Neighborhood News & Notes

As our economy looks for some positive signs, at least one closet industry seems to be thriving: secondhand clothing stores are seeing a surge in popularity. And yes, the pun is intended.

Closets in more and more places are being stocked with new (or, rather, gently used) fashions. Whether it’s the new economy, the trend toward green living or both, used-clothing stores have seen a sudden surge in popularity.

Styles are more hip, the inventory larger and the quality better.

According to Lisa LeDeaux, owner of Love Child, a children’s resale boutique in south Tempe, people are spending their money more thoughtfully these days. And that, she says, is why resale has taken on a new cache.

LeDeaux has been at Love Child, formerly Buffalo Kids, from the beginning, a span of 10 years this coming June.

She quit what she calls the corporate rat-race in 1999 to spend more time with her special-needs son. During that span she has advanced from part-time employee to full-time owner. Lately, she has seen both the supply and demand of fashionable and affordable merchandise skyrocket. 

While the name may have changed, Love Child is a longtime treasure in the Kyrene Corridor. The store is full of great styles, from maternity wear for the mom-to-be to cool teenage apparel, all at a fraction of mall-store prices.

Even the atmosphere is different. Walk into Love Child and you’ll realize that the small space is more than just a place to buy clothes-it’s a destination.

The banter among the customers and employees is what you’d commonly hear at lunch with friends: How much a newborn baby should be eating, when will the “terrible twos” really end.

As with many small stores, this one has grown with the neighborhood; the mom with the tiny baby keeps coming back for more when the kids become tweens, teens and young adults. Now there’s a whole new set of questions and answers to be exchanged.

There’s a certain comfort level here, too. Love Child is a relaxed place were moms can spend time chatting and browsing, all while LeDeaux or another team member appraises the bags of clothing and toys that are brought in for cash or exchange.

With a no-appointment-necessary policy and the ability to buy clothing for any season all year round, the convenience of trading seems to work for everyone. Winter wear and accessories are some of their biggest sellers, even in summer.

LeDeaux says she has worked hard to create a community within the shop, and is proud that many of her customers are also friends.

The racks are full of great styles at great bargains; the walls are lined with like-new toys that kids can try out while mom shops. And the happy chatter among customers becomes background music for a symphony of agreement that hand-me-downs aren’t such a bad idea, after all.

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