permission to operate "firewalled" in-house testing facilities instead of paying third party laboratories for performing required toy safety testing. Although such in-house testing facilities are allowed under the CPSIA (due to Mattel's heavy lobbying in 2008), only very large manufacturers can meet the requirements set forth in the law. Smaller manufacturers, including the members of the Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA), must pay third party labs for testing services ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars per item.

“We are concerned that this is just another example of the fox guarding the hen house,” wrote Consumer Reports. Members of the Handmade Toy Alliance couldn't agree more. “Mattel is one of just a few companies that caused all the panic over toy recalls back in 2007,” said Dan Marshall, Vice President of the HTA and co-owner of Peapods Natural Toys (MN). “While the provisions of the CPSIA are causing hardship for hundreds of smaller companies with impeccable safety records, Mattel has been allowed to bring their testing back in house with only a promise that they will not have continued lapses in product safety.”

“This really makes me crazy,” said Jill Chuckas, Secretary of the HTA and owner of Crafty Baby (CT). “This law is nearly impossible for small businesses like mine, but Mattel gets let off the hook. How is that fair?” Mattel's stock has risen 33% in the first six months since major provisions of the CPSIA came into effect on February 10, 2009.

The Handmade Toy Alliance again calls to Congress to amend the CPSIA to make it fairer for small businesses by allowing the CPSC to apply risk analysis to mediate the costs of compliance without sacrificing safety. Small businesses should not be punished for Mattel's mistakes.

Although the CPSC has recently defined a list of materials that are not expected to be contaminated by lead, many materials still require testing. “It's fine to exempt wood, fabric, and paper from testing,” said Cecilia Leibovitz, President of the HTA and owner of Craftsbury Kids (VT). “But as soon as you attach a nail, zipper, button, hinge, or a coat of paint, we're back to having to pay for testing. Most of our members are still very much struggling with this law.”

The Handmade Toy Alliance is a grassroots alliance of 382 retail stores, toymakers and children's product manufacturers from across the country, who want to preserve consumer access to unique handmade toys, clothes and all manner of small batch children's goods in the USA. Formed in November of 2008 in response to the CPSIA, HTA members are parents, grandparents and consumers who are passionate about their businesses as well as the safety of the children in their lives. While in support of the spirit of the law, the unintended consequences of the CPSIA have motivated members of the HTA to work to enact change at a federal level.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Our Fall See Kai Run Shoes Are Here!

Here's a view from our back room. Our shelves are packed with cute little shoes!




Sunday, August 23, 2009

Happy Tomato Season!


Yikes--we're suddenly having a bountiful tomato season. Hope your garden's doing well, too!

Friday, July 31, 2009

New in Store: Kidishes Tempered Glass Dishes

Finally! Glass dishes that won't leach chemicals, won't smash when dropped, and won't break your budget. Find 'em in our store and online.



Earth Hangs in the Balance! Buy Local!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Our perspective on health insurance reform

We have been observing the ongoing debate over health insurance reform for quite a while, and it seems to be coming to some sort of complicated conclusion. Or maybe just a new convoluted beginning. We're definitely confused about the different proposals competing against each other, but there's one thing we're certain of. Something needs to change.

From our perspective as small business owners, health insurance for our family has always been a problem. Millie has Type I Diabetes, which means no insurance company will insure us. When individuals apply for health insurance, they're only accepted if there are no pre-existing conditions and diabetes is a deal breaker.

So, we've been participating in Minnesota's health insurance plan of last resort, called the Minnesota Comprehensive plan, which is a subsidized plan for "uninsurable" people like us. For our family of five, it costs us about $1,100 a month. Our deductible is $1,000 for each of us, which means we always have to think twice, sometimes three times, before visiting urgent care or making a doctor appointment. Most years, only Millie ever gets past the deductible. One time, when we took Duncan to the ER, the insurance coordinator at the hospital said "wow--that's really crappy insurance." "Yes," we said. "We know." Offering health insurance to all our employees is not an option, because Millie, with her diabetes, would set the rates for the whole group sky high.

When Obama talked about offering a "public option" during the campaign, we thought that sounded great. Frankly, we'd also support single payer, although that doesn't even seem to be on the table. We're not even sure--what is on the table? All we keep hearing is that some compromise plan which may or may not help us may or may not make it through congress.

