Sunday, August 17, 2008

Confessions of a Children's Clothes-aholic

When Cordy was little, I was completely addicted to Gymboree. She was dressed in head-to-toe Gymboree most of the time, even sleeping in Gymboree PJ's. I couldn't pass a Gymboree in the mall without stopping and falling in love with some new outfit. I followed message boards about upcoming lines, looking at pictures and planning what I'd buy next.

If you've never been to Gymboree, I'll add in this: it's expensive. Children's clothing is already expensive considering you blink and that loose-fitting top you purchased a month ago is now a crop top. Most of the dresses are usually between $25-38, with very simple, plain tops often starting at $12. I suppose there are a lot more expensive clothing options out there, but for a middle class family, Gymboree was our high fashion.

When I switched from full-time to part-time work, I knew I wasn't going to be able to spend so freely on Cordy's clothing. So I searched online and found that some people had Gymboree buying down to a science. They purchased during big sales, took advantage of the Gymbuck program, and then sold their outgrown clothing on eBay or Gymboree message boards.

I started shopping with an eye for value. I shopped the sales racks, and often waited for the severe markdowns. I'd buy pieces during the end-of-season sales, buying an entire year ahead: for example, I'd buy fall and winter pieces in larger sizes when they started to bring in spring and summer lines, and then save them until the next fall and bring them out. I'd also plan my spending so that I could earn Gymbucks (which are coupons giving you $25 off each $50 you spend) and plan more sale purchases during the redemption period, using the Gymbucks to give me even better deals.

Once she outgrew an outfit, I'd decide if I wanted to save it or sell it. I always took very good care of Gymboree clothing, knowing it has a high resale value. Selling an item right before it comes into season (like spring clothing in February) usually gives you the best resale price. I sometimes traded for other clothes I wanted on special websites designed for selling or trading Gymboree, too.

I loved buying dresses that were originally $34 for $12 or less. If I could work in a Gymbuck, too, all the better. My best bargains, though, were the clothing I bought on sale at deep discounts that I then resold for more than I spent on them! I once sold a fancy Christmas dress on eBay for $30 - I bought it two years before in the after-Christmas sales for $10, then Cordy wore it once a year later for a holiday party.

Looking over all I've spent and resold, I've probably made back at least 3/4 of the money I spent on Gymboree clothing. And I still have several dresses, tops and leggings that Cordy wore that I've saved for Mira. Once Mira is done with them, I'll probably try to sell some of those items, too, saving the pieces with the most sentimental value in her memory box. I don't buy Gymboree much anymore, now that finances are tight, but I still have a lot leftover for Mira to wear, and once our situation improves I know I'll be drawn into it again.

If you like Gymboree, look at message boards and trading groups and learn how to follow the sales. There's no reason to pay full price for it, especially knowing that nearly all of their clothing has a regular markdown schedule. If you shop smart and can buy ahead, you can dress your kids in Gymboree without taking out a second mortgage for a new wardrobe!

You can find even more shopping tips this weekend over at the Parent Bloggers Network. They're running a blog blast featuring best bargain stories, sponsored by Eight gift cards are up for grabs for those who participate!


trish caston said...

you and i share something in common. bargain addictions.

i found a fantastic site, well, i actually cannot take credit, a girlfriend of mine forwarded it on, and im totally hooked on the bargains they offer! you should check it out!

Amanda said...

Thanks for the info... LOVE Gymboree.