Customers are often surprised and/or perplexed to learn that our store does not have any kind of Boxing Day or Boxing Week sales. Yes, Boxing Day is the biggest day in Canadian retail, so it’s natural to assume that every store in Canada would want to take part… but we didn’t get to where we are today by thinking in the box (no pun intended).

We’re passing on Boxing Day and we hope others will join us too. And here are the reasons why:

We’re small; they’re big. We don’t have a large store so we don’t buy en masse. This is our 5th holiday season and we have a pretty good idea what and how much stock we’ll need to ensure that all our little customers get something great to open on Christmas day. We are careful curators who don’t overbuy. The big stores have massive warehouses that can be filled to the rafters with extra stock; on Boxing Day, all that extra merchandise has to Go, Go, Go(!) to make room for the next season’s inventory.

Margins. Everyone knows that giants like Amazon, Toys R’ Us, etc. can get product cheap because they buy in volume. They often end up paying so little wholesale for their merchandise that they can mark it up 150% or more, which is why a 50% off sale is no biggie to them. Well it’s a biggie to us, because our margins are much smaller. We buy at the top end of wholesale and we still keep our prices competitive with the big guys. So to us, even a 10% discount is HUGE.

Plus…shall I go on about why it’s better to buy from your local small business, or have you already heard it before? I’m going to assume you know that small business helps communities grow and prosper. And we’re a small business that supports other small businesses (usually Mom-prenuers that would never get an audience with the likes of Wal-Mart or others). But hey, you already know all that….

Lastly, and the Number 1 reason we don’t believe in Boxing Day:

We think our pre-Christmas customers deserve better. As consumers ourselves, it drives us insane when we pay full price for an item because we think it will make a great gift for someone, only to see it two weeks later marked down 50% or more as part of a Boxing Week sale. Grrrr…rage is building just thinking about it….

When it happens to us, which it does every year, we feel extorted, used and unloved (pardon the drama). I don’t know how many others feel this way; judging by the magnitude of the Boxing Day phenomenon, it seems that most people are able to get over it. Regardless, we want to assure Pebble customers that they are getting the same great value on quality products before and after Christmas. And get this—we have actual promotions during the holiday season. (Join our newsletter or like us on Facebook to get in on that action.) Doesn’t that make more sense? If you truly value your customers, why not help them out when it really counts? Right?

We realize that all across this great land of ours, many small businesses will be offering various sales and promotions throughout Boxing Week; we are not criticizing, maligning, sneering at, whispering about or judging them in any way. No two businesses are exactly alike and some may decide that Boxing Day works with their products and/or business model. But for Pebble staff and management, we’ll be spending Boxing Day just like many of our customers—relaxing with family, eating leftover turkey and waiting in line at the Christmas Train. Yes, that means Pebble is closed on Boxing Day.

Please share your thoughts on this subject. We’d love to know what you think.

Oh, and last but not least—from all of us at Pebble, Happy Holidays to you and yours, and Best Wishes for 2013.

What makes Easter even more fun? If you said “a colouring contest!” You’d be 100% right. (Especially if you jumped up and said it really loud.) That’s why we at Pebble have decided to have one of our very own, starting…. Now!

Click here to download the PDF, and have your little one colour and enter it in-store by Tuesday April 10, 2012. Two winners (one for kids age 0-3 and one for kids 4-6) will receive $25 Pebble Gift Certificates. Winners will be selected the following day, but everyone who enters will receive a little something as a thank you. It’s Easter after all!

Oh — and don’t forget to include your child’s name and age, plus your phone # or email. Do your best, have fun, happy colouring and Happy Easter!

 

Pebble 2012 Easter Colouring Contest PDF

Just in time for the Holidays, the Canadian Toy Council had announced the 2011 Childrens Choice Toys — or perhaps as they should be known, the Great Big List of Plastic Stuff. OK, perhaps that may be a little too harsh — after all, it is the holiday season, and the last thing we want is to end up on Santa’s naughty list.

