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?