Making life easier for moms

Rock, Rattle and Stroll finds niche with infant, baby and maternity items

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— Single mother Bethany DeBlasis wasn't satisfied with the options she found in Steamboat Springs for baby and toddler items.

She also noted the city had a lack of stores that offered maternity clothes.

"I was sick of places opening up in this town just for the tourists," said DeBlasis, who has lived in Steamboat for seven years. "And I was sick of driving to Silverthorne to get clothes for my daughter."

So last August, DeBlasis decided the only way to change things would be to take matters into her own hands. With the assistance of the Small Business Administration at Colorado Mountain College, the former bookkeeper and office manager developed the plans for Rock, Rattle and Stroll, a store offering a full line of baby clothing and supplies as well as maternity items.

The store opened June 22 next to Clark's Market at Elk River Crossing.

The idea was to offer Steamboat residents access to the same array of baby and maternity items they could get by driving to another community. And today, DeBlasis' store has a surprisingly large inventory that includes both used and new baby furniture and clothes.

The Massachusetts native said she's tried to include products at three different tiers of pricing. Used children's outfits to size 4T can be bought for between $5 and $8. Boy's designer shirts go for for $8 and $9 on the new clothes racks.

DeBlasis said she's gotten a lot of feedback from customers, many of whom want to see her expand her inventory to include children's clothing up to size 10.

"Parents are telling me they can't find anything between size 5 and 10 so I might start carrying those sizes in the spring," she said.

The 2,300-square-foot store is spacious and includes a generous play area with toys and videos to keep children busy while their parents shop.

"My goal was to really have a comfortable place for mothers to bring their kids and be able to shop and not rush," DeBlasis said.

The big play area also keeps her own daughter, Montana, busy for the three days she hangs out with her mother.

Finding a quality car seat isn't a problem at the store. Rock, Rattle and Stroll has stocked nine different new car seats, along with barely used infant seats. The store has a number of other safety gates, gadgets, cribs, mattress pads, strollers and just about any other item needed to stock a nursery.

She has even started a baby registry for expectant mothers.

But DeBlasis said her biggest success, and surprise, has been the maternity clothes.

"I thought I'd do more cribs, car seats and stuff like that, but it's not what I thought," she said. "I'm doing great in the maternity."

DeBlasis said most of her maternity summer stock is gone.

In fact, DeBlasis had to order more maternity swimwear after customers kept snapping them up. She said people would see some of her pregnant customers at the local pools and ask where their bathing suits came from.

"The bathing suits have gone like mad with referrals from the pool," she said.

DeBlasis said she tried to keep the maternity wear mostly casual to fit in with the Steamboat style, while including a small line of business-wear and more formal clothing.

Pregnant women can also find nursing bras, pumps and other items at the store.

DeBlasis said, thanks in part to a favorable lease, she has doubled what she projected with the Small Business Administration's help for her first two months in business.

She said that's the kind of business she'll have to keep doing to keep a store open in Steamboat Springs.

DeBlasis said the most difficult part of operating the store is trying to guess what people want and need. "You try to think how you are, but of course not everyone thinks like me," she said.

Nevertheless, DeBlasis is pushing on, with grand plans for Christmas."I'm gearing up to go really big for toys under the age of 5," she said.

Rock, Rattle and Stroll is open every day but Sundays. DeBlasis may open on Sundays during the holidays.

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