The deluge of information that lands in the lap of would-be and expecting parents incites all manner of confusion and anxiety.
Rarely does that deluge spark the creation of an emerging national brand.
But that’s the story of Sprout San Francisco, an eco-friendly baby product retailer that opened a store in downtown Mill Valley last month, and is holding a day-long Grand Opening party on March 22. The store, which took over from Baby & Kids Co. at 12 Miller Ave., is the company’s fourth store and first outside a major city.
Sprout is the brainchild of Suzanne Price, who credits its inception with the moment when she and her husband Matt began planning to have kids and realized that there simply didn’t exist a one-stop shop for parents hoping to build a nursery around organic, sustainable and chemical-free products. While plenty of baby product retailers carried some of the products she sought, the lack of that one hub only added to the confusing maze.
Price, who grew up in Manhattan and now lives in San Francisco, wasn’t your average would-be mom dealing with the confusion. Having spent three years at (now-defunct) boutique investment bank ThinkEquity as a senior research analyst focusing on the Green Living Consumer product sector, Price spent most of her time looking at growing, eco-friendly companies like Whole Foods, Hain Celestial and Chipotle. She drew on her knowledge of and experience in that sector, as well as the countless stories from friends who had kids and relayed their struggles.
“A light bulb went off,” Price says. “I realized there should be a place like Whole Foods specifically for new parents to go and know that every product has been vetted to be healthy for their children. It can be so overwhelming.”
Price quit her job in January 2009 and began to lay the foundation for what would become Sprout San Francisco. They opened their first store – on Union Street in the Marina district – in April 2009, just a few months before the birth of their eldest daughter Hannah. Two years later, pregnant with her daughter Amber, Price opened a second store, this time on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. A Chicago store followed in April 2012.
Price says each Sprout store distinguishes itself in a couple of ways, most importantly with its products, which are thoroughly vetted as green and clean.
“We do the research so you don’t have to,” Price says.
Secondly, the stores look to deepen their roots in the community via playrooms, classes and workshops. Music, story time and dance and creative movement sessions already litter Sprout’s calendar of events.
The Mill Valley store marks a new chapter for Sprout as Price eyes future growth. She’s already hit her goal of having five stores in the first five years – the online store accounts for 20 percent of sales – and now she's thinking big, with the possibility of opening a store on the Peninsula and in the NYC suburbs in the near future.
“Maybe two years ago, we wouldn’t have been as quick to do jump on this opportunity in Mill Valley, but our San Francisco store has been doing really well,” Price says. “We’re doing it to have this company one day become a national brand. People want to go a place they trust, and we have a very loyal clientele.”
The 411: Sprout San Francisco is at 12 Miller Ave. in downtown Mill Valley. Its March 22 Grand Opening party features a Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting at 10 a.m., with live music, story time, face painting and balloon animals to follow. Click here for more details.
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