We've been chomping at the bit for health care reform since Hillary Clinton. In any case, we're sure that our situation is not unique and we know that many people decide not to start small businesses precisely because of how expensive health insurance can be. Almost anything would be better than the current system.

We've heard more people talking about how the health insurance problem affects small businesses. Our friends at the Birchwood Cafe recently held a press conference about how their business is impacted, too. We agree entirely with their point of view and we call on Congress to do something now to fix this problem.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hey--we're Twittering...Um, Tweeting

Yep, Peapods is now on Twitter! Follow us for in-the-moment flashes of inspiration, new product alerts, local news for parents, and whatever else crosses our minds. See twitter.com/peapods_mn .

For those keeping score at home, this mean that we now have:
1) A store.
2) A Website.
3) A Blog (you are here).
4) A Facebook Page.
5) A Twitter account.

All different! All fun! All a bit much, perhaps.

Enjoy.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Linker Logs Open Source Toys

From Dan: These are so cool! LinkerLogs open-source toys. If you happen to own a woodworking gizmo called a ShopBot, you can fabricate this building toy using a free file. It's the Linux model applied to wood toys!


Monday, June 22, 2009

Mary's Soft Dough, Made in Oregon

On our recent vacation, we paid a visit to Mary Newell, owner of
Mary's Soft Dough in the wonderful town of Eugene, Oregon. We'd met
Mary through our work with the Handmade Toy Alliance, so we dropped in
to say hi.

Mary invited us into her shop and Abby, Riley, and Duncan got to help
her make a batch of dough. Then we rolled it out and used cookie
cutters to portion it into containers. The dough is made out of 100%
food ingredients like flour and salt and it doesn't have that weird
"play doh" smell. She gave us samples that we played with for the rest
of our trip.

We were so impressed with Mary and her dough that we ordered a bunch
up for the store--you'll find it in our arts & crafts section. We
think you'll love it, too.

And thanks again to Mary for the memorable experience!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Peapods Sidewalk Sale June 26-27

Peapods Sidewalk Sale

Don't miss our awesome, spectacular, irresistible, sensational, once-a-year Sidewalk Sale! June 26 and 27, 10am to 6pm. Closeouts, scratch 'n dents, discontinued items, samples and questionable ideas all marked 25-75% off.

We do recommend leaving small children at home for at least the first few hours of this event--there's always a lot of people and Snelling Avenue is a busy street. See you there!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

ASTRA Toy Store Convention in St Paul


If you happened to be in our store yesterday afternoon, you might have been pretty surprised when a tour bus pulled up and 50 people came into our store. What the heck was that? Well, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is having its annual convention here in St. Paul and we were on the local store tour. Basically, these were toy store owners from across the country who've all come to town to talk shop for a couple of days. It was great to show off our store to so many like-minded folks, but it feels even better to be showing off St. Paul, which looks pretty darn good in the month of June, doesn't it?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Let the Children Run Free

If you're on our mailing list, our annual newsletter should be arriving soon. If not, you can read it online, too. The following is one of the articles we wrote, which is about the free range kids movement.


(Duncan in Berkely, CA)

Our daughter Abby became a teenager a few months ago—it’s hard for us to believe that our little “Peapod” has become a young woman. And, we’ve been thinking about what we did at her age and how uncomfortable we would be with those things now.

Dan at thirteen often took the bus downtown and spent the day exploring skyways and record stores. Millie gathered signatures against nuclear weapons in Uptown for INFACT. Somehow, both of these activities in this day and age fills us with fear.

In this day and age? Who are we kidding? Why would we be more scared now of our daughter being out in the world than when we were hanging out in City Center or Lake & Hennepin? A generation of fear has blunted our instincts and caused us to trust our children less. Two decades of media saturation about the dangers of the world have left us struggling to reconcile our childhoods with our parenting.

Lately, we’ve come to recognize that if we want to raise strong, capable, self-actualized children, we need to overcome these fears. Thankfully, Lenore Skenazy’s Free Range Kids movement (freerangekids.wordpress.com) is leading the way. Lenore’s journey began when she wrote about letting her nine year old son Izzy ride the NYC subway on his own. In doing so, she tapped into the humongous schism that’s grown between reason and fear in the minds of every parent today. “Somehow,” she writes, “a whole lot of parents are just convinced that nothing outside the home is safe. At the same time, they’re also convinced that their children are helpless to fend for themselves. While most of these parents walked to school as kids, or hiked the woods — or even took public transportation — they can’t imagine their own offspring doing the same thing.”

