Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to Make Potholders

Happy Holidays! Hopefully this video inspires some winter potholder weaving! We have basic and deluxe potholder looms in stock, all made in the USA. Makes a great gift for ages 6+.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our Best Holiday Gift Ideas

We've seen lots of toy lists this year, from best to worst and even a bit unwired. So, we'd like to add some of our favorites.

Our guiding principle for selecting all the toys in our store is play value. We ask, how much will your child enjoy playing with this toy compared with

what it cost? Our observation from 15 years of parenting is that the toys that kids play with most are the simplest--toys that require kids to invest their own imagination instead of just responding to a pre-programmed microchip. The one toy in our store with the most play value is probably our BEKA Unit Blocks, which have been a part of our kids' play from the age of 1 through 12 and beyond.

So, with play value in mind, here's our list of favorites for 2011!

  • Green Toys Vehicles - these tough trucks are safe for toddlers and perfect for big kids! They'll hold up to hours of sandbox play and are made in the USA from recycled milk bottles. We're particularily fond of their brand new School Bus!Grow Up Transformable Toy
  • The Grow Up Transformable Wooden Ride On & Cart - These just arrived! This brilliantly designed toy transforms from a toddler push cart into a cargo-carrying ride on and then into big kid shopping cart. A great value that's three toys in one!

  • Nuchi Wooden Train Sets - These back to basics wooden trains don't blink or beep or talk but Rody Ride-on Toysthey're capture your child's imagination nonetheless.

  • Rody Ride on Toys - Made in Italy, these are perfect for indoor gross motor play during these long winter months!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shop Home for the Holidays this Saturday - Saint Anthony Park at its Finest!

Kick of the Holiday season with some charm and delight and visit our neighborhood at its finest! This Saturday December 3, join the fun in South St. Anthony Park along Raymond Avenue and in North St. Anthony Park all along Como.

In addition to a wonderfully festive and endearing holiday atmosphere, planned events include:

And, when you spend $50 total at of the above Saint Anthony Park merchants or here at Peapods, the Bibelot, or Finnish Bistro, stop by Serendipity Flowers in Milton Square for a free coffee mug and enter to win a Holiday basket of prizes from all of our local businesses. (Click here for a full list of merchants)

So, bring your family and visit Saint Anthony Park this Saturday and help us cheer in the season! We can't promise snow, but we can promise a lot of festive Holiday fun!

Monday, November 21, 2011

We're Making "Black Friday" Less Blechy! (And More Neighborly!)

More and more people are wondering why we have this thing called "Black Friday", which is now creeping back through the early morning hours and into Thanksgiving itself. Why get up early and fight huge crowds when you can have stress-free fun shopping at your favorite locally-owned indie shops? Skip the big boxes and have some fun instead!

We had a fabulous time last year with our Black Friday celebration and we're doing it again even bigger this year! No need to get up early—just stop by during our normal hours for a cup of hot cider. And, with a purchase over $30, you can draw an instant-win prize from our Black Friday fishbowl. You’ll draw one of the following fabulous prizes:

  • $5 Peapods Gift Card
  • $20 Peapods Gift Card (at least 4 available in the fish bowl!)
  • $50 Peapods Gift Card (one of these in the bowl)
  • $20 Gift Certificate to our neighbor Micawber's Book Store (2 available)
  • $20 Gift Certificate to our neighbor the Little Wine Shop (1 available)
  • $20 Gift Certificate to our neighbor The Bibelot (1 available)
  • Beka Construction Site Toy valued at $120 (made in Minnesota)
  • Haba Technics Building Blocks Set valued at $70
  • Swaddle Designs Swaddling Blanket Gift Pack valued at $38
  • A bunch of other prizes including Kid's Chapter Books from Micawber's, Kathe Kruse baby toys, a Ravensburger puzzle, and a fleece-line Urban Baby Bonnet
Plus, we'll have a bunch of great stuff on sale!
  • Baby K'Tan Baby Carriers 20% off
  • Econobum single packs from BumGenius will be Buy One, Get One Free
  • BumGenius 4.0 Pocket Diapers will be Buy 5, Get 1 Free
  • FuzziBunz One Size Pocket Diapers (not the new Elite style) will be %30 off
  • BabyLegs 3-Packs will be $19.99 (Regular price $36)
  • Kallisto Organic Stuffed Animals Made in Germany (absolutely lovely!) will be $29.99 (limited supplies; regular retail $60-$70)
  • Rockin' Green Detergent's brand new SECRET HOLIDAY SCENT will be $11.99 for Classic Rock and $12.99 for Hard Rock (Normally $14.99/$15.99)
  • Grovia: Buy 2 Grovia Shells and get 1 free
  • Ergo Baby Carriers: Get a free infant insert with each Ergo Purchase
But wait, there's more!
Our Holiday Rewards Program continues! Through the end of the year, our rewards program is for everything in the store, not just cloth diapers! Earn a $15 store credit when you spend $200 on anything in the store before 12/31.

