Sunday, December 5, 2010


AAAAHHHH!! It's time to get excited, folks. How can I get you to catch my enthusiasm? Hmm...I don't know, but I'm making it my personal challenge today. If you know a living, breathing child just keep reading, for all that is good in this world, you need to keep reading.

We are quickly approaching the biggest, best, most amazing sale of the year for children's clothing. It's at Gymboree, and it's knock your socks off good. And every time it rolls around I look like that crazy black friday Target lady.  You know the one.

I am so not joking (ask Eric) and if there are any Gymboree execs reading this, I will GLADLY be this lady for you should you start airing commercials on TV. I promise, I will shamelessly make a fool of myself on your behalf. Just think about it, wont you? :) 

So, let's get down to business. First of all, I buy the bulk of my children's clothing from Gymboree - I would say roughly 90% of their outfits are purchased at this store. There is something about the quality of their clothing that just cannot be beat. The materials are thick, the colors are vibrant, their shirts are mostly embroidered (not screen-printed), and they hold up really well in the wash. I LOVE that Gymboree releases their clothing in "lines" so that you can mix and match tops and bottoms of coordinating colors and patterns to suit your taste. And my absolute favorite thing about their clothes: the accessories! The hats, the shoes, the tights, the socks, the gloves, the purses, the jewelry, the sunglasses...and they all match their respective lines to make complete, put together, a-dor-a-ble outfits.

 Candy Shoppe and Palm Springs

Falling For Monkeys and Gingerbread Girl

But should you walk into their store on any given day, you might just have a heart attack if you look at the price tags. $39.99 for a vest? $35.00 for a cardigan? Swoon, thump...ouch. Wait a minute, I thought this chic was supposed to be pinching her pennies and paying off debt. What a stinkin' hypocrite. 

Hehe. You know where I'm going with this, right? Do I pay those prices for Gymboree clothes? Heck to the no! Not even close. I take that $39.99 price tag, chew it up, swish it around, and spit it out until it turns into a $5.60 price tag. I pick up that t-shirt that says it cost $19.95, do a little slight of hand, and presto! It now costs $3.20. How do I do it?

Why, I shop the semi-annual Big Red Balloon Sale, of course, AND I do so with a 20% off coupon in my hand. I go shopping twice a year  for my kid's clothing and stock the closet up until it's busting at the seams in anticipation for the coming season. But there is a bit of strategy to getting the most out of this sale. I was once a novice, but now I've got it all figured out. ;)

Happy Hippos

Everything that is included in the sale is priced at $6.99 and under. Everything. You'll pay the highest price for things like coats, dresses, one-peice outfits, and jeans. Tops and shorts are usually $3.99 and $4.99 depending on the detailing, and accessories are .99. That's right...ninety-nine cents! And what is NUTS is that they let you stack a coupon on top of the already deeply discounted sale prices. With a 20% off Gymboree coupon, you won't pay more than about $5.60 for anything, and those accessories become .79! 

Why do they sell their boutique clothing so cheaply at this sale? Because you're buying last season's fashions. Eek! No! Last season? Haha. And last season meaning the clothes that were sitting on the racks at full price just six months ago. So yes, you are buying ahead at this sale. Don't expect to walk out of the store with bags bulging full of clothes that your kid will wear tomorrow. In the Summer you'll find clothes for your little one to don in the fall and winter, and at the winter sale you'll be looking for spring and summer fashions. 

Watermelon Picnic

And let me tell you, if you don't enjoy shopping, this may not be the sale for you. You will find many selections on the rounders where you can easily file through and see what they have available, but you'll also have to do a little digging. For me, half the fun is in the hunt! Each store has their own stock of inventory left over which they'll continuously pull from the back room as the sale progresses. Some of these items are hung nicely, but lots are thrown into bins where you have to dig, dig, dig to find just what you're looking for in just the right size. There'll be itty bitty baby clothes thrown in with size 10 big kid's clothes, boys mixed in with the girls, etc. The accessory bins are the same way. Socks, underwear, shoes, jewelry, etc. are all thrown together in various lines, sizes, and both genders.

I'm not going to lie, my heart beats a little faster just thinking about diving into those bins. Oh, what fun! :)

Candy Shoppe

Now for my personal strategy. I've been shopping this sale for a couple of years now, and there's a definite science to how this thing works. I've watched less-expirienced mamas get overwhelmed and walk out of the store before, because they just don't get it. Don't be that mama (or grandmama, or aunt, or friend). Take a deep breath, and follow my advice. 