In her new book, Lenore takes on all the crazy things we do as parents because of fear, not the least of which are the ridiculous safety products that use fear to make a buck. We’ve seen loads of these—knee pads for crawling toddlers, GPS tracking devices, marionette-like harnesses for learning to walk, helmets to cushion falls, and “glovies” to keep germs off little hands. All of these products not only deny a half million years of human evolution, but also plant in our children an insidious, damaging message: You are not fit for this world. You need constant protection. Be afraid.

As parents, we know it’s a constant struggle between our instincts to protect and to create
healthy, capable children. Unlike birds, there is no single moment when our children fly from the nest—it’s something that happens every day in a thousand tiny steps. What’s important is what’s between our ears each time our children take a step out into the world. Do we inveigh a sense of fear or trust? We’re hardly perfect, but we’re bending our minds toward trust.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Introducing Lumberjack Logs - Made in Minnesota


We are proud to present Lumberjack Logs, a brand new toy that's made right here in Minnesota from solid maple. We're the first toy store to have them and we even got a chance to work with the toymakers to develop them.

We like these a lot because they're audaciously big and the finished structure is extremely stable. The roof is held in place with a notched roof beam that keeps it from tipping over and the second story has a floor made out of maple slats.

What that means is that building the structure is only half the fun. Once it's built, you can play with it with dollhouse dolls, toy horses, toy furniture, etc. The play value of these toys is tremendous.

Available as either a cabin or a barn, Lumberjack Logs are available now in our store. In fact, we have the cabin set up and ready to play with. Stop in and let us know what you think.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NYTimes Conversation on Women & Breastfeeding

Hanna Rosin, left, of The Atlantic (perhaps you've heard about her article in the April Atlantic) and Ruth Lawrence of the University of Rochester School of Medicine, a longtime breastfeeding advocate, discuss what breast-feeding means for nursing mothers. (Follow the link at the bottom of the page to continue the video when it stops.)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Handmade Toy Alliance Testimony in Washington, DC

Testimony on April 1 at the capitol in Washington DC by Cecilia Leibovitz and Jill Chuckas, two of our co-conspirators at the Handmade Toy Alliance.




Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Our trip to St. Louis

We just returned from a week in St. Louis visiting friends. If you've never been there, you should take your kids to the City Museum in downtown St. Louis. This was our third visit and we had a blast. There's no other children's museum like it. Here's some pictures.





Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Peapods on Facebook

The facebook generation caught up with us! Yes, we now have a facebook page. We've posted a bunch of pictures from the past 10 years. We're also posting links to other pages, upcoming events, and articles we like.

So, take a look at our page and let us know what you think. -- Dan and Millie

Friday, February 13, 2009

Our letter in support of banning BPA in baby bottles in Minnesota

Here's a copy of our letter in support of removing BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups in Minnesota, an action currently under consideration in the state legislature.

February 13, 2009

To: Deanna White
Healthy Legacy
308 E. Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Re: Minnesota Bisphenol-A Legislation

Dear Deanna White,

Thank you again for meeting with us this week. We appreciate Healthy Legacy's work on promoting safer alternatives for children's products. We have been intimately involved as a business in the same initiative for over 10 years and agree that much work remains to be done.

As we stated, we are very concerned about the effect of product safety regulations on small businesses. The survival of our business and the hundreds of small companies we buy from has been severely threatened by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which became federal law last August. We view it as an overly broad measure which unfairly hurts small manufacturers while forcing the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to focus on dozens of product types which represent little threat to health while ignoring high-risk products.

It is our goal to reform this law to make it more focused and effective and to preserve small businesses. To that end, we helped create the Handmade Toy Alliance and have been working closely with the CPSC and Senator Klobuchar's office to advocate for common-sense rules that will improve the CPSIA.

As for legislative initiatives in Minnesota, we would like to express our support for eliminating BPA from baby bottles, children's sippy cups, and infant formula cans. The dangers of BPA have been known for many years and several alternatives are now widely available. We feel there is no reason why BPA bottles and cups should remain in the marketplace. In fact, we have seen a dramatic increase in BPA-free cups and bottles at large retailers. Wal-Mart has even announced that they will be discontinuing BPA-based products.