And finally, we are continuing to collect gently used Baby Carriers, Cloth Diapers, and Maternity Clothes for families in need through the Bum and Belly Drive.

We wish you and your family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Looking Ahead to Election 2012

On this election day, we'd like to draw your attention to next year's election and a proposed amendment to Minnesota's constitution which would ban same-sex marriage. We're mentioning this now because we need to begin working together now to defeat this discriminatory initiative.

There are a few issues which we feel compelled to use whatever community standing we have as small business owners to stand up for what we feel is right. We believe that marriage is a human right and that government should not interfere with who a person chooses to marry.

More than that, we are dedicated to serve Minnesota's community of families and children, which is the entire purpose of our store. Whether they have straight or gay parents, all children deserve access to the security and protections that marriage provides. Marriage confers a whole host of benefits for children and families which range from tax deductions to custody issues and from health insurance coverage to legal protections in a divorce. To deny children of these protections simply because of who their parents are is unfair and hurtful.

One year out, we are already witnessing the grinding wheels of the political process as it rolls toward its big show--a presidential election year. An issue like this proposed constitutional amendment in a swing state like Minnesota is going to draw unprecedented attention and money from all over the country. In just a few months, Minnesota children will be bombarded with confusing and often hurtful messages about same-sex marriage every time they turn on the TV or radio. How will this affect your children?

This is an issue which affects us all. Whether it's your friends, your coworkers, or your own family, people you know in your life will be directly impacted by the result of this vote. It may even be one of your own children. Whether our kids turn out to be straight or gay, do we really want to burden them with a discriminatory amendment to our state constitution?

You can begin helping now. We urge you to visit Minnesotans United For All Families and take their pledge today to vote no. If you have time to offer, consider volunteering to help them educate voters about this issue throughout the coming year. And, more than that, talk to your friends and neighbors about how this amendment would hurt real families and real children. This is about so much more than partisan politics. It's about honoring and protecting children and families--no matter what kind they are.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Free Child Development Education Event 11/17

6:30pm on Thursday, November 17 @ Peapods

Stephanie Johnson offers an evening discussion about the effects of electronic toys and media on the child’s nervous system. Linking early physical experiences to future emotional and cognitive development, Ms. Johnson offers a unique perspective on child development. She is known for her warmth, clarity and humor and passionately educates the community on the body’s role in learning.

Babies in arms are welcome. For more information about Stephanie Johnson MA, R-DMT, LPC or Sage Education Center, please visit

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dispatch from the ABC Kids Expo

We just got back from our annual trip to the ABC Kids Expo in Louisville, KY. As always, it was an overwhelming experience. It's hard to convey how huge this trade show is, but we heard that to walk the entire show (which we did and then some) was a full eight miles.

We visited with a lot of our new suppliers and found lots of great new products, too. Watch our facebook page over the coming weeks as we announce new arrivals! Specifically, we got a chance to see new products from bumGenius, including a new one-size all-in-one, new colors and prints, and a new Flip training pant. We should be among the first stores to receive those. Also arrivng soon are new styles of the Beco Gemini and Ergo baby carriers.

We also had great conversations with the folks from Thirsties, Naturpedic, Bummis, SoftBums, Haba, Doodletown, and many more.

