I’m no stranger to buying cloth diapers. While I usually stick to buying cloth diapers from my local cloth diaper store, I’ve been known to shop from a co-op.
Buying Cloth Diapers from a Co-Op
When you’re buying cloth diapers from a co-op, you’re getting some diapers at some absolutely amazingly low prices. Really, the price is the single biggest draw to going through a co-op. There’s also the sense of community that can be built through a co-op. Some diapers (like my absolutely gorgeous purple paisley Sunbaby diaper) are beautiful and not readily available from other sources. Letting the co-op head deal with ordering from overseas instead of having to deal with that headache yourself is fantastic. If you’re out for a beautiful diaper to wear with an outfit but have no illusions of it holding up for more than a season, then co-ops are a great source for that. And I’m really fond of RLR, but it’s not locally available. And I can buy it from a co-op for half the price.
However, buying from a co-op isn’t perfect. You’re very limited on what you can get. Sure, you can get hundreds of different patterns. However, you won’t be able to buy your better brands. Best Bottom, Fuzzi Bunz, Charlie Banana, and most of your other premium brands will not operate with co-ops. Rockin’ Green explicitly states on their website that they will not work with co-ops because they are not interested in undercutting their retailers. That means that what you’re left with are primarily the “China Cheapies.”
Buying Cloth Diapers from a Retail Store
I buy 90% of my diapers from my local retail store. I encourage buying cloth diapers from a local store whenever possible. The reasons behind supporting your local retail store over a co-op are numerous, but here’s a few:
Better Diapers Can Be Found at Retail Stores
Some of the most popular premium diapers are only available at small stores. Swaddlebees and Blueberry will never go Wal-Mart. Tereson Dupuy of FuzziBunz has stated that she doesn’t want her diapers in places like Target. Really, most premium diapers are available at boutiques rather than big box and they reject the big box business model. The simple fact is that when it comes to your cloth diapers, you really and truly do get what you pay for. And as for quality? Oh, yes. I have diapers for Eudora that were originally bought for Norton, and they’ll be in fine condition for a third child.
Your Retailer Is Knowledgeable
Sure, your local co-op person will know diapers, but honest co-opers will tell you directly that the diapers that they can get you at bargain basement prices are not of the same caliber. Your local retailer will typically be willing to sit down and actually help you troubleshoot whatever diaper issues you have. And it’s not just about the money: when I was struggling with an overnight cloth diapering solution, the owner of my local store read my blog post and threw in an insert that was bulletproof for her kids.
Your Retailer Can Help with Warranty Issues
It’s a fact of life: sometimes diapers fail. It can be very, very sad when it happens, but such is life. I had a GroVia diaper elastic break in the first week. My retailer just exchanged the diaper for me and dealt with the warranty herself. After years of use, I’ve had a couple of issues with other diapers. They were still under warranty (yay, lifetime warranty!), but I had no clue what I’d done with the receipts. My retailer took the time out of her day to hunt down receipts years ago. (Of course, I also dearly love my retailer. Kisses for Cozy Bums!)
Local Retail Stores Keep the Money Local
Local businesses tend to statistically recycle more of that money into the local economy. When buying from a big box or overseas outlet (like co-ops do), that money is not stimulating the local economy.
Which do you prefer?