When Beth Buck opened Lovely Bump in San Bruno 15 years ago, it was to help new families find good quality items at a cheap price compared to its original retail value.
Customers are also able to trade in their own items for babies and kids in exchange for store credit.
However, because of COVID-19, there have been some adjustments. The store was closed from March 17 to May 17, when it started with curbside pickup. With that, customers could call and order items that would be brought to their cars.
Due to COVID-19, Beth closed the store on March 17, 2020 through May 17, 2020. The store started with curbside pick-up where customers would call and order their items, and the workers would bring their purchased items out to their cars.
The store now allows three people per group in the store, with three groups of people maximum. They have always been machine washing their clothes even before the pandemic started, but now they spray sanitizer daily on the gear that comes into their store. Buck’s sanitizer is homemade with water, a little bit of bleach and alcohol.
“The gear has to sit 10 minutes outside, clean it with clean towels, then bring it in,” Buck said.
While this has been an adjustment, opening the store 15 years ago was quite the journey. She started a swap meet-like boutique “Mommy To-Be Maternity” in her South San Francisco garage to help new families. She sourced the clothing from Goodwill and Craigslist and, with the encouragement of her customers, opened her own store.
She researched and observed certain areas to figure out the location and, after realizing how many pregnant women stroll down San Mateo Avenue in San Bruno, she knew it was the perfect place. Before opening her new store, she also quit her job as a teacher for the South San Francisco Unified School District.
When she first opened her store, another family store called, Lullaby Lane, was right across from her. The only difference between the two was that Lullaby Lane sold new and expensive items. The store closed in 2011.
As she scouted the area, she went into Lullaby Lane and told the owner about her plan. Buck was given their blessing to open and signed the lease to where Lovely Bump is still located today.
She chuckled as she explained her struggles when she started her business.
“I was actually in debt for seven years when I opened this. Even though I don’t make a lot of profit now, the pros outweigh the cons,” she said.
Lovely Bump was coined as a nickname in Buck’s family for generations. The idea of the name came to her while she was nursing her newborn child and called him a lovely bump.
“All of my kids have grown up in this store, so it’s nice to have a business of your own where you can watch your kids instead of staying at home,” said Buck.
Buck wasn’t alone from the very start, she had her friend Barbara at her side. Barbara helped Buck with the boutique in her garage, and when Buck decided to turn a weekend gig into an actual store, Barbara didn’t want to take the risk and the two went their separate ways.
Half of the profit they made in the garage went to Barbara, and since then, she has settled in Los Angeles.
Buck has never seen or heard a store like hers before, and people from all over the Bay Area or just flew in from another place come to her store especially if they need a stroller for a cheap price.
“I wish we had something like this where I lived,” she said, “is what people have told me over and over again.”
What started from just a weekend swap meet in her garage turned into a huge space for second-hand toys, children’s clothes, car seats, furniture, and more.
“Their items in the store are really cute,” said customer Christine Lo.