Traveling without the comforts of home can sometimes be too much for parents with a sleepy baby — making a relaxing vacation anything but.
Hamptons Baby Gear of Riverside, started from home by an enterprising mom, offers families on the go the chance to rent whatever they need — from cribs, walkers and changing tables to toys and beach pails — giving parents and baby the comforts of home while vacationing on the East End.
Owner Lisa Costa said business on the North Fork continues to grow as events like Live on the Vine become more popular, helping sustain the Route 24 business in the off-season.
“We [bring the items], the parents point where they want everything to go, we set it up and we provide everything, including the linens,” said Ms. Costa said, who is also a detective sergeant with the Southampton Town Police Department.
“It started in 2009 and I had no idea what I was getting into,” Ms. Costa said. “I started with five cribs and a website, and it blew up from there.”
The business, which relocated in 2011 to a facility off Route 24, now stocks about 175 cribs, 50 highchairs and hundreds of other necessities for keeping babies and parents happy away from home.
The idea came to Ms. Costa during a family trip to Arizona that included her daughter, Marielle, now 8, and son Cooper, now 6. She said she quickly learned that the secret to successful travel was ensuring that children were able to sleep comfortably.
“We used a company that did baby gear rentals and it was a home run. It made traveling so much easier,” she said. “We brought that idea back to the East End. I thought it would be a great little part-time business. It quickly evolved into a full-time-plus business.”
“It took a couple years for business to develop on the on the North Fork, but now our wagon rentals, like those little red flyer wagons, and our jogging strollers are becoming popular rentals out there,” Ms. Costa said, adding that the big wheels come in handy while touring farms and vineyards.
The rental company also teamed up with a Cutchogue-based real estate firm, which puts them in touch with visiting families.
With business booming, Ms. Costa is expanding this season, offering what she calls “VIP Baby,” providing families with brand new items along with additional comforts, like personal care items for bathing, and baby books to read to children at night, she said, adding that this option does come at a higher price.
Megan Heckman, who helps manage Hamptons Baby Gear, said, “The basic idea is that parents don’t want to put their kids in a pack-and-play because they don’t sleep as well. They want the same types of things they have at home, so that’s what we bring in.”
Their stock of baby necessities offers both top-of-the-line brands to more conservative pieces from Bugaboo, BOB’s and Maclaren strollers, to Baby Bjorn step stools and Fisher Price potties — for youngsters in their transitional years.
“Everything is cleaned and sanitized when it comes in, and then again when it goes back out,” Ms. Costa said, adding that organic cleaners safe for use around children make the job easy.
Rentals start at about $8 per day for a stroller, with weekly and seasonal rental options as well. Service does require a $25 delivery fee, no matter how many items are rented.
As items are phased out over time, Ms. Costa said they often donate or sell them to the Southold Mother’s Club, a group of East End mothers who have formed play groups for area children.
“They come in here and pretty much clear house,” she joked.