By LeRae Haynes –
Lisa Buhler and Jennifer Earnshaw at Alternative Kids Clothing and Accessories have six children between them, and know what it’s like to try to find kids’ clothes that are unique and practical, responsible and affordable.
Buhler says they started Alternative Kids Clothing and Accessories last fall because they heard so many people say there are so few options for kids’ clothing in Williams Lake. “This store is a reflection of my own kids’ closets,” she says. “Some of their clothes are passed on from someone else and there are a few selected new items. It’s what we’re already doing in our own homes, and this was a natural way to pass it on to other people who may be interested.”
Used, new, recycled, and up-cycled, their items are one-of-a-kind, Buhler says, and sometimes they take used clothes and creatively refurbish them.
She explains between 70 and 80 per cent of the items are used, or ‘pre-loved’ and getting a new life. “We also sell new items, carefully chosen for our store,” she says. “We buy from fair trade companies—the same things we look for when buying clothes for our own kids for the past seven years.
“All our companies use organic cotton, are sweat shop free, socially aware, and responsible. According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that three million people a year are poisoned by chemicals used in growing cotton.”
Buying only organic cotton is one way to help care for the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world, according to Buhler. “It’s a great way to start,” she says. “Fair trade is also important when it comes to organic cotton—after all, it’s workers in their countries who deal directly with those chemicals.” She adds that three of the companies they buy from are Canadian – two are in BC – and the other is Egyptian.
“We look for things that are cute, and things people would want to put on their kids,” she says. “We carry as big a range as possible—styles, sizes, and seasons. We have things for infants all the way to young adult.”
At Alternative Kids Clothing and Accessories you can also find locally-made items like soaps, hair accessories, belts and headbands, blankets, recycled purses, and jewellery.
She says another motivation for starting the store was to dispel the myth around second-hand clothing—that they’re dirty or unsafe and you always have to buy new clothes. “Just because you buy a new garment doesn’t mean it’s safe,” she says. “Even when kids’ clothes are made of cotton, it’s recommended that you wash them five or six times. Health of our kids should be our primary focus: sometimes second hand can be best.”
Alternative Kids, which opened last fall, is growing and expanding, according to Buhler, who says future expansion will reflect the natural demand in the community. “We’ve had a very positive response—a really busy first fall and winter.
“We have very reasonable prices,” she says. “We stay on top of pricing and keep it accessible for people. You can clothe your child for less than half of what you can do in regular retail.”
“We also have a great landlord who is both family and business friendly—he’s been so flexible to accommodate us.
“There are such great options here for gifts—whether up-cycled, recycled, or new, it’s unique,” says Buhler. “These are gifts you feel good about giving—good for people on the other side of the world and on this side, too.”
For more information about Alternative Kids Clothing and Accessories, including store hours, find the store by name on Facebook, phone (250) 392-4445, or visit at #65 1st Avenue S in Williams Lake.
LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, songwriter, co-producer of “Pursicles,” and the community co-ordinator for Success by 6. She is also the instigator of a lot of musical shenanigans in Williams Lake including “Borderband” with kids and is a member of the “Perfect Match” dance band.