That said, if you have kids on your list whom you’d prefer to give gifts with lasting value, or if you’d simply prefer not to see yet more plastic stuff scattered around your living room on Christmas morning, The Pebble team has compiled its own list of recommended toys — all of the fun, none of the plastic. And of course, we carry each and every one of them (at least while supplies last, so you may want to hurry.)

We think St. Nick would be proud.

(1) Wishbone Flip

Wishbone Flip available at Pebble

It’s a rocker that converts to ride-on in mere seconds, thanks to a nifty flipping mechanism. Its simple, beautiful design includes double bolt holes that allow the Flip to grow with your child. Made from 100% reforested birch plywood. Meets current European, US and international toy safety standards. Recommended for ages 1 to 5.

(2) Educo Salad

Educo Salad toy, available at Pebble

Create a gourmet salad with fabric lettuce and carrot strips, wooden peppers, cucumbers, onions and tomato slices. Toss with a little imaginary dressing from an exquisite salad dressing bottle, and you’ve got yourself some delicious and healthy lifetime eating habits reinforced by early-age play.

(3) Plan Toys Xylophone

Buy Plan Toys Xylophone at Pebble

You just can’t go wrong with the classics. The xylophone is simply one of the best ways to introduce toddlers to their inner musician. Especially when it’s a top-quality Plan Toys xylophone, made of chemical free, kiln-dried recycled rubber wood.

(4) Manhattan Toy Puppet Theatre

Buy Manhattan Toy Puppet Theatre at Pebble

For those who love to give the gift of originality, it’s hard to top this one. This adorable yet functional puppet theatre will give new life to old puppets — and raise the interest level in new ones — while inspiring kids to create, imagine and perform. And when the show’s over, it also doubles as a couch cushion-saving fort.

(5) Beleduc Puppets

Buy Beleduc Hand Puppets at Pebble

Sometimes, all you need is a stocking stuffer. Beleduc hand puppets fit almost any hand (as well as almost any gift budget) and are almost too adorable to be legal.

(6) Blabla Dolls

Buy BlaBla dolls from Peru at Pebble

A great story makes a great gift even better. Blabla Dolls are more than just irresistibly soft and cuddly pals; designed by Florence Wetterwald and knitted by Peruvian artisans, everything about them is handmade from exceptional quality natural fibers grown in Peru.

The simple, poetic, and vibrant style combined with the ancestral knowledge of the knitters has created products which look contemporary, yet feel like old friends. And that’s something you just don’t get from Fisher-Price.

(7) Educo My Creative Cookery Kitchen

Buy the My Creative Cookery Kitchen from Educo at Pebble

Turns out the Canadian Toy Council agrees with us on this one; this toy has earned the Council’s 3-star award. There are plenty of play kitchens out there, but Educo’s version is easily one of the best. Yet while most other top-of-the-line toy kitchens can be ridiculously expensive, the Educo kitchen offers some of the best value, considering not only its outstanding quality but everything that’s included with it: a refrigerator, a cook top, a sink — even an oven with a see-through door. There are also plenty of ingredients for the perfect meal, including veggies, bread, an egg, cheese, pizza, salt and pepper, pots and pans, and utensils.

(8) Prince Lionheart Wheely

Buy the Prince Lionheart Wheely at Pebble. Available in 3 different versions.

This is the kind of gift that makes adults wish they were still small enough to take it for a spin. The Prince Lionheart Wheely has won a bevy of international toy awards, is constructed from the highest quality materials and is entirely non-toxic and contains no PVC. Oh, and did we mention it’s crazy fun?

(9) Wishing Owls

Buy handmade Wishing Owls at Pebble

For those who love giving one-of-a-kind gifts, no two Wishing Owls are alike. And no, that’s not just a bunch of sales hyperbole — each and every one is literally unique. How can this be? Because they’re all hand-made in Vancouver using recycled, re-used and vintage fabrics. (Some new fabrics and fill are used, but all ‘new’ materials are actually made from recycled plastic bottles.) Available in small and large sizes.

