For thirty-five years now, mothers and grandmothers have made their way to Vermilion Parish to shop at the “baby shop” in the furniture store. In 1980, Earl’s Baby Land, formerly Flo’s Baby Lane, moved out of Miss Flo’s house and into Earl’s Furniture Store on Highway 14 at Grosse Isle. Earl’s, like Miss Flo’s, is known for French hand-sewing. Patterns used generations ago are still being used today.
Most of the elderly ladies who once sewed for Flo’s, and the initial years of Earl’s Baby Land, have passed away. However, one of those ladies at 96 years old is still sewing. Younger local seamstresses today are using the same patterns used decades ago. Hand-sewn Christening dresses, newborn day-gowns, toddler dresses and bonnets, are all reminiscent of those worn by their mothers and grandmothers. Earl’s also offers the same patterns in colors suited to newborn boys. Moms who wish to continue the French tradition of dressing their babies of both sexes in delicate dresses and gowns can readily find a wide variety of clothing. Because these styles are hard to find, Earl’s gets orders from across the U. S. and Canada.
Customers fondly remember “Miss Mattie” who followed the business from Flo’s to Earl’s. Mattie Moss was cousin to both Flo and Earl. She genuinely loved her customers, and had a theory she told to women who wished they could soon find themselves expecting a little one. Mattie would tell them to buy a Christening dress and the little one would come. Customers will testify to the fact that it worked, and they often returned to tell her of their great excitement.
Earl and Nellie Chiasson bought the business from Earl’s cousin Florine Hebert. Earl hoped that the business would employ at least one of his six daughters. Nellie simply wanted to clothe her grandchildren. That has proven to be a wise decision because she has 21 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, with two more on the way. In 2000, Chiasson daughters Janet Dubois and Beth Trahan bought the business from their parents. Although Janet works behind the scene in the furniture department, Beth is in the shop to assist her customers in both homemade and factory made clothing.
Beth and Janet attempt to satisfy customers who want the latest styles and fabrics in children’s fashions, as well as the traditional styles they are known for. In many cases, they are dressing the second and third generations of a family. Mothers and grandmothers often come to add new items to their wardrobes made up of keepsakes worn by those same moms and grand-moms.
The “baby shop” offers sizes well beyond the newborn stage. Girls homemade sizes run up to size 6, and boys to size 4. For boys, Earl’s offers sunsuits and button-on “John-Johns”. French bonnets with lace or piping can be found from newborn through toddler. Special orders for weddings and First Communion can be made up to size 12 for girls, and size 4 for boys. Factory-made clothing for both boys and girls starts at preemie sizes and runs through size 12 for girls and size 4-Toddler for boys.
To make selections easier for the customer, Earl’s names its homemade clothing for members of the family. A customer can call or come in for a boy’s Shay in navy, or an Ava in pink. This eliminates confusion when looking for a particular pattern or accessory detail.
Whether looking for new fashions or old, baby shower gifts or a newborn wardrobe, Earl’s Baby Land is worth a trip to Grosse Isle, between Abbeville and Erath.