Beach Baby Rentals, LLC of Southwest Florida

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Monthly Archives: January 2014

  • Gender Stereotypes, Baby Rentals, and You

    Beach Baby Rentals is a new business, and as such, we are gradually building our inventory beyond the basics (cribs, strollers, car seats) based on customer requests and needs.  One of our offerings is a bag of indoor toys available for rent.  We ask parents for the age of the child, but very often we are offered the age and sex of the child, with the implication that the toys should be gender specific.  And while we are trying to tailor our offerings to customer desires, the gender-specific toy selection is difficult.

    Gender Stereotypes and Baby Rentals Typical Doll for a 5-7 yr old

    Take a look at the doll on the right.  This is one of the selections that comes up if you search for dolls for 5-7 yr olds on one of the major ecommerce websites. And if you walk through a toy store, you'll see much the same - girls toys are either focused on princesses or hypersexualized dolls that tell our little girls one thing and one thing only - be a princess or be sexy. Continue that walk through the boy's toy section, and you'll find tools, sports gear, trucks, and science kits (and if there are dolls, they are monsters or superheroes).

    So what does all this mean for parents?  Here is a nice article that appeared this morning on about this very issue and a new book on the topic that might help parents navigate this very tricky issue.  The author, Melissa Adkins Wardy, also has a website Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies that markets t-shirts with positive messages for boys and girls.

    She notes in the article, "You have to connect the dots," she said. "With princess culture and all these pink toys that are almost always focused on fashion and beauty and how a girl can please somebody else, either by keeping a nice house or looking like a perfect princess, that all segues into the sexualization side of the market."

    "Once you're done with princesses, if you are growing up in that girly-girly culture, the next thing offered to you are these sexualized dolls and you are growing up too fast," she said. "You are being introduced into adult concepts of sexuality that otherwise wouldn't be present in toys and it doesn't allow a girl to develop on her own, and at her own pace."

    And this can adversely impact boys too:  "It teaches children there is only one way to be a girl and one way to be a boy," she said. "When you have a little girl like mine who is obsessed with the ocean and giant squids and insect infestations in homes, she's considered weird or odd or a tomboy when in fact, science and things like that should be considered girly."

    So this morning, I spent a few hours trying to select age appropriate toys that are non-gendered.   Of course, there are a lot of learning toys that meet that characterization.  But beyond that, it is hard to find gender neutral toys, especially as the age category increases.  While infant toys are generally fine, once you get into the 3 year old category, the genderization takes hold very strongly.

    So if you rent toys from us, expect to find a heavy dose of fun toys geared towards learning, coordination, and exercise, and very few gendered toys.  You'll see Sesame Street characters, but not Disney princesses.  As a business, this works for us as our selection of toys can be enjoyed by both boys and girls.  But it also fits in to our view of how little children benefit from play without being loaded down with unhelpful gender stereotypes.


  • Thank You Ft. Myers Beach!

    Beach Baby Rentals, LLC opened its virtual doors on December 11, 2013 after we, Kathryn Friedman and Beth Freeman, moved here in June from the north (well, at least this winter DC qualifies as the north!).  In that very short time, we've found Fort Myers Beach (FMB Baby!) to be an incredibly warm, friendly, and embracing place for us to establish our lives and our new business.  We've met so many people on Estero Island and in the broader community that have absolutely welcomed us with grace and an unfailing community spirit.  To say we are happy to be living here and building a business amidst this community and natural beauty is a gross understatement. In short, we are elated.  And to that end, we offer a sincere thank you Ft. Myers Beach!

    We launch this blog as part of our effort to embrace that community in return - to highlight the many wonders of living here, snowbirding here,  or vacationing here, and also to shine a light on our efforts to build Beach Baby Rentals into yet another important piece of the business community that makes this such a great place to vacation.  We'll be updating our readers on happenings in the community, on tips for traveling or vacationing with babies and toddlers, on the wonders of nature we see along the way, on our experiences while building this business, and other random meanderings.

    Our business is off to a very promising start.  We are getting great feedback from our customers, reservations are increasing steadily, and most importantly, we are rapidly learning how to successfully run this, our first entrepreneurial activity.  We're getting referrals from friends, neighbors, property management operations, and many accommodations and local businesses.  Our website is functioning well, and many of our customers appreciate the ease of ordering directly online with no phone call necessary.  Other customers are happy making reservations by calling us directly, and that's just fine with us.  We love talking to folks planning vacations or visits from friends and family.

    But this, our first blog entry, is meant to serve one primary purpose, and that is to thank so many people and organizations that have offered up generous assistance to us and wise advice on how to succeed as a service business in a tourist-centric economy.  While there are too many to name individually here, we'd like to give a shout out to a few of them.

    Perhaps our most important support thus far has come from the folks at the Ft. Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce.  Specifically, Bud Nocera, Katrina Solakar, and Cindy D'Andrea were super helpful to us in helping us become members of the Chamber and to take advantage of the promotional and networking opportunities available to Chamber members.  If you're doing business in Ft. Myers Beach and haven't joined the Chamber, your're missing out on a great experience and entree into the local business community.

    Also on that list of exceptionally valuable assistance is the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau and their web presence The Beaches of Ft. Myers-Sanibel.  Executive Director Tamara Pigott and Director of Marketing and Communications Laura Chmielewski and her team have so enthusiastically offered advice, assistance, and opportunities to market Beach Baby Rentals to folks all over the U.S..

    Thank You Ft. Myers Beach You'll see us on the road all over Ft. Myers Beach, Sanibel, and the greater Ft. Myers area!
    Thank You Ft. Myers Beach Our Beach Baby!

    If you see our red truck on the road making deliveries, give us a honk or a wave.  We love seeing friends on the road.   And don't hesitate to contact us with suggestions or questions.  We are still building our inventory in response to customer needs and requests.  We can be reached by email at or by phone at 239-765-0032.



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