Susan Brady is selling more than cloth diapers from her Richland store — she’s also selling a vision.
[blockquote quote="We want to be a hub for everything sustainable and green." source="Susan Brady owner of Buckwheat Bottoms" align="right" max_width="300px"]
Buckwheat Bottoms provides a supportive and safe community for new moms to learn about natural and sustainable living, as well as a haven where they can form friendships or take classes on breastfeeding or babywearing.
Her customers and employees appreciate this vision and have given the store its own social media hashtag, #morethanastore.
Nearly five years ago, Brady started selling cloth diapers out of the garage of her home — a space not much larger than the dedicated breastfeeding and quiet room at the back of her store. For a while, visits to the store were by appointment only.
In 2013, she moved out of her garage and into a small space at The Parkway in Richland where Nico and Lily’s toys used to be. Last year, she outgrew the spot and moved into the current store at the Uptown Shopping Center in Richland.
In addition to cloth diapers, Buckwheat Bottoms sells green cleaning products, toys, teething products, amber necklaces, organic detergent, wool dryer socks, natural deodorant, and natural feminine hygiene products such as cloth pads.
“We want to be a hub for everything sustainable and green,” she said. “The people who gravitate toward our stores want to learn ways to be more resourceful and sustainable with their families.”
Buckwheat Bottoms also carries items and accessories designed and handmade by local moms like headbands, crochet toys, felt board sets and clothing.
Brady sells both new and used cloth diapers, which range in price from $7 to higher-end brands featuring organic cotton for about $30 per diaper. Brady said she looks closely at prices when sourcing cloth diapers.
“I really wanted to make sure that we were making this accessible for everybody, and we help people stretch their budget,” she said.
The store allows parents to bring in used cloth diapers in exchange for store credit. Brady then resells them. Often parents will donate cloth diapers and Brady will coordinate cloth diaper donations with the Tri-Cities Pregnancy Network for new moms in need.
She said that although cloth diapers come with larger upfront costs — investing in cloth diapers ranges between $200 to $800 — parents experience more savings in the long run. Diapering a child with disposable diapers can cost between $2,000 to $3,000 a year per child.
Brady opened the store when her son was 4 months old. Before becoming a mother, she defended a master’s thesis in biology. She found motherhood to be difficult and isolating. She was also hard-pressed to find places that offered the kind of natural products she wanted for her son.
“I started Buckwheat Bottoms because I was a lonely mom and imagined a place where moms with really tiny babies could come in, sit on a couch and have a safe haven,” she said. “And I decided if I was going to do that I needed some way to pay the bills. At the same time I was struggling with young motherhood, I also realized, in town, at the time, there wasn’t really any place you could buy cloth diapers.”
On its mission to be a resource for new mothers, the store offers weekly support groups from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesdays. The group occasionally brings in lactation consultants and midwives to answer questions. Other events include children’s yoga and music exploration classes, movie nights for moms, quarterly clothing swaps, and educational classes and seminars on women’s health issues.
Brady has two employees who bring their children to work with them. She said it’s important for her to offer them that flexibility, but also a good thing for her customers.
“When customers come in and see other moms with children, they know this is real life,” she said.
The store features a living room, play pen, classroom and a private lactation room with a couch, sink, changing table and baby scale.
“I am so proud of what this community has helped me build,” she said.
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