One of the first things noticed at Dandelions Raising Children Naturally at 3987 Missouri Flat Road in Placerville was a copy of “Barnaby and Thor” by Sue Hegarty on the counter.
This extraordinary children’s book written by a local author and illustrated by talented artist Alice Shaw is not only a cute story, it radiates good will and teaches good values.
It is a likely metaphor for this wonderful store that has everything from layette items and clothing to toys, books and educational items that are safe, high quality and environmentally-friendly.
But Hegarty’s fabulous book is only a fractional reflection of the wonderful selection of books and educational items in “The Teaching Garden,” an integral part of the store.
An educator and consultant, operations manager Susanna James is dedicated to carrying all the things that make childhood and learning joyful, safe and ecologically sound.
The name “Dandelions — Raising Children Naturally” isn’t just about being environmentally friendly, it’s about letting children be natural. James celebrates childhood, letting children be children, and providing a space where the magical time of childhood is celebrated, nourished and is not so fleeting.
“Not only do we have organic clothing and bedding, we provide things with the consideration that they’re allowed to be little as long as they can,” said James.
A virtual wonderland
This fabulously designed and organized store has anything and everything; it’s a visual delight and a virtual wonderland of the latest technology — with things made the old fashioned way.
There are toys without batteries, wooden blocks, trains and trucks that are made in the USA. Every toy and educational item is ordered from companies that uphold safety and green forethought.
“We do a lot of work to make sure those criteria are met,” said James, mentioning companies like Fair Trade, Made in USA and Organics.
Yet some things are magical, like the fairy outfits that so entrance little girls. One of the best sellers has been these dresses that come with wings and leotards. They also have handmade wool crowns with baubles that are just darling. A young princess can choose her own enchanting style and color, highlighted with the gold, turquoise and pink baubles of her dreams. These non-toxic, safe crowns are hand-crafted in North Carolina.
For the more practical, there are organic Jammies (pajamas) and for the stylish, an incredible selection of children’s clothing. The choices for girls and boys are eye-catching, phenomenal and unique. Most are complete outfits, with jackets, shirts and everything matched up just perfectly. It takes the guessing out of dressing.
“It’s a very put-together outfit,” said James, “and always charming and stylish. People can buy boutique-type items here without paying boutique prices.”
There is also an array of formal holiday clothing, christening gowns and first Communion ensembles among other things.
The fetching array of stuffed animals include unique little animals handmade by an artisan in Elk Grove. Since they are carried by Dandelions Raising Children Naturally, you can be sure they are made of the highest quality, ecologically-friendly and safe material. You can have the confidence that any of the darling critters found at Dandelions weren’t mass-produced in a sweat shop overseas.
Another wonderful item carried by Dandelions Raising Children Naturally is Charlie’s Soaps.
Perfect for the very young, the elderly and anyone sensitive, these soaps and products are non-toxic, phosphate-free, hypoallergenic and residue-free.
Like all of their merchandise, everything is guaranteed. This elegant store radiates old time values and imparts the confidence that comes with the knowledge that everything is selected and tested to the highest standards.
Teachers, parents, grandparents and friends can buy things for their loved ones, knowing that the best and most natural products are used. They also have a large selection of safety equipment, like cabinet fasteners, gates, baby monitors, breast-feeding supplies and handy items to make fresh, natural homemade baby food, among other things.
A gift registry makes it possible to buy for the infant/mother-to-be with complete confidence.
And yes, they have good old-fashioned, natural cloth diapers and all the accoutrements.
Since the store opened in April 2010, repeat business has been phenomenal, according to James. Everyone is enchanted by the selection and availability of top quality items.
Not only is the store well-stocked and beautiful, it would take hours to see all the wonderful things. So if you’re looking for something in particular, just ask.
“We give a lot of individual attention,” said assistant manager Pat Lucas. “People love the beauty; it’s nice quality but affordable. We try our best to fulfill special needs and special orders.”
A virtual garden
While it is hard to explain the allure, selection and beauty of this children’s paradise, “The Teaching Garden” is truly an organic and tangible experience. There is a plethora of books, of course, but the educational materials are stunning.
Beautiful surroundings and little tables and chairs make it a great place for children to kick back and enjoy learning and books.
They have wooden blocks, even in Braille and American Sign Language. The math blocks are a wonderful tool that make counting and simple math second nature — as it should be.
There are language blocks, including Swedish, Japanese, Hebrew, French, Spanish and Italian, just to name a few. The language blocks make language learning fun and simple.
There are even nursery rhyme blocks, making those little verses up close and personal. Nursery rhymes, as silly as they may seem to adults, delight the developing mind, imagination and rhythm of children — verses that have survived over the centuries simply because they are so appealing and real to little children, enhancing language and thought skills in invisible, yet spectacular ways.
If a child has an inquisitive mind (as all of them do), “The Teaching Garden” is a garden of delight. There are lots of scientific experiments and kits that let kids explore the world of science, nature and astronomy.
There are lots of charts by “Borders,” making geography and other subjects readily accessible and visually attractive.
There are also wonderful, abundant art supplies to nourish their creative souls.
Sometimes the best education is simply letting children naturally choose their interests. So whether you wish to buy an alluring, yet educational gift, or prefer to bring your children and grandchildren to choose their own toys, books and puzzles, “The Teaching Garden” is a virtual paradise and harbinger of scholastic success.
A virtual experience
One of the most delightful things at Dandelions Raising Children Naturally is the artwork. The store serves as a gallery for Cathie Urquhart’s murals. This local artist’s enchanting murals make a wonderful motif for bedrooms and classrooms. Not only do sample murals grace the store, there are referral forms and brochures, opening the door to walls of delight and magic, no matter what theme is chosen.
Gift wrapping is always provided at the store, along with that sincerity, customer service and helpfulness that is the hallmark of good business.
James said that their location across from Safeway and TJ Maxx has brought many happy clients their way. It is a convenient, visible location with ample parking.
For more information about the store, the products, services and philosophy, visit the Website at Dandelionsusa.com., or better yet, come to the store. The store is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. everyday, and the phone number is 530-642-2022.
They are in the process of booking special Santa visits, photos and other activities for the holidays, but going there is always special anyway.