SANTA FE, N.M. — Young Jack and Caden Couillard may be developing abandonment issues — not so much with the grown-ups in their lives but with their baby furniture — the strollers, beds, chairs, even their toys.
"This last Thanksgiving, I had to put them at the big peoples' table because I needed the highchairs," mom Kerri Couillard recalled.
Couillard recently began renting out baby furniture and other child-associated stuff. And every once in a while, she still gets a call for a piece of baby equipment she doesn't happen to have neatly organized and stacked in her garage at her home in south Santa Fe. It's then she may start eyeing something Jack, 18 months, or Caden, 3, may be lying on, sitting in or playing with at the time.
It all began back in May when Couillard noticed all the out-grown baby gear piling up in their garage. "I was looking at this huge, massive pile of baby stuff — balancers, highchairs, toys and car seats that the kids had grown out of ... and my husband, Jason, says 'Kerri, it's time to get rid of this.'
"Well, I was a mom with two kids and I was not ready to part with the baby stuff, so I was thinking, what can I do and still hold on to this stuff?"
Thus was born Santa Fe Baby.
Couillard said it was simple and inexpensive to get up and running.
Being a professional website developer, she quickly put up a site and "I just started with what I already owned. So I didn't spend any money, at all ... I had a rental before I was even ready." (Hence Jack and Caden's vanishing toy and furniture problems.)
Plus, Jason Couillard works at Kokopelli, the vacation property rental company, so there was a workable connection there.
Kerri Couillard said the first things she ever rented out were a car seat and a box full of toys.
"That makes sense," she said, "because you got people coming here for vacation and you can't throw a bunch of toys into a bag (for airplane travel)."
She figures that about 70 percent of her business comes from families who are visiting Santa Fe.
That was the case for the Noah Cohen family of Tucson, Ariz., who occasionally rent a home for short visits to New Mexico.
"It was all set up when we got there," said Cohen, who rented a crib and two protective gates for stairs and such for the family's 2-year-old. "I never even saw (Couillard), but she was very responsive."
He said the family has tried staying at hotels for their visits but end up with the hotel's "baby crib out of a horror movie."
Couillard will even deliver items to the Santa Fe airport, greeting visitors with car seats, strollers or whatever else they need.
Another big share of her business comes from local grandparents who want to be ready for visits by grandchildren.
"This is perfect," said Susan Hoffman of Eldorado. Planned visits by her granddaughter from San Antonio, Texas, got her to thinking "Oh my, am I going to have to buy all this stuff?"
"I don't have room to store it all, and there was no point in buying a lot because (kids) grow out of it so fast."
Hoffman said that last summer she rented a Pack N Play bed, a Jumperoo and a baby-carrier hiking backpack.
"It's great for the parents, too, because they come for a short time, and who wants to pack up all that stuff?"
Couillard said she makes sure that all the items are super cleaned with a hypoallergenic soap, and that that cribs and other items are in tip-top condition. And she sets up the cribs herself.
She also keeps track of recall notices from makers of baby cribs and other equipment. "I really stay on top of that."
If your kid needs or wants it, Santa Fe Baby can probably rent it to you. From double strollers and deluxe full-size cribs with linens for about $15 a day to smaller items such as blankets, books, night lights, baby monitors, bibs silverware and bottle sets, all in the range of $2 to $5 a day.
There are plans afoot to expand Baby Santa Fe to Chicago and other cities, where the moms can use the software on Couillard's website to keep track of rentals, inventories and other business matters.
But she warned that "a business like this isn't for moms who have (emotional ties) to their kids' items."
Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com