Buying Cloth Diapers – Co-Op Or Retail?

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?

Buying Cloth Diapers - Co-Op Or Retail? (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

Sure, these are some absolutely fantastic cloth diapers… but you won’t find them at a co-op.

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. I totally agree my only problem is the closest cloth store is a state over so I end up buying a lot online but I usually always buy made in the USA if possible. I like supporting our country.

  2. The co-op cheapies have gotten better over the years. When I CDed my oldest 5 years ago, they were aweful. I tried several different brands of them, got disgusted with diapers that didn’t fit as advertised or leaked like mad so I gave up and started scoring new and gently used Blueberry and BG OS. This time around with my youngest I’ve shored up what diapers survived my oldest with sunbabies and cartoon diapers that are a fraction of the price and they work pretty well. There is a quality difference, that’s obvious, but I think they’ll fare alright for this, my last baby. The CD store here doesn’t carry pockets, and I’m not fond of other styles, so I end up buying them on the internet anyway.

  3. I really really wish my local cloth diaper store carried the two brands that work for my girl. I try to support the store by buying all my extras from there, but I have to buy my diapers from an online store in the next province. I tried a co-op once, but by the time I paid the co-op fees and shipping fees, the diapers were actually MORE expensive than if I would have just ordered directly from the site 🙁 I won’t be making that mistake again.

  4. Rachel N says:

    I have never bought from a co-op but I am pretty picky about which brands I will use now. I have been cloth diapering for 3 years now and I know which ones are my favorites and they are not avaliable through co-ops.

  5. Dionne Hernandez says:

    I would like to check out a co-op but I’m a pretty big supporter of small businesses.

  6. Donna Martin says:

    Interesting, thoughtful post.A co-op just seems a little fishy to me and who’s to say you are really get the official product and not a knock off.

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  1. […] You can get premium brand pocket diapers for up to $28 each or China Cheapies for $3 each if you use a co-op.  You can also find pocket diapers in all price points and quality levels in […]

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