Source for kids’ items new and used moves to bigger digs

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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As a mother of four, Auburn’s Lesley Stern is a big advocate for recycling. “I don’t like to be a throwaway society,” she said this week. “I like the fact you can reuse clothes, equipment, books and uniforms. Most of the time, the stuff is in good shape so other children can use it. Also, there’s a need for it.” Stern opened Cucamonga Kids five years ago next door to her husband’s company. Robert Stern owned Computereze at Highway 49 and Dry Creek Road. When the two of them found out they’d have to move their businesses earlier this fall, Lesley Stern found a bigger location on Highway 49. Now, with 3,000 square feet, she’s finding lots of space for her mix of new, used and consigned inventory. “We have a lot of room for storage,” she said. “We have a baby room now. It is complete with high chairs, strollers and parenting and pregnancy books. It has clothes that run from newborn to 18 months or two years in that one room and toys that cater to just that age.” The stalled economy has brought a bit of a business boomlet for Stern. “A lot more people want to buy and consign because they can’t afford (full-price),” Stern said. The idea for the store took root in Stern’s search for good deals while shopping for her children. “First of all, I got a gift for my daughter from the Gymboree (brand),” she said. “When I went to return it because it wasn’t the right size, I fell in love with the quality. I had heard on eBay you could sell the same outfit only worn a couple of times for pretty much the same price. So I began buying clothing for my children on Gymboree and then reselling it.” To stock the store, she shopped at thrift stores and then invited consigners to come in. “So many women out there want to unload clothes or other items,” she said. Stern offers consigners store credit or cash after the items have sold. She finds that often they opt for the store credit because they need clothing for their children, she said. Because of the abundance of merchandise on hand, Stern has temporarily stopped taking consignments until after the first of the year, although she’s still accepting playhouses, slides and climbers, she said. The name of the store comes from when the family lived in Southern California. The Sterns moved to the Auburn area in the mid-1990s. “I lived in Cucamonga that became Rancho Cucamonga,” she said. “I loved the name. I’d call my kids Cucamonga — just like a kooky type of name.” Besides Gymboree, Stern has stocked the store with other brand names like Naartjie, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hanna Andersson and Land’s End and wooden toys and puzzles from Melissa and Doug. There are also plenty of everyday clothes, too. Stern is very pleased with the response to the bigger store. “It has been great,” she said. “Women have room to push their strollers through.” The space, previously occupied by a swimming pool design business, included a cave area. “We’re using the cave as a play area for the kids while the mothers shop,” Stern said. Longtime customer Bev Macy of Auburn said she visits the store for the variety and quality. “I have an English tea party business for children and adults,” she said. “I visit the store for the costumes, books, puzzles and items for gift baskets. She has a high-quality variety of clothing.” Danelle Dominquez, an Auburn resident, was at the store this week doing some Christmas shopping. “I used to go to the other store,” she said. “I like that they have more space. There’s a huge selection. There are good prices and lots of different variety. It’s not the same thing you find everywhere else.” The Journal’s Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia. com or comment at