“I had long wanted to have my own business,” says Meredith Macaluso. She had been working fulltime at the Chesapeake Retirement Home for 11 years as a recreational therapist in the fitness center. When her husband changed jobs, allowing her the freedom to stay at home, she investigated business possibilities.
Macaluso had noticed a need for temporary use of baby equipment at the Chesapeake. Residents who were grandparents needed baby equipment for visiting grandchildren. While on vacation, she once had to scramble to provide sleeping arrangements for her own child when she discovered the child could get out of the portable bed she had brought with her.
Her research uncovered BabyQuip, a franchise company that rents baby gear to families with a temporary need. Starting as a “mom and pop” operation in New Mexico in 2016, the company now has 350 locations in the U.S. and Canada. High quality baby equipment, toys, games and similar items are available for rental for children from infant to six years. Families can pack lighter and travel more easily, knowing they can get everything they need to keep their children safe and happy on vacation. Another situation that may require equipment rental is corporate relocation. For example, an employee may arrive at his new location before his possessions do.
In addition to cribs, strollers and high chairs, there are “packages,” which group items with a similar use. For example, a “beach” package, with buckets and shovels, would differ from an “indoor” package with games and books. Macaluso owns everything and currently stores it all in her home. “I have everything in protective bags. I’m sure I’ll eventually need a storage unit,” she says.
The company has been very supportive since I joined in May 2018,” says Macaluso. “It provides mentoring and we have ‘virtual meetings,’” she adds.
“Our most popular item is a full-size wood crib with a real mattress. It’s like ‘home,’” Macaluso says. Her husband helps with assembly and heavy lifting. Her ten-year-old son carries light items. “I load up my minivan, then deliver and set up at a family’s hotel or vacation rental. Summer is the busiest season,” she says. “Next would be the holiday season.
“We do not rent bicycles, helmets, life jackets, or bounce houses. I cannot install a car seat. I provide a manual and online video instructions. The fire department will check seat installation and safety,” Macaluso says. “All of this is because of insurance requirements.” The company keeps up with recalls, and cleanliness is essential.
Macaluso serves an area from Williamsburg to Virginia Beach. She also connects with other company members. “We help each other if needed,” she says.
Originally from Richmond, Macaluso attended Old Dominion University, where she met her husband. She has been in Newport News since 2007. “I really love this area,” she says. “I like the beaches, the history, outdoor activities, and we are close to family.” Macaluso has three children. ‘I am a soccer mom,” she adds. She enjoys reading and family vacations at Hilton Head, South Carolina. “We go every year. We fell in love with it.” The family also likes to snow ski. Macaluso loves traveling and hopes to go to Europe some day.
Macaluso is enjoying her new business, which allows her to provide a helpful service while being a full-time mom.
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Contact: Meredith Macaluso, BabyQuip quality provider