In conjunction with the trade show, we attended the annual meetings of the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) and the Real Diaper Industry Alliance (RDIA). We got to meet Peggy O'Mara, the founder of Mothering Magazine, and lots of other retailers and manufacturers. We also got a chance to talk with Neal Cohen, the CPSC's small business ombudsman, about current product safety issues. These meetings were probably the highlight of our trip.

The Bad Idea Fairy Awards
As always, there were a lot of goofy products on display. There's always something there that seems to go out of its way to promote detatchment parenting. This year's standout was the Laptime infant lap seat by Infant Affection. It's basically a padded infant seat to use when holding your baby--presumably so that you won't have to actually touch your baby. Or maybe because mom and dad's arms are just too hard. We couldn't quite understand why this product was necessary.

The oddest product we saw was a flowery headband gift for a baby that comes on a card suggesting that the headband should be saved and used later as a bridal garter belt. Talk about great expectations! We probably won't be ordering any of these, either.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Congress Passes Reform of the CPSIA!

From Dan: For almost three years, we've been working hard to reform the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, a one-size-fits-all law that imposed the same costly third party testing requirements on small batch toy crafters as it did on Mattel. Without a change in the law, we were worried about losing dozens of our favorite small business suppliers, many of work out of their homes.

I helped found the Handmade Toy Alliance in 2008, and I've made three trips to Washington DC and testified twice in Congress. Along with hundreds of other retailers, crafters, and small manufacturers, we've been trying to make the argument that handcrafted children's products deserve protection.

Yesterday, in a flurry of action during all the chaos of the debt ceiling debates, Congress finally passed a bill that offers a way forward for small businesses and targeted exemptions from the costs of third party testing. It was a truly bipartisan bill with only 2 no votes in the House and none in the Senate. We expect it to be signed by the president within days. We believe that these changes will save hundreds of businesses and many of our store's suppliers.

I have to thank the other members of the HTA board, all of whom have been working tirelessly to reach this day. They're a remarkable group of people with a diverse set of talents. They've helped me keep going even when all hope of change seemed to be lost.

We've all learned a huge amount about how the government works. And we've learned that it really is true that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

Thanks also to all of our wonderful customers to wrote to Congress on our behalf--you really made a difference!

Finally, I have to thank Senator Amy Klobuchar, who's office has been incredibly helpful from the beginning. Senator Klobuchar helped us to shape this bill so that it was as helpful as possible and used her influence to push it through the Senate on a unanimous consent vote. We also owe thanks to our friends at MetroIBA, the Minnesota Retailers Association, and Park Midway Bank, all of whom helped us bring this issue to the Senator's attention.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Peapods Annual Sidewalk Sale June 24-25

Different Sidewalk, Same Great Sale!

Yes, this is the big event! It only happens once a year—bunches of stuff on sale 25-75% off. Closeouts, overstocks, scratch & dents, discontinued items, errant purchases, stuff we don't know where it came from, things we wondered "why did we schlep these to the new store?", etc. As always, this is a huge event that happens only once a year and everything's priced to move. Sale runs 10am to 6pm June 24th and 25th.

Because our sidewalk sale is a busy event, we recommend (but do not require) shopping without small children. Our sale will take place rain or shine. Sidewalk sale purchases are final—no returns or exchanges. No fair arriving early!

Monday, May 9, 2011

KARE 11 Coverage of Great Cloth Diaper Change

Here's the video from the April 23rd coverage on KARE 11 of the Great Cloth Diaper Change event. Thanks again to everyone who participated!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The story of a sign

After 12 years of steady service above our old store on Snelling, we had to decide what to do with our old sign. Made of painted sheet metal on an aluminum frame, it was still in good condition, but the logo painted on it was out of date. What do you do with an old sign, anyway?

We designed our original peapod logo in 1999 by editing an MS-Publisher clip art image of vegetables. The font for "Peapods" was Rage Italic, also from MS-Publisher (the same font Panera uses for its menu boards). By 2005, the logo seemed awfully dated and, um, somewhat unprofessional. So we hired Katrina Hase at Mix Creative to redesign our logo. The sign, however, remained--mostly due to the cost of replacing it.