(10) Modern-Twist Kidz Placemat & Marker Set

Buy Modern Twist placemats at Pebble

Setting the table is a lot more fun when the placemats look like this, and you even get to color them. Collaborating with independent artists, these placemats features playful yet amazing artwork. Just clean off with a damp cloth or rinse, and color again & again; washable markers are included but any washable or dry-erase markers will work. Made from silky food-grade, hand silk-screened silicone, these mats are a non-porous, germ-free surface, free of BPA, lead, latex & phthalates, and won’t crease or rip. Ideal for traveling.

Vote for Pebble in the 2010 Best of Vancouver Poll

Hello friends,

It’s that time of year! Summer, yes… but also… The Georgia Straight’s 2010 Best of Vancouver Poll is here once again. And guess what? With your help, Pebble can be ranked tops in the Best Toy Store and Best Baby/Toddler Store categories.

Voting is easy:

1) Go to www.straight.com/bov and sign up.

2) Write ‘Pebble’ in the Best Toy Store and Best Baby/Toddler Store categories. (Best Toy Store is under the ‘Living’ Section; Best Baby/Toddler Store is under the ‘Style Section’.)

Of course, if you don’t think we belong in the Top 3, please let us know what you think we could do to improve! If you vote in a minimum of 25 categories, you will be entered in a draw for a $3000 travel voucher for a dream vacation!

But hurry, because your window of opportunity is almost as short as a Vancouver summer… Voting ends July 29 at 5pm.

We’re having a party! (Plus a store-wide sale)

Pebble is turning two! And what’s a birthday without a party? Join us Thursday, July 29 from 10AM – 8PM as we celebrate two years of fantastic customers, great local suppliers and new friends. We’re talking lemonade, mini cupcakes and a whole bunch of fun stuff, including:

•  Red Fish Kids Clothing designer Lorraine Kitsos will be joining us to offer gorgeous
limited edition and one-of-a-kind items – all locally made, of course.
• Cici Art Factory artist Liz Clay will be on site from 4pm – 8pm customizing
her prints for free — and giving away a pack of Cici gift cards with the purchase of any canvas print.
• Giveaways! Two lucky shoppers will win $50 pebble gift certificates for attending our event.
• And just in case you missed it, our first-ever store-wide sale!

Not to mention balloons, face painting and much more. So come on and join us for the fun! And if you have any questions, just give us a shout.
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Sharing

Johnny and Jack are almost two years old. They have weekly play dates while their moms sit on the couch catching up. One day, while Jack is building a tower with some blocks, Johnny sits next to him playing with cars. A couple minutes later, Johnny goes over to Jack, grabs the blocks out of Jack’s hand, knocking down the tower and walks away. Johnny starts to cry inconsolably. The play date is over.

This scenario is likely very familiar to many moms. Sharing is a very complex skill. It requires children to understand how others feel, manage strong emotions, have self-control, and understand time (e.g., waiting their turn). Young children will not have developed these abilities. In fact, children will only start to develop these skills when they are approaching 3 years of age and will still need a lot of help for many years after that. So what can parents do to encourage the development of this important prosocial behavior?

  • Play turn taking games with your child, such as rolling a ball back and forth or taking turns placing blacks on a tower. This is a great first introduction to sharing where parents have an opportunity to model the skill.
  • Talk about sharing by pointing out examples of sharing that you noticed in real-life and in books.
  • With children under 2 or 3 redirection will be a key strategy when difficulties with sharing come up. Distract the upset child with a new exciting option, thereby giving him/her lots of attention.
  • Make sure you are noticing positive behaviours including sharing and provide a lot of specific praise, “That is amazing how you guys figured out to share the cars with each other.”
  • Around age 3, you can begin to use more concrete strategies to teach sharing. For example, you can say things like, “there is only one police car, I will set the timer and you will each have three minutes to play with it. While you are waiting for your turn, why don’t you play with the firetruck.” This provides external guidance and strategies for sharing that they can later internalize.
  • Directly teach children problem solving skills:
    • Explain the situation as simply as possible in a calm voice. “You wanted to play with the car so you took it away from Steve.
    • Explain the consequences of the actions. Point out behaviours and feelings. “After you took it, Steve began to cry. He felt sad and mad.”
    • Brainstorm with your child other strategies that might be better next time. As children approach three and on, they will be able to help generate ideas. “Next time, you can use your words and ask for the toy or ask me for help for a turn.”

