Tamara Miller adjusts a pair of overalls at Special Delivery, a maternity store in the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna. The store, which Miller opened in April, is the only specialty maternity store in the Kenai-Soldotna area.
Photo by John Hult
After four kids, enough was enough for Tamara Miller.
“With this last pregnancy, I bought a few things online and half of them didn’t fit right or were in the wrong season. You couldn’t tell what the fabric looked like online, either, so I didn’t wear a lot of them,” Miller said of her maternity clothes-buying travails.
The child she was pregnant with, 14-month old Liberty, scurries around the behind a glass-topped counter while Miller describes driving to Anchorage for the wares she now sells at her store, Special Delivery.
“I spent about $200 bucks up there on maternity clothes,” Miller said.
Since Special Delivery opened April 3 in Soldotna’s Peninsula Center Mall, pregnant women on the Kenai Peninsula, Miller hopes, won’t need to make such trips.
Kmart sold a variety of maternity clothing, but since the store’s closing in March 2003, shopping for items such as “onesies,” bib overalls and other fitting pregnancy wear has been more difficult, she said.
Neither Gottshalks nor Fred Meyer, the area’s two major department stores, have a maternity section.
“We have everything you need for the baby, but we don’t carry any maternity clothing,” Fred Meyer store manager Ron Delany said.
Delany said the store stopped stocking maternity wear because fashion trends have changed and pregnant women often let their bellies show.
“Nowadays, women will still wear tank tops, it’s almost a source of pride,” he said. “I applaud them for that.”
While trends may have changed over the past 20 years, there is still a demand for maternity clothing by some women, and Miller has been one of them on four separate occasions.
She said even secondhand stores such as The Salvation Army aren’t much help when it comes to finding maternity wear, though.
“I would go into The Salvation Army a couple times a week looking to see if they had any maternity stuff, but they don’t really get much there. People give their maternity stuff to relatives or sell it at garage sales,” she said.
Colleen Fassler, a volunteer at the Soldotna thrift store Bishop’s Attic, said pregnant women do frequent the store in search of future-mommy wearable fare.
“We see them all the time,” Fassler said. “They go through everything we’ve got.”
Fassler agrees that most used maternity wear is passed on to friends or relatives long before her store would get a chance to put it on the rack Bishop’s Attic volunteers try to keep at least half-stocked with the items.
“It’s always difficult for them, because we only have that half rack and women come in all sizes,” Fassler said. “We really needed a store like that around here.”
The public servant at the church-sponsored thrift store isn’t the only one calling Miller’s efforts a public service. Business hasn’t been particularly brisk for the start-up shop, Miller said, but her customers have been appreciative.
“Everybody that comes in here says ‘What a good idea, thank you thank you thank you,’ or ‘I thought about doing that myself,’” Miller said. “There wasn’t anything like that down here, so it’s kind of a unique market.”
Miller, who works as a dietitian and lactation consultant at Central Peninsula General Hospital before coming to the store each evening, said uniqueness is a goal that stretches beyond just offering maternity clothing.
Her store also offers baby memory books, gifts, baby wear and a line of family values-building items from the “Once Upon a Family” collection.
“I’m the only one in Alaska who sells that,” Miller said of the items, which include items like “Lessons to Little Ones,” which assigns values such as “courage” to each month and offers family activities centered around it. “I don’t want to have items in the store that people can go to Fred Meyer or Gottschalks and buy.”
One particularly popular item, she said, are the baby-sized stocking caps the rest in a display on the counter next to the cash register.
The baby caps come equipped with slogans such as “Whiz Kid” or “Little Prin-cess.” The cap bearing the words “Boob Man” was sold out last week.
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