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Why this Toronto mom opened a preloved kidswear shop during the pandemic

If there’s one upside to the pandemic, it’s the sense of creativity many people have rediscovered since spending more time at home. Toronto mom Nyla Obaid became one of those people when she started her own preloved childrenswear brand, the Lode Store, on top of working and parenting full-time from home in May 2020.

Obaid says the idea came to her while spending more time at home with her children, ages two and four, and noticing how fast they were outgrowing their clothes and toys. She decided to put some items up for sale on Instagram, and what started as a side hustle quickly grew into a booming business.

“I knew a lot of other moms who were stuck at home and feeling overwhelmed during the pandemic,” she says. “I felt really helpless to do anything in my community because in normal times, I’d go bring my friend food or just go for a chat. I wanted to add value to the world during a rough time.”

As a young mom herself, Nyla hand selects each item she sells at the Lode Store, ensuring everything is gender inclusive, accessible and stylish in a modern, minimalist sense. Her litmus test is to select only those items she would buy for her own kids — or something better.

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“It’s important for everything at the Lode Store to be accessible to everybody,” Obaid says. “All the books I carry are by diverse authors and feature diverse stories, and I don’t carry any products that are culturally appropriating.”

Having grown up wearing hand-me-downs herself, Obaid says the resale business came naturally to her. With the Lode Store, she’s putting her eye to good use by helping busy parents skip the step of sifting through hundreds of items to find a diamond in the rough.

“Fast fashion has never really been an option in our household,” she says. “But I know going to Value Village can be difficult, especially with kids in tow because you have to rummage through things. I feel like I’ve developed an eye for that, so the Lode Store is offering second-hand clothing that has already been curated.”

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With a sense of community being a high priority for Obaid, she donates 15 per cent of her proceeds to Black Lives Matter Canada. She says much of her supply comes from local parents, so the profits are being shared among the community, and she also involves her own immediate family in every step of the process.

“It really is a family business in the strongest sense,” Obaid says. “Sometimes my kids model the clothes, they test every toy we get, we read all the books together. That’s probably a result of the pandemic too, because we’re all always together at home so there’s no work-life separation, but on the flip side I really enjoy it.”

Obaid says the Lode Store has really taken off since the early days of lockdown, and she’s now looking to expand the store to a brick-and-mortar location in addition to the online shop. The Lode Store delivers anywhere in Canada and North America, and offers free delivery in Toronto. Visit lode.to to shop.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO