how to single-handedly save the retail industry

Last Saturday, I went out with Cooper and Fergus for a busy morning: an “open gym” play time and an 11 am Sippy Cups concert. By noon, they had not only exhausted themselves completely, they had also lost three out of the four gloves we had left the house with.

I brought home the one remaining glove and put it away. Does anyone else do this? Clearly, it is now completely useless, and clearly, I will never find its mate, but I cannot bring myself to throw that fuzzy red mitten away. Part of me still hopes that deep in a pocket I haven’t checked carefully enough yet, its mate might still be lurking. So I’ll save the mismatched mitten for three years and then throw it away, in my spring 2012 fit of home organization. That’s the way I roll.

Since the boys are now down to one pair of mittens/gloves each, I hit the stores yesterday looking for a few replacements to get me through April 1st or so. Surely, I thought, I’d find a large selection; it’s not even mid-January, and it’s the coldest week of the year yet.

I went to three stores: Gap Kids, Children’s Place, and Gymboree. SALE! BIG SALE! NEW REDUCTIONS TAKEN! they beckoned.

But NONE of the three stores had ANY gloves or mittens. “Sorry, they’re all gone,” the salesperson would say, not really at all that sorry, as she folded piles of Easter-themed sweaters and sundresses.

I found this hard to believe. There are at least 8 weeks of winter weather left, and let’s be honest, March doesn’t go out like a lamb, it goes out ass-cold. And all I could see around me were mounds of taffeta, short sleeves, and white knee socks, which NO ONE WAS BUYING.

I keep hearing how these retail chains are suffering, how they’re hemorrhaging money, how they’re struggling to stay alive in this economic environment. So this is an open letter to children’s retailers everywhere:

if you would just sell the clothes kids need NOW, not six months from now, you WILL stay in business. Sell swimsuits past July 1st. Sell mittens until it hits 60 degrees. If I have a 3 month baby, I want a sweater she can wear TODAY. I don’t KNOW what size she’s going to be in six months. Same for maternity clothes. I want something that I don’t look huge in that I can wear TONIGHT, I’m not interested in pareos in JANUARY.

If just one store would step forward and say, this is our new policy, wouldn’t that be the only place you shopped for your kids?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mollie January 13, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Right on. But what I really want to say is: “The Sippy Cups” is an AWESOME NAME for a kids’ music group!

You might have some luck shopping online for kiddie mittens… They don’t have to turn over inventory quite as comprehensively. Good luck.

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Amy January 13, 2009 at 8:34 pm

Two comments on your comment:

1) The Sippy Cups. Great name, awful band.

2) landsend.com, where you can buy mittens AND swimsuits, 365 days a year, was my savior today, as it hath been many a time.

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Juggling Act January 15, 2009 at 1:56 am

Funny but true. Buying mittens/gloves at a brick & mortar store mid-season is virtually impossible, save some awful character emblazoned pair. I am that way about saving my solo earrings. Keep hoping to find their mates.

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The Bake Family January 25, 2009 at 2:32 am

I let my kids wear mismatched mittens…at least I still would if I didn’t live in AZ now 🙂 Then saving the mates pays off- the kids think its fun and I don’t have to spend more money!…and I love your letter to the stores, its SO TRUE!!!

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Luke and George January 29, 2009 at 3:36 am

Great blog – and I completely agree. If you are an UWS-der, the best place for guilt-free mittens is Ivan Pharmacy (http://www.nysite.com/westside/c9/ivan.htm). I’ve picked up at least 4 pairs already this winter – at about $3 – so the inevitable lost ones don’t hurt so much.

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