Don’t forget learning these behaviours take time.  You will have to provide considerable support and go through these strategies many times before they will be able to do it on their own. Remember your most powerful tool in teaching and reinforcing new behaviours is you! Children want to please. When you respond positively with a lot of attention for pro-social behaviours like sharing, they will feel good about themselves and will want to do it some more.

Dr. Annie Simpson, R. Psych

Dr. Annie Simpson is a registered psychologist at the North Shore Stress and Anxiety Clinic (www.nssac.ca) and specializes in assessment and treatment of emotional and behavioural problems in childhood.

The Fussy Foodie


You’ve done everything right. Exclusively breastfed your child until they are ready for college. Fed them fresh, organic seasonal vegetables, never once buying the easy store bought prepared food that boasted being organic. Disappointed grandparents with your homebaked hockey pucks or those sugar, gluten and dairy free cupcakes you served at your little one’s first birthday. You’ve made everything yourself. Let your baby make a mess at meal times to encourage eating on their own and asserting their independence. And then it happens. Your adventurous foodie suddenly refuses to eat all their healthy favorites. And, nothing healthy seems to please them. That precious tiny hand pushes the food away as if to say “No.” Ever been there?

Well, if you haven’t yet…you’re lucky. Or, that first refusal might just be around the corner. Like most phases in your child’s life this one too shall pass. What matters here are the choices you make and how you react in the moment. This phase is temporary, but how you respond can have lifelong effects on your child’s diet, eating habits, and tastes. Signs of refusal from our children and our anxieties about our children not eating enough can lead to reaching for bread, processed sugary foods, and a life without those precious greens.

To help you through this period, WeeMunch has come up with a range of questions and ideas to consider before radically altering your child’s diet.

  1. Is your child teething? That’s often a difficult one to know for sure and can often become an excuse for everything, but is also a valid explanation for fussiness. There are times when their sore mouth may show in a loss of appetite or a desire for liquids over solids. This usually doesn’t last more than a day or two.
  2. Are you serving the same meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Or the same foods regularly? There does come a point when our children notice. And, what seems like a disinterest in broccoli is really an interest in more variety!
  3. Phases: There are many of these in your child’s life. When it comes to foods there are many colours under the rainbow. Picasso went through a blue period, then a rose period. Children sometimes want orange, or green, or red only. Don’t fret. Perhaps this is their way of telling you what their body needs. Just try to keep offering a variety.
  4. Give up control. Some parents are really afraid of a mess. And, sadly the best way to encourage healthy eating is to allow our children to play and experiment with their food. This isn’t always comfortable for us, and we may worry about “teaching” our children bad manners. But my son has proven time and again that his food refusal is often his way of asserting his independence about wanting to lead the eating process. This doesn’t mean letting them play with food that they are clearly finished eating—that’s different.  It’s about striking a balance and teaching respect for food.
  5. We don’t encourage “hiding” or “disguising” the veggies, so to speak, at WeeMunch. But the first years are foundational for brain, bone and immune system development. We also don’t encourage the use of supplements…but there are some good whole food supplements that can enhance your little one’s diet during prolonged periods of fussiness. Read More…
  6. Never give up. Find healthy alternatives. Don’t make a fuss. If they’re not interested…let it go. Don’t get into preparing a new meal…that will go on forever and encourage fussiness in the long run. They’ll eat a bigger dinner or snack later.

Believe it or not, we don’t have all of the answers. So we’ve interviewed some of our favorite foodie mothers for their stories about working through the fussy phase. Send us your stories to weemunch@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you.

Leslie Sarracino & Heather Jacobs’s Story

Owners / Founders of Graze Organic

Get PVC-free feeding products plus organic clothing, towels and toys at Pebble!

Not serving your child new and different foods can lead to food fussiness.  Don’t give them just chicken fingers and cheese quesadillas.  Lead by example.  They’ll eat what you’re eating.  You don’t have to wait until they’re older to offer them a variety of foods and tastes.   Start right away — when they begin eating solids.

