Gymboree’s Red Balloon Sale.
It happens twice a year and is one of the best Gymboree sales.
Email: Sign up for Gymboree’s email newsletter so you will be notified when the sale will happen. The day I get an email that the sale is going on, I will (try to) stop everything I am doing to go sometime on Day One of the sale for the best selection.
Coupon: I had saved a 20% coupon from Parents Magazine (from a free one-year subscription) that expires at the end of this month, so I knew it would probably overlap with the Red Balloon Sale. As of publishing this post, they will allow you to use a coupon during a sale!
Location: There are four Gymboree locations in the area and I’ve already determined best one to go to on the first day of the sale. If I have other downtime, I’ll go to the other mall locations, but they really aren’t that great. Once you have shopped multiple stores over a period of time, you’ll know which has the best sale rack. Some locations save all their sale items for the Red Balloon Sale, so you will see some great stuff for all seasons and sizes (and you will likely need to dig through the red bins). Other locations don’t have much on sale; it just depends on the store manager.
If you are extra friendly and have a specific request (article and size) they may check the back for you; just be open to whatever they have on hand. This happened for me when we were planning to go to Hawaii with Baby and the associate looked in the back for me; we got this cute shark bucket hat for under $3. I thought it looked kind of dumb in store, but at the beach, it was a big hit!
This is a great sale for stockpiling.
But be careful! A lot of items I saw were winter clothing and seasonal items are hard to plan for.
Obviously, the best items are those you need and will use right away. So I did look at the normal sale rack of early spring/summer items (some lines were about 60% off; more recent lines will be more expensive). We got Baby new swim trunks since our new home has a pool. We got one size bigger to last the whole summer, since Baby is soon to grow out of his current size.
After sale and coupon, the swim board shorts were $6.40 (pre-tax):
I found this mom-duck (or dad) and baby duck bodysuit that I thought was adorable. We are hoping/planning to have a second baby next year and I know we were running the wash a lot during the 6-12M size, so I bought it for the great price, plus it is colorful, gender neutral and has the expandable lap shoulders that I think are essential and would also make a great gift. After sale and coupon, this bodysuit was $1.59 (pre-tax):
-thick button up grey striped cotton shirt 18-24 M — too wrinkle-prone, not a wow piece,
-navy blue double breasted cotton button up jacket 2T, 3T– many of these were on the sale rack, looked very formal and might be too preppy on a little boy, but would have been really cute on a girl in the right color.
-green and blue plaid jacket 2T — very tempting since it was a nice jacket, but I do not have a clue when Baby will reach size 2T; I know he could probably use a jacket this winter, but he may not be at that size range yet. (UPDATE: And I was correct! We got a gently used 24M coat for this winter)
-white animals fleece zip up sleeveless jumper/swaddler 0-3 M — very tempting, as I do have potential future moms to gift this to, but it was too thick (not suitable for all seasons) and white (stains easily for a newborn in that size)
These just didn’t make the cut because I can’t predict growth or climate enough to justify stockpiling these seasonal items. Remember to stock up on basics–shirts, rompers, lightweight pants, and socks are always good choices.
Tip: The Red Balloon Sale happens twice a year: once in late-May or early June and again late-Dec or January. I find the late-Dec is the easier sale to shop because there’s more inventory and every kid needs tