Secondhand: how the past can save the future

When I was growing up, my Nana brought me shopping at Filene's Basement in Downtown Boston on Wednesdays, and we bought clothing for all 17 of her grandchildren.  She also sewed and created clothing that we loved.  This handmade and bargain clothing was passed around and around the family. 

Swapping clothes happened because saving money made sense. The happy consequence is that it was one more way for us cousins to stay connected. We weren't poor, but Nana was careful with money.  My parents blame Nana for making me the hippie... I mean, eco-conscious person that I am. :) 

My daughters were born in 1987 and 1989.  My siblings and most of my friends did not have children at the time.  Some of my cousins had children, but we were now spread out and didn’t see each other as often.  I realized that our old tradition of families and neighbors trading clothes had all but gone away. 

My concept was a shop where parents could meet, exchange clothing and share their parenting experiences.  One day, I called my Mom, and with a very excited voice, I told her that women were breastfeeding on the floor, while their children were playing in the playhouse.  She said, "that sounds, well... good, I guess?"  But she knew, this was what I had envisioned (at this time, my shop was called Mother & Child). I was very happy. We had begun to create a community of parents who cared about each other and the planet.

30 years later, we’re known as M&C and have grown to offer clothing and goods for teens and adults, as well and children and parents-to-be.  Our customers include children and grandchildren of our original customers.

The focus is bigger, yet exactly the same: Buy less. Quality over quantity. Re-use and then pass it on. Shopping secondhand allows us to save money and clothing from landfills, and puts money back into the pockets of our consignors.

It's possible that there is already enough stuff on the planet. Maybe we need to stop creating stuff from virgin resources. Let's look at what already exists and find ways to re-use or re-invent the stuff that already exists. Be aware of how your actions affect the community, the planet and future generations.

This milestone has made me so thankful and hopeful. Thankful for everyone that is part of the M&C community and the difference that every purchase makes both globally and locally. Hopeful for the opportunities we have to make positive change in the world.

Thank you for being part of something bigger than ourselves.   -Karen Goddard


  • Congratulations Karen on 30 years!
    As a 4 digit consignment number I too have been with you since the beginning! My son is 30 and that is when I first started coming to Mother and Child with my Mom! Absolutely an amazing journey for you and I’m honored to be a part of your success 😊 30 years later and I am still consigning and buying…yesterday I scored brand new booties and a sweater for my son😍 Thanks for your contribution to the world 🌎

    Michelle Hartmann
  • I love this store! Original handmade jewelry beautifully scented soaps , clean and stylish gently used and repurposed clothing shoes and bags!!! The friendly helpful staff is also a big bonus!

    Fran Lynch
  • I remember when you were on Main Street in Nashua. One of the women I was working with told me about your shop. Bought some of my Children’s first toys from you! Keep up the great work that you are doing and I will see you soon…with the second generation…my Grandchildren!

    linda Pope

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