Chain of parenting centers abruptly closes

Isis

Isis Parenting, which provided classes, consulting and products for expectant and new mothers, announced yesterday it's closing all of its centers in the area - Back Bay, Arlington, Needham and Hanover.

The chain, which started in Brookline in 2003 - and which provided pre-natal classes for a number of local hospitals - broke the news on its Facebook page last night:

With heavy hearts, we announce the extremely sad news that Isis Parenting must close. Effective immediately, no classes or phone consults will take place.

A number of mothers said they were crying or near tears at the news - and some even offered to raise funds - on top of the fees they were already paying:

I just am so devastated:/ this place was like a second home to me when I had my first. Getting to know the staff at the Needham location and always having a smiling face to greet us. I was looking forward to taking a class with my second in the spring. I'm just completely washed with overwhelming sadness and disbelief. Mothers and babies need you. This is a huge huge loss for the birth and baby community!

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    Comments

    Shame

    By on

    These places were a really good resource for parents. What a shame.

    My sons both took classes in Arlington and my wife used the lactation consultant services during some difficult nursing problems with our first. The new moms group gave my wife someone to talk to that actually understood what she was dealing with.

    The merchandise itself was generally on the pricier side, but I didn't mind given that I could trust that the products were well-vetted. Need a car seat? Have some questions? Good luck with the pimple-faced sales associate at Babies R Us. Instead of 50 car seats, Isis sold maybe 5. And they knew everything about them. Ditto strollers, etc.

    I thought Isis was a shining example of how a small, local, brick and mortar store could succeed against big boxes and the internet. Guess not...

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    Arlington Location of Doom

    Not that I think this is Isis's fault but that location never seems to keep anything long. I've watched it morph about four times since I moved to Medford. It always seems to be something child or parent related.

    And for those who use Avid's ISIS system, the name always threw me off.

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    The one in Brookline is

    The one in Brookline is probably going on eight years old--I remember walking by the store when I visited a boyfriend who lived over there. I broke up with the fella more than seven years ago, so the store had to be there before I did that.

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    Changing demographics in Arlington

    Before the Arlington location was Isis, it was Wild Women Outfitters focused on sporting gear and clothing for women. Young sporty women eventually found partners, sperm donors, or adopted foreign babies, taking the kayak racks off their Subaru's and installing infant seats. So, the location morphed into serving the new needs.

    The location lacks a parking lot, with only street parking. Pregnant moms may need to waddle a distance to the store, given limited drop off space. I can't imagine a bike seat is very comfortable after giving birth either.

    In order to put grandmothers out of jobs, Isis locations have to be near nuclear families without nearby grandparents. Designer baby strollers and outfits have to be in neighborhoods where such things impress the other moms at cafe's and parks, otherwise the huge 2nd hand market for briefly used items strangles new sales there and at Babies R Us. So, Brookline was a great place to launch the business. Not many locations have the right demographics.

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    Very Strange Story Here

    Young sporty women eventually found partners, sperm donors, or adopted foreign babies, taking the kayak racks off their Subaru's and installing infant seats. So, the location morphed into serving the new needs.

    Not quite. Wild Woman marketed to older women ... like 40-60 year olds with a fair amount of money. Women who are far more likely to have retired and sold their houses to younger women and then moved to one of the capes than to have babies.

    I also can't think of a single fellow kayaker mom who stopped kayaking when she had kids, either. Not me, not any of my friends, not any of the younger women I know in the area through the watershed association or kayaking clubs. None. That's just ridiculous.

    Your assumptions about pregnancy are rather bizarre, too. That area has multiple bus lines, and plenty of street parking, but walking is highly recommended for the vast majority of pregnant women anyway.

    Changing demographics, perhaps - but not the ones you think. Wild Women Outfitters ultimately succumbed to rising rents on a business that needed a lot of floor space. The demise of ISIS is partly due to young parents not being able to afford homes in places like Arlington or Brookline anymore.

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    Strange? Just personal experience

    Its what happened to most of my lesbian friends in and around Arlington. With young kids, they don't have time to kayak, surf, or hike much now. Previously, they would shop at WWO, but surely, it was the 40-60 yo women buying the expensive Marmot garments and the like that younger woman didn't have money for. Newbes starting from scratch buy the most gear and need lessons. Others are geared up, representing fewer potential sales. Kayaking doesn't seem as locally popular as before, so fewer people getting fully outfitted. Baby goods are similar. Sell mostly to new moms, not so much to those on the 2nd or 3rd kid.

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    The "baby bargains" book by

    By on

    The "baby bargains" book by husband and wife time the fields is a great resource. and no need to insult the big box stores-many people (me included) had their baby seat installed by their car dealer (who best to understand the car) and/or checked out by their local firestation. there are some really good free/low cost resources out there.

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    Isis sold a lot of useful

    By on

    Isis sold a lot of useful goods and services.

    The problem is they priced the useful things as loss leaders to get people in the door and look at a lot of the usual junk.

    Not a good business model in frugal Yankee country.

    Unfortunate Closing

    By on

    My finacee and I used Isis for multiple classes- one pre-birth, then she attended an early mommy-and-me type class.