With our move, however, we needed to get that sign down. We're pretty hardy do-it-yourselfers, but we realized removing the sign from its mountings on the brick above the fabric awning would require some professional help. Plus, we were a bit preoccupied with our move and getting our new space into shape. So, we hired a sign company from Eagan to take it down. We would decide later whether to recycle it or keep it as a souvenir.

One day in February, Dan drove our minivan down to Eagan to take a look. We had the idea that he might just load it into the back of the van and drive it home. When he got there, though, it was clear that the sign is much bigger than what we assumed--it's a full 16 feet long and 40" tall. Recycling would be a far easier option. But, it looked so sad, lying there in snow. Dan felt especially sentimental about it, so we arranged to have it delivered to the new store.

So now it's at the new store. Now what? It was too big to even go down the stairs to the basement. The only possible place for it was to hang it high on the wall in our back room, which is phase 2 of our expansion into our new store.

Our back room was the former hardware store's repair shop, where they fixed windows and lawn mowers. A little more than 1,000 square feet, it is actually the oldest part of the building. It was built as a automobile service garage fronting the alley in 1930. The main front part of the building was added 10 years later and became Park Hardware.

When we bought the building, the back had a cement slab floor, cinderblock walls, an uninsulated ceiling, a large space heater hanging in one corner, and was lit by big fluorescent lights. Much of our work in the new store was to convert the back room into usable space. We insulated the ceiling and walls, installed a vapor barrier underlayment on the floor, built space for our office, installed a new furnace, sheetrocked the walls, hung a new ceiling, and installed a beautiful new cork floor. And then hung up our old sign.

So, there it is. Right above our new cloth diaper shelves. It's maybe a little Cracker Barrel--hanging old signs on the wall--but we think it of it as an homage to our old store and all of our memories that go along with it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Great Cloth Diaper Change -- Help us set a World Record!

For Earth Day this year, we are teaming up with Do Good Diapers to host the Great Diaper Change event at our store. The event will happen simultaneously at hundreds of sites all around the world on April 23 at 11 am CST. And, if it's successful, we'll set a record for the Guinness Book of World Records for the most cloth diapers changes at the same time.

Cloth diapers have come a long way in past 10 years, and it's time to stand up and be noticed! In the Twin Cities, gather at our store at 2290 Como Ave in St Paul to help make history. Events start at 9:30 am with the big CHANGE happening at 11 am. Local diaper manufacturer Sarah from Softbums will also be on hand for demos. And, did we mention, there will be door prizes!

How to Participate:

Pre-registration is required so that we can plan for official observers, parking, etc. Go to to sign up for our event. Check out the national website to learn more about what is going on around the globe. And, follow us on facebook for updates and additional information as we get closer to the big event!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Getting the Temperature Right, Part 2

One of the reasons we wanted to own our building was to take responsibility for its infrastructure so that we could make more efficient choices. Well, one of those choices presented itself a little earlier than we expected...

We wrote earlier about how this lead us to install a new high efficiency furnace in the back room of the new store. What we didn't mention then was that we were hoping to get a couple more years out of the 1963 forced air beast that served the front part of the store.

Well, we came up a bit short on that. We were open only 5 days when we heard this loud clunk clunk clunk CLUNK BANG! from the basement. The pulley system that drives the blower fan had seized and self-destructed. No more heat.

Well, 47 years of service isn't bad, right?

So, we called Boehm Heating once again. They put a temporary blower in the old furnace (so we could stay warm during last week's arctic blast) and put us the schedule to get another new furnace.

As of today, we are now the proud owners of 2 high-efficiency furnaces, each rated at 95.5% efficiency, which is about 25% more efficient than before. which means our gas bill should also be about 25% less.

Our new furnace. Yeah!

Although it was kind of a bummer to deal with this so soon after opening, at least we were able to use it as an opportunity to improve our building and, just a bit, our planet as well.

Thanks again to Boehm Heating for their quick response and service.