A helping hand

. February 12, 2013.

Times can be tough in more ways than one, as Elyssa Mount knows only too well.

That’s why the 44-year-old Dexter mother of two is doing something about it. Mount is the co-owner of Grow With Me, an Ann Arbor resale boutique, that offers new and gently used high quality
children’s clothing, games, toys, high chairs, jogging strollers and other kid’s gear. Portions of the sales proceeds are donated to several area charities, including the Ann Arbor Autism Foundation, the Judson Center, Different Paths Newsletter – geared to parents of children with special needs and the Autism Society of Washtenaw County. “Since we’ve opened, it’s close to $30,000,” said Mount.

Giving back

Mount’s little boy has been diagnosed with autism. “He’s high functioning. Though affected by it – he’s delayed socially and academically, he can function in a regular classroom with an aide,” she said. “I feel fortunate that he’s done as well as he has.” Children with autism maintain a spectrum of abilities. “They can be so different from each other. They need to have a language and social deficit.
They need to have stimming – they may line things up or spin around or flap their hands. There’s so many different aspects,” she said. “A lot of the children are really bright but we can’t reach them with typical means.” She learned of her child’s difficulty when he was small. “My son didn’t look at you even when he was a baby,” she said.

The area’s financial downturn has an especially punishing effect on moms and dads of kids with special needs. “I wanted to help parents of children with autism. Most therapies are not covered by insurance,” she said. “I hope it will change in the future.” Little ones can have fun in Mount’s store while their parents shop for bargains. Children can watch movies, read a book or play with a wooden train. “I started the store when the economy was bad. Resale shopping makes sense because you can buy something like new for 25 percent of the price.”

A wide variety of American and European brands are available at Grow With Me, including Gymboree, Gap, Justice (for older girls), Old Navy, Children’s Place, Oilily and others. People can also sell clothes and kid-friendly items to the shop for cash or store credit. “I think we have a lot of different customers. Some are quite well off, but frugal and concerned about the economy or they simply want to pay a fraction of the cost,” she said. “Some come in and target our dollar room for a bargain.” The clothing in the dollar room includes items that are less popular or have not sold for a while. Fifty percent of the proceeds of those items are donated to the shop’s charities, along with one percent of the store’s year-end profits. Helping disabled children through her shop has been a blessing to Mount. “I couldn’t even imagine it would be this rewarding,” she said.

2521 Jackson Ave. (in the Westgate Shopping Plaza). 734-622-0224. www.growwithme123.com