    They were a great resource and we were able to make some new friends and commiserate with other young folks in our situation (vital on your first child!). I can only hope there was nothing malicious behind their closing.

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    Sad To See Them Close

    I visited the Isis Parenting store at the Pru yesterday and wondered what was up - the store seemed like a shell of what it once was. I agree with other comments about it being a great resource for parents and the highly knowledgable staff made shopping there a pleasant experience.

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    THANK YOU

    By on

    I'm scratching my head wondering why this is top news on BDC. Must be a slow news day..

    In all seriousness, why is this news? businesses open and close more often than Mark02474 changes his panties.

    I get that people liked this place, but until today I never heard of this place (but I also don't have children)

    anyone want to explain why this is big news? (outside of "i shopped there" reasons)

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    Why news.....

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    The company was affiliated with all the major hospitals in Boston. Also advocated for breastfeeding, which is a huge deal. Isis was a very unique company, so I find it very appropriate to have been on the front page of BDC.

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    Look down the page

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    A viral ad video associated with an upcoming movie is a freakin' headline. BDC is pointless for news.

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    Investors pulled the ripcord?

    Supposedly some employees have posted that the investors (or a major investor) pulled out. No idea if that's true.

    They did get $2.4mil of new funding back in March 2013 and had signed some deal to do store-in-store stuff with Babies'R'Us in Dallas and Atlanta.

    I wonder if this was another case of a small chain killing itself by overreaching on expansion.

    Alternatively, I wonder if some sale of the business fell through at the last minute.

    And they haven't even updated their web page, though their support page on zendesk does acknowledge what has happened.

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    reply

    By on

    You're definitely right. I just quit Isis less than a month ago because the company was doing terribly. The partnership with B'R'Us was the downfall to this wonderful company.

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    first they came for the

    By on

    first they came for the yuppies, and i said nothing, because i was not a yuppie

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    Sad

    They taught me how to put the baby seat in my Subaru, how to properly prepare tofu, and how to keep my Schwinn within the bike lane while towing my little Madeline in her bubble wagon.

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    In real life...

    ... they stocked a lot of items in Arlington that I was able to use with WarriorGirl back when she was WarriorBabyGirl (6 years ago). We got her toddler and booster carseats there (she's still in the booster), and a slew of Melissa and Doug activity stuff.

    She's aged out of Isis' stock-in-trade, but I was planning on a trip in April before we go visit my new grand-niece; I guess I'll have to settle for MagicBeans.

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    Ex-Isis Employee

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    I was fortunate enough to work for this company for over a year. It's a shame new management and close-minded president turned this unique place into just another failed business. A combination of [extremely] poor inter-company growth, change of merchandising dynamics and, what seems like, little-to-no research on demographics on areas for company expansion (i.e, partnership with Babies'R'Us in Georgia & Texas) will be sure to drive any company into the ground.

    I can only hope that this business has inspired people to advocate for a new childbirth education/child development/specialty boutique that can hopefully be executed more successfully. I know so many people that are greatly affected by these locations closing. It was definitely a great resource for new and expecting parents.

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    It's all

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    Sterling Mallory Archer's fault. Now wee baby Seamus has no resources.

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    Classes

    By on

    I am scheduled for Infant CPR this Sunday. This was already a reschedule due to the last winter storm. I can go into labor anytime now, and in the e-mail Isis sent me, they made no mention of returning my $69.00. Doe anyone know if they are giving refunds?

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    Chargeback

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    If they are not giving refunds you can try doing a chargeback on your credit card - I think you have something like 3-6 months to do it and in cases like these it's usually the easiest way to recover your funds.

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    Not surprised

    By on

    I fit their demographic perfectly and Isis initially seemed like a good idea and when I was pregnant with my first child in 2004, I was excited to go to their store and classes. The Isis near me, however, in Needham, was difficult to get to and every time I went there I was shocked by the smug and sanctimonious staff.

    I was not welcomed nor did I wish to pay over the top prices just because something is labelled 'European' I myself am European and know how much cheaper those items can be.

    I did, in fairness, get some good nursing bras there and could see that if you had lots of money, didn't work, and needed a like-minded supportive community, it could be good for you.

    As a working mother with an eye on the faltering economy, I chose instead to use craigslist and hand-me-downs and then go back to work. For my second child in 2007 I went again for more nursing bras and met the same sanctimommy brigade, no thank you.

    tl;dr: I'm not surprised they have shut down, they were over priced and self-important.

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    We found this to be true as

    By on

    We found this to be true as well, until the last year or two. Whereas the employees used to be out and about, offering to help (not pushy, just eager to share anything that might help you) they were mostly now younger people jabbering behind the counter. My wife said they had also grown a lot more stingy about follow up consultations, make up classes, etc.

    Wonder if the downturn coincides with the new management other posters have mentioned.

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    FWIW ...

    By on

    https://www.facebook.com/CaterinaEtc/posts/10152520305644045

    You may have heard that Isis Parenting is closing. We heard last night and were shocked by the news. The classes offered at Isis were a great complement to ours, and we'd like like to invite any parent or caregiver with an Isis class receipt to attend our birth to 3 year classes, free of charge, through the end of March 2014. Will you help us spread the word?