When a store is called Tree City Diapers, people figure it sells nothing but diapers. And when Molly Ging started Tree City Diapers in her basement in 2003 to cater to a growing demand for cloth diapers, diapers were all she sold. But after she opened her first retail space on Jackson Road in 2006, her inventory expanded to include car seats, strollers, cribs, high chairs, toys, bottles, nursing bras, and slings. And people still thought she sold only diapers. So when she moved to a bigger space on Zeeb across from Meijer in November, she changed the store’s name to The Little Seedling.
Though cloth diapers are no longer the store’s only product, they still make up almost half of Ging’s sales. The Little Seedling carries fifteen to twenty different brands in a wide variety of colors and patterns. The store also hosts monthly workshops to teach parents how to cloth-diaper.
People who’ve never used cloth diapers imagine a diaper pail in the corner of the nursery, reeking of waste and bleach, but Ging says that cloth diapers actually smell less than disposables because there are no added perfumes and no chemical reaction once wastes hit the diaper. Some customers use cloth diapers because they believe it’s a more environmentally sound practice than landfilling disposables; others are motivated by money. Ging estimates that keeping one child in disposable diapers costs $1,500 to $3,000 over three or four years, depending on the brand, but that cloth-diapering the same child will run $300 to $1,000. And unlike disposables, cloth diapers can be reused on another baby.
Some new customers are surprised by one thing the store doesn’t stock: diaper pins. Today’s soft, colorful cloth diapers have Velcro or snap closures. “You just put it under the baby’s bottom, pull it up, Velcro it on. It’s really easy to use, a lot like a disposable diaper,” Ging says. “The only difference is you wash it instead of throw it away.”
The Little Seedling, 355 South Zeeb (Scio Town Center), 418–2392. Mon., Wed., Fri., & Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Tues. & Thurs. 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; Sun. noon–5 p.m. treecitydiapers.com