From the joyfully handcrafted items on the counter, to the racks and racks of brightly colored tiny outfits amidst play areas for the youngest of customers, there is an overwhelming feeling of welcome as you walk into the newest consignment shop in Brattleboro, Love It Twice, located at 74 Black Mountain Road. And this is exactly how owner and operator Leigh-Ann Cwikowski wants it.
With a strong 20-year background in education, serving the last six years as a paraeducator at Brattleboro Area Middle School, Cwikowski is not new to meeting the needs of mothers and children in the area. For the last three years she also operated a personal shopping business out of her home, selling lovingly used children and baby items that she bought from friends. She would also take requests and locate the item, using Facebook as her vehicle -- sort of a children's items broker, if you will. But it didn't take long for her to run out of room.
There was something else nagging at her. It was important for her to give back to the community that she cherished and to the education system that she was so passionate about. Her need for more space and her need to give back came together in her new consignment shop where she not only continues to offer reasonably priced children's and babies' items and clothing to her clients, but she also offers the opportunity for consigners to participate in the Earn 2 Learn program.
The Earn 2 Learn program was originally established by Julie Strong of the New To You Boutique in Sunderland, Mass. Cwikowski now also offers the program at her shop. Here's how it works. Consigners may opt into the program, donating the proceeds from their items to go into the pocket of the school of their choice rather than into their own and the money is attributed to them as the donor. It is a great way to earn money for the area schools while helping families keep a budget. Cwikowski hopes this program will continue to grow as other businesses join and offer this service also.
For Cwikowski it is all about the service. She has gone to great lengths to make her customers' experience at Love It Twice comfortable. Being a mom herself she knows what the hurdles are when shopping with children and so she offers a changing table with all the supplies needed, just in case, and toys and books and places to play while mommy (or daddy) shops.
And the shopping is a delight. The large inventory of clothing is neat and orderly, something for everyone's budget for newborns to teens. Cwikowski makes a point of carrying all brands from Walmart to Abercrombie and everything in between -- priced appropriately. She wants everyone to find something within their price range. Cwikowski also carries handcrafted items, some crafted by her, some from area crafters. Just to name a few, on display are diaper cakes created by Cwikowski that make wonderful shower gifts, felted foods for play created by Rebecca Johnson of Vernon where moms can fill out a wish list for felted foods not in the rack, and handmade scarves crafted by Linda LaPlante from Turners Falls, Mass. In a section dedicated to American Girl dolls, it includes handcrafted clothing that fits the AG dolls and the replicas. Scattered throughout the store are walkers, a pack ‘n' play, strollers and other larger items.
Something dear to Cwikowski ‘s heart also are horses. She shows her miniature horses, and knows how expensive tack can be, so she has also dedicated a wall to tack. In the back of the store where the large selection of maternity clothes is found, there stands a pregnant manikin. Cwikowski told of the time a grandmother-to-be was buying maternity clothes for her daughter who lived out of state. Cwikowski helped her dress the manikin, then the grandmother texted photos to her daughter so she could pick which outfits she liked! The manikin is a great tool for picking outfits for moms-to-be who are in the early stages of pregnancy and not quite sure how clothing will look as their baby bump grows.
Cwikowski has expanded her hours to close at 6 p.m., and open at 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, after receiving feedback from working moms that it was difficult to make it to her shop before 5 p.m. She opens at 10 a.m., closes at 3 p.m. on Saturday, and is closed Sundays.
Cwikowski is also a reseller and welcomes new suppliers with products that may be a nice fit for her shop. For anyone wishing to consign their previously loved baby and children items either to earn a little extra cash or to donate to the Earn 2 Learn program, Cwikowski accepts children's clothing and shoes, maternity clothing, horse tack, horse apparel, dance wear, toys, games, puzzles, baby furniture, teen clothing, crafts, twin clothes, items for the Mom's corner, purses, pocketbooks and scarves. You can call Cwikowski at 802-490-2160 to arrange a time or stop right in.
Visit Cwikowski Love It Twice, at 74 Black Mountain Road in Brattleboro (in the old Comcast office) and have fun shopping. Don't forget to check out the community bulletin board in the entryway, or post an announcement of your own, or visit them on Facebook to view the posted items for sale, and "like" them to get postings as new items arrive.
Cicely Eastman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 261.