Samantha Miller
January 08, 2001 12:00 PM

Mother’s Little Product Tester

Lynne Bruce stocks her Web shop with kids’ stuff that pleases parents—and her daughter

Some businesses have launch parties. Mommy Shop.com had a launch potty. Last year Lynne Bruce, a mortgage broker and single mother in Austin, Texas, was having a tough time toilet-training her daughter Caroline. Then a pal gave her a tip about a musical potty that sings the praises of successful tots. She tracked one down, and it worked like a charm. Says Bruce, 42: “I started thinking, ‘What else is out there I don’t know about?’ ”

She decided to find out. MommyShop.com her seven-month-old Web boutique, showcases about 300 toys and other finds for babies, toddlers and preschoolers—from machine-washable vinyl bibs to that pitch-perfect potty. “What makes us special is everything has been kid-and mom-tested,” says Bruce, who enlists volunteers and one pro: her Chief Product Tester, 5-year-old Caroline. Picks include kiddie classics as well as hard-to-find specialty items: “You can’t raise a child without Fisher-Price,” says Bruce. Business has been brisk enough for Bruce to quit her day job. Now she’s looking for investors to help her expand. But she won’t take just anyone’s cash: “They have to be moms.”

Internet Manners

If I block e-mail from a certain sender, will he or she find out?

It depends. On MSN Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail, messages from e-mailers you blackball simply vanish before they reach your inbox—senders aren’t notified. But America Online bounces blocked mail back with a note saying it was rejected, so don’t use AOL’s feature to duck any cyberpest you’re worried about dissing.

Other popular e-mail programs such as Microsoft Outlook and Eudora let users set up rules to sort incoming mail, so messages from certain addresses can be routed right to the trash. A sender may suspect he’s being ignored, however, if he requests a receipt when his message is read and doesn’t get one.

My Favorite Site

Kim Cattrall

Sex and the City’s resident man-eater prowls the Web for a few good veggies. “I eat only organic food,” she says. So she devours chow from Diamond Organics (diamondorganic.com), a California company that ships locally grown produce and other all-natural edibles. “When I’m working, I use it all the time, because I don’t have time to go shopping,” says Cattrall. “The produce is really, really great. You wouldn’t think it would be, coming in a box, but everything is beautifully wrapped—it’s really fantastic.”

A Hard Day’s Site

Beatles fans can be forgiven for thinking “When I’m Sixty-Four” predicted the launch of an official Web site by the three remaining members and Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono. But thebeatles.com is finally here—in time to hawk that new album of the band’s No. 1 singles. Once you figure out how to move around the high-tech site, you can peek at original recording-session notes, seldom-seen photos and interactive features for the hit tunes. There’s a “Yellow Submarine” video game (repel invading Blue Meanies with flowers!) and a 3-D recreation of the band’s final rooftop performance of “Get Back.” Putting up a Web site “was something we discussed for years and years,” says Jeremy Neech, who managed the project for the Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. Even non-Beatlemaniacs, he contends, “can still have a really good time.” Try the jigsaw puzzles- -found under, natch, “We Can Work It Out.”

Auld Habits Die Hard

Do your New Year’s resolutions rarely last until Groundhog Day? Try a nag-o-gram. At DailyRating.com you can pick a question—such as “How much do you weigh today?”—to be e-mailed to you regularly, then visit the site for a chart of your responses. Not even Mom can hound you more efficiently.

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