First of all, you have to pick the right stores to get the best selection. Gymboree has three different kinds of stores: first tier, second tier, and third tier. First tier stores get EVERYTHING in stock and they get it in the largest quantities. Second and third tier stores may not always get every piece in the line, and they stock way less inventory (meaning less leftovers for RBS!) So go to the first tier stores FIRST. In my area those stores are at the St. Louis Galleria and at Chesterfield Mall. (It's worth the trip!)

Special Occasion

Once you're in the store go to the accessory bins first. I know this sounds backwards, but trust me. If you want to complete the outfits with matching hats or shoes or sunglasses, then this is very important. There will be a lot of accessories at the tier one stores, but they are all RARE. Meaning, the hat you're looking for to match the "Happy Hippos" outfit you found may be in there, but there's only one or two in your size and you have to snatch it fast before someone else does. Or, in some cases, there may be no hats left in a particular line, so you may decide not to waste your time picking out outfits and digging through the clothing bins looking for that specific design. 

In other words, there are more clothes than accessories, so you'll almost always find an outfit to match an accessory, but you may not always find that perfect accessory to go with the outfit you dug up. Make sense? :) (This is the point where most moms pull their hair and stomp out of the store, haha.)

Super Star

My next piece of advice is to shop multiple stores. Each store, no matter what tier, will have their own unique inventory. It just depends on what sold well or not at that particular Gymboree and what's in the back room. And the higher tier stores will sometimes get inventory shipped to them from other places in the country, so they'll often times have a much more diverse selection. 

When you shop multiple stores, you have a much higher likelihood of completing outfits and finding lots of peices in your personal favorite lines. Just because one store didn't have those awesome shoes you were looking for doesn't mean the next store won't. Once again, it's all in the hunt! Shoppers will LOVE this sale for the thrill of searching out that one elusive item; non-shoppers will want to shoot themselves. 

Pretty Lady

And finally, never, ever, ever shop without a coupon. Yes, the prices are dirt cheap already, but when you can get them 20% cheaper why wouldn't you? If you're like me then you'll probably spend the same amount of money, but you'll get way more for it. This month's coupon can be found in Parenting Early Years magazine. (There may be more, but this is the only one I know for sure. Gymboree coupons are also often found in Parents and Family Fun magazines.) If you become a rewards member for free, you will also get coupons sent you periodically. Make sure you check the expiration date, because most of their coupons are only good for a month!

Jungle Gem

If you want to be really die hard, you can even research the lines that may possibly be included in the sale ahead of time by visiting sites like Click on "Gymboree Lines" and look up what was for sale during the spring and summer months in 2010. That should give you some indication as to what you'll be seeing on the racks so you can start putting together outfits in your head. (Okay, so maybe I'm just a little obsessed with this darn sale. This blog post is like therapy for me, haha.)

Whew! Does your brain hurt yet? Believe me, if we were talking face to face this would be a five-minute conversation, it just looks like a lot all spelled out. Here's the skinny on the tips you need to know:

1. Find your coupon
2. Shop a tier one store first
3. Hit the accessory bins and then dive into the clothing bins
4. Shop multiple stores for more items


Prep School

Are you ready? This year's 2010 Winter RBS begins on Sunday, December 26. That's right. The day after Christmas. Holy moly. I can't even imagine what the malls will be like, but you better believe I will be there! The sale usually lasts for about a week, but don't wait if you can help it. Because the clothing is all leftover inventory, once it's gone it's gone. The first in the pack will get the best selection. 

So who wants to go shopping? Haha. Do you feel like you just attended a seminar? Because I totally feel like I just taught one. Now it's time for you to get some hands on experience. :) I think I should organize my first "Getting There" blog event, where a bunch of crazy ladies pile into a van and shop til we drop. I'll bring a map of every Gymboree store in the bi-state area. Sound good to you? Because I'm only half joking. I told you. I am so that crazy Target lady. Now do you believe me? :)

All About Buttons


Melissa Munger said...

How can I find out a store's tier number? Thanks!

Adrien said...

Good question! You can try this link to find tier one stores, but it's a bit outdated. I know for sure there is a newer store in my area left off of this list.

Your best bet is to call your local store and ask them. They should be able to tell you. Higher end malls are more likely to have the highest tier stores. If there is also a store called Janie and Jack in the mall, more than likely the Gymboree is a tier one!

Anonymous said...

Gymboree's website is showing that they are offering up to 60% off tomorrow. I noticed the ad you used said up to 70% off. Do you know which one is correct? I'm planning on trying out the sale tomorrow and I'm really excited about it!


Adrien said...

70% off. Check the site, again! :) I am sooo excited!

Anonymous said...

You were right! And it was one of the best sales I've ever been to...we got soooo much stuff and saved a ton of money (we saved $1200 to be exact). :) Thanks for putting this on your blog!



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