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Shopping after the stork arrives - Manhattan Avenue’s Stork Store meets expecting and new mothers’ needs

As if launching her own business, a store catering to the needs of newborns and young families earlier this year was not hectic enough, Stephanie Watson-Campbell was in the process of birthing and caring for her first child.

“My daily routine has changed,” the new mother said. “I definitely get less bathroom time to wash my hair, but I get to bring my son to work with me. It’s a great social environment for him. He gets to meet different children and different age groups.”

In the four months Stork Store (580 Manhattan Avenue) has been open, Watson-Campbell has seen a diverse range of new and expectant mothers and young couples stop in to pick up baby supplies and inquire about pregnancy classes. Staff members at local day care centers walk their children by the store during the summer time, sometimes stopping in to say hello.

“I was living here five years ago and there were no babies,” Watson-Campbell said. “All a sudden there are lots of babies. All the young people coming here are starting families.”

Watson-Campbell launched the store to provide a center for education and support for expectant mothers and families looking to plan their pregnancy. In addition to the books child supplies, and maternity specialty items, the store hosts new mother support groups with lactation specialists designed to ease the anxieties of pregnancy and breastfeeding. There are classes in music, baby sign language and childbirth education for young families every week, as well as a breastfeeding circle on Mondays.

“Everyone has different issues so we try to cover our support for each family to meet their needs,” Watson-Campbell said.

Amanda Quijada Driggs, who has lived in Williamsburg for 15 years, walked past the store when she was eight months, three weeks pregnant. Now she brings her weeks old son Aidan by to pick up supplies and information about raising her son she believes she would not learn otherwise.

“She helped me emotionally, embraced me with open arms and answered all of my little questions,” Quijada Driggs said.

Being a new mother has gotten her more involved politically in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Watson-Campbell hopes to expand her in-store support groups to more community activities. The store is sponsoring a sit-out at McCarren Park on September 6, where mothers in the surrounding neighborhood are invited to come to the park to participate in a breastfeeding circle.

“It’s a sit-out, not a sit-in,” Watson-Campbell said. “A sit-in is when mothers go to a store or business and breastfeed there to protest the business’ anti-pregnancy practices. A sit-out is not overtly political, but it is inherently so.”

Watson-Campbell is also planning activities in local schools and day care centers and wants to get more involved advocating for day care centers which are currently clashing with the Administration for Children’s Services and the mayor’s office over a new enrollment-based funding system scheduled for implementation later this year.

“I think we’re on the cusp of getting parents involved in demanding changes,” Watson-Campbell said. “I see a lot of parents saying if I can’t find it I’m going to make it happen.”

The Stork Store is located at 580 Manhattan Avenue. For more information, call 718-360-1732.

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