Thursday, June 3, 2010

Planning to Fall

It has been a while since I last made and entry and if I count back the months, it makes perfect sense. Our family recently learned that it will be growing by one more this coming November! We are thrilled and with this exciting news, I am that much more inspired to focus my shopping in preparation for the (near) future. I am not talking about purchasing new nursery furniture or pieces to complete an infants layette. I am planning on setting my sights a bit shorter to... Back to School Shopping. I will have two entering school in the Fall and with a new baby on the way, as much as I can get done now, the better.

Off-season shopping is great because it allows you to double dip in the savings arena. All stores want to get rid of old things to make room for the new which is where Clearance Bins come into play. These are full of posh, off-season items that most consumers are not looking for. Think scarves in Spring, bathing suits during the Winter, or in my case, slacks in Summer. They have to move the goods and this is where the consumer can truly cash in.

There are sometimes damaged goods or a hair clip you wouldn't wouldn't re-gift to your sworn enemy. But, if you shop smartly you can honestly find perfectly good, high-quality items at sometimes 75% off in many a clearance bin. Shopping smartly means taking your time and shopping at high-end stores often in order to save the most money. Places to frequent both online and off are Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus. There are clearance bins clearly marked in all of these stores boasting amazing deals on off-season bags and shoes. There are also huge sales held in the honor of off-season items. Check online or local listing for these events.

Fair Warning Here: Off-Season sales rules of thumb are shop early and get mentally prepared for a circus. These sales tend to lure everyone from everywhere and it can sometimes become quite the chaotic scene.

Outlets are also havens for savings in the off-season. Their merchandise moves faster because a lot more people view this as a shopping Mecca. Outlets from Gucci to Gap have amazing deals all year round and the summertime is the perfect opportunity to take the children on a day trip. These shopping venues are usually located further out of town for their obvious mammoth size, so plan accordingly if you are taking the little ones. Also pack your water bottle for what can many a time, turn into a marathon shopping event. Save gas by going with a friend. It also makes the trip that much more fun.

So with the end of school just a week away for us and our vacation plans firmly set in place, we are surely looking forward to Summer days. But in the very back of my mind, I am already thinking and planning ahead to Fall.

Take this simple list with you as you shop the local stores for
Off-Season Items in the Summer

1. School Supplies: Look for deals on Ticonderoga pencils, Crayola crayons, and Mead notebooks, and Sharpie Permanent Markers. Think quality now so that you don't have to skimp with the off-brands in the Fall when the prices tend to spike. These items have a tendency not to move as much when no one is in school and sales can be found from Walgreen's to Target. They are in high need when mid-August hits so purchase them now and save big now.

2. Uniform Essentials: White Polos and heavy slacks are hardly needed when play clothes abound to enjoy all that Summer brings. For the best deals, shop stores like Target and Ralph Lauren Outlets and/or online. You may be able to find them for at least 25%-50% regular prices at both stores. Quality wise Ralph Lauren is my top choice. However, mixing in a few lesser priced shirts to the wardrobe allows not only for bigger savings, but less stress when mustard stains come home. As always, shop your local consignment stores for lightly worn uniform staples. Pants are going to be more plentiful so look for wear on the knees.

3. Close-Toed Shoes: Good quality shoes are essential for everyone in the family, no matter what stage they are in life. Looking for name brands for children's shoes is key to not only their development, but will save a bundle in the checkbook. A good quality pair can last you until heavy boot weather, or even into next Spring if you live in milder climates. Merrell, Robeez, See Kai Run, and GeoX are just a few names to help you get started. You can see by this week's Deal of the Week that bargains can definitely be found while shopping at Children's Consignment. Buying the popular brands for your children now will help you by leaps and bounds in the long run. You won't be shopping with the masses in the Fall allowing you to find the styles and sizes you need when Fall styles are on sale during the off-season.

So make a list of the items you need, grab a friend, and soak up the Vitamin D while you
shop, shop, shop!

We've found Late May-early August to be the best off-season months to shop for Back to School Essentials