Although we would prefer a federal ban instead of a myriad of state laws, we recognize the role that Minnesota can play in accelerating consideration of a federal ban by passing this law now. Keep in mind, though, that banning BPA in bottles and cups while continuing to allow it in canned goods and food storage containers only solves a small part of the overall problem.

We are not in favor of requiring third-party testing in order to prove compliance with a BPA ban. The state may conduct random audits to assure compliance, but mandatory third party testing will be disproportionately detrimental to small businesses, which is precisely the effect we've seen with the CPSIA.

Thank you again for soliciting our input on these important issues. We wish to stress again that we are very engaged with these issues, both as parents and business owners. Our goal has always been to provide safe and affordable alternatives to synthetic and disposable products. We look forward to working with you further to pursue these goals.

Sincerely,

Millie Adelsheim and Dan Marshall
Peapods Natural Toys & Baby Care

Saturday, January 31, 2009

CPSC Issues Stay of Enforcement

Late yesterday afternoon, the CPSC issued a one-year stay of enforcement, which means our small manufacturers will have a another year to figure out how to comply with the CPSIA, Congress will have a year to fix many of its problems, and the CPSC will have a year to complete its rulemaking and issue exemptions.

Basically, the CPSC agreed with us that we should stop the car for a while before we try to change the tires.

Strangely, Thomas Moore, one of the two CPSC commissioners who voted for the stay, said his vote was in response to "an aggressive misinformation campaign" from bloggers and work at home crafters. The only misinformation we know about is that Congress and the CPSC were misinformed about the impact this sweeping law would have on small businesses.

Nonetheless, we are very thankful that we have been given a reprieve and a chance to work to get this law fixed before small businesses start losing their livelihoods.

Thanks to Senator Klobuchar

Senator Klobuchar has issued a very supportive letter to the CPSC that calls for many of the reforms that we have been calling for. Members of the Handmade Toy Alliance have been working with lawmakers across the country and many have gone on record to argue for changes to the CPSIA to save small businesses, but many others are still replying via form letters. I haven't spoken with any of these other lawmakers, but I feel that Klobuchar's office was really remarkable in their willingness to listen to our concerns and to engage in a process to fix the law's unintended consequences.

A great deal of work remains to be done, but I think all Minnesotans can be proud to have a Senator that listens to her constituents.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Our long campaign

From Dan: It's now been about a month and a half since we helped form the Handmade Toy Alliance in an effort to save the dozens of small companies that we buy stuff from. I've learned a lot in that time, most of it incredibly humbling.

First, I've learned that there are a lot more people making toys and children's products in the US than I ever would have dreamed of. I wrote last year in this blog that there is no one making dolls in the USA anymore, and I have learned that this is not true.

We are really at the start of a renaissance of manufacturing in this country, with hundreds of people making stuff in their living rooms and basements and selling it on the internet. It shouldn't surprise me so much, since that's basically how we started our business, but it has. I only hope we can fix this law before all that energy gets squashed.

Second, I've learned that it is true that a small group of dedicated people can make a difference. In early December, all our calls to Congress went unanswered and the CPSC ignored us. But, working from one member to the next, one blog to the next, one reporter to the next, we've finally gotten the attention of Congress and the CPSC, which has begun issuing guidance to make the CPSIA less burdensome to small businesses.

I've been talking to too many media folks, from the LA Times to CNN to Oregon Public Radio, which is way beyond my comfort level. Others in the Alliance have been quoted in the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Wall Street Journal, amoung many others. The story is easy to tell: why should these tiny manufacturers suffer because of the sins of Mattel and Thomas the Tank Engine?

We're not there yet, not by a long shot, but we have found hope in this month and a half. I'm not sure it's audacious hope, but it feels better than despair. The truth is that the reason I'm working so hard on this is that it's the only way for me not to get totally depressed about the situation. We'll know we've succeeded when every one of our suppliers and every member of the Handmade Toy Alliance can say yes, I can comply with the law and I can remain in business.

And, along the way, I've met some really wonderful and talented people that I never would have had a chance to meet otherwise. People like us who believe in sustainable, quality goods for children.

Thanks again to those people and to all of our customers who have expressed their support. Best wishes,
Dan

Monday, January 5, 2009

Please Vote Now to Save Handmade Children's Goods

Our cause to save handmade toys from the devastating impact of the CPSIA needs your vote today! Please vote before January 15 to make sure we get national attention. Visit www.handmadetoyalliance.org for more info.