We always include the kids in the preparation and cooking of something new and exotic.  They can help with cutting, measuring, even setting the table.

We also have a small vegetable garden and we try to plant something new (not the usual tomatoes & cucumbers).  Throw in some kale, beets, etc.   If they grow it, they will try it. We promise!

holistic nutrition and healthy eating

WeeMunch: Your Guide to Real Food for Kids is all about the exciting world of children and nutrition. Lisa Marie and Karen are two friends, who have toddler sons that they make food choices for everyday. Lisa Marie is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Karen has an MA in Museum/Art education. WeeMunch is a way to share their conversations and thoughts on how to navigate the increasingly complex world of children and food with you.


The Power of Play



Ahhh parenting… so many jobs, so little time. Parents are caregivers, teachers, cooks, waiters, housekeepers, personal shoppers, healers, all in one day. With all of these jobs it’s often hard to find the time to really play with our kids. Play is how children learn and it’s an essential part of their development. Taking the time out of our million and one jobs as parents to play with our kids can have some really big returns!



Research has shown that as little as 5 to 10 minutes a day of one-on-one child-led play can have a huge positive impact on many areas of a young child’s development. It has been found to improve language skills, decrease behaviour problems, lengthen attention span, increase self-esteem and confidence, reduce sibling rivalry, and nurture close parent-child relationships. Stronger parent-child relationships often mean more compliance and respect. Playing with your child can ease the stress of parenting – we are actually making the time to have fun!



Playing with our kids seems so easy, and yet when many parents sit down to do it, they realize that they aren’t quite sure what to do. The following tips may be helpful in creating a positive experience:

  • Schedule specific time every day to play with child (5-10 minutes is usually plenty!)
  • Choose toys that encourage creativity (e.g., blocks, pretend food, etc.) Skip the toys that have preset rules (e.g.,board games) or may require limits (e.g., swords).
  • Be fully present – give your child your undivided attention. Put aside the day’s problems for these few minutes and allow yourself to connect, engage, and interact with your child.
  • Follow your child’s lead. Allow your child to direct the play activity. Avoid telling your child what to do and how to do it. There are many opportunities during the day to teach your child. Try to avoid explicit teaching during these play periods. Describe what you see your child doing to let them know you are really present (e.g., “You are putting the red block on the green block. It looks like you are building a tower.”).
  • Find many opportunities to praise appropriate behaviours that you see during the play. By telling kids exactly what you like, you increase the likelihood of your children doing these behaviours again (e.g., “I like the way you are playing so gently with the toys.”).
  • Have fun!



Dr. Annie Simpson, R. Psych
Registered Psychologist
nssac.ca



Dr. Annie Simpson is a registered psychologist at the North Shore Stress and Anxiety Clinic and specializes in assessment and treatment of emotional and behavioural problems in childhood.

Hello friends, neighbors & fans! You may have heard of the popular local blog, kitsilano.ca. They are currently doing an end-of-year ‘Best of Kitsilano’ online poll, and Pebble is among the nominees for best baby store. So we were wondering if you wouldn’t mind, while your Christmas turkey is digesting or you are busy psyching yourself up for NYE festivities, if you’d be so kind as to vote for us. Just select the ‘Best of Shopping’ link, of course!



Give them full credit for setting up a simple, private poll that’s finished in 20 seconds or less. Seriously – time it yourself. Just don’t forget to vote for Pebble.

Just a reminder that even Canada Post’s most generous deadlines are fast approaching (or as they refer to them, “Suggested Mailing Dates”). You can check out the entire list over here, but these are the most immediate ones:



Air Parcel to USA - Friday, Dec 4

XPress Post to Europe, Asia, Australia & NZ – Monday, Dec 7

Regular Parcel within Canada – Friday, Dec 11



And of course, if your parcel doesn’t arrive at your loved ones’ door before Christmas, you know it probably won’t show up until about a week after. To some people that matters while to others, meh! Not so much. It’s the thought that counts after all, right?

But if you happen to be one of those people for whom it matters, and you happen to still be searching for that perfect gift, we know a great children’s store that will do everything possible to help you make sure it arrives on time.

Happy 24 Days Until Christmas!

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