I am a sucker for children’s hats. I typically buy at least two or three for each season. That enables me to keep one in the car, one in the house and sometimes one in my diaper bag.
When my son’s favorite sun hat was stolen a few weeks ago I went shopping for end of summer hat sales and found a few for less than $5 at Gymboree. I wasn’t exactly sure what size my son would wear so I bought a couple in varying sizes and planned to return the ones that didn’t fit as soon as I returned from the beach.
I went to a Gymboree store in a very run down mall not too far from where my parent’s live. Most of the stores in the mall have closed, but the Gymboree store still appears quite profitable.
Every time I go there I end up behind someone who appears to be buying every available outfit in the store. Yesterday I stood behind a woman who was eight months pregnant with twin girls. She was buying matching outfits in every shade of pink and purple you could imagine. As the cashier rang up her purchase the woman kept asking the price of each item, but no matter what number the cashier said she answered “yes I’ll take that one too.”
In total she purchased over $700 worth of items and walked out with three large bags and an online order for all of the items that were not available in store.
The clothes ranged in size from 0 to 3 months, which means in a very short period of time those tiny babies will outgrow $700 worth of clothes! She paid for the bill using two credit cards and asked the cashier to split the total, which is probably not the sign of a healthy financial situation.
After the woman left I got into a conversation with the cashier. She mentioned that it was not unusual for a new mother or father to pay $500 or more on outfits for a newborn. In fact, she said that particular woman had been in the store with her husband a few days before.
During certain times of the year Gymboree offers Gymbucks to consumers when their spending threshold reaches $50. Spend $50 and you’ll receive $25 in Gymbucks. Spend $100 and you’ll receive $50, etc. She said parents get hooked on the game of getting these coupons to spend on later purchases. Of course, the store wins, because they buy a ton of merchandise upfront and then return a month or so later to purchase more.
I tried to think back on the initial purchases for my son. We didn’t know his gender in advance so in that first month a lot of his clothes were green and yellow. We did need to buy some newborn clothes, because I thought for sure he would fit directly into size 0-3, but initially I only bought three or four tiny outfits.
I’m not sure how much I spent on those first few sizes, (newborn, 0-3), but it wasn’t close to $700. In fact, I bet I didn’t spend $700 for the entire first and second year!
I certainly understand the excitement of your first child, or children as the case may be, but I wanted to tell this particular customer that children grow so quickly. That my son wore size 0-3 for such a short period of time and that $700 is a ridiculous amount of money.
Of course it’s not my place to say anything. So instead I congratulated her on her pregnancy and told her she was in for the most amazing ride of her life.
Do you remember how much you spent on your children’s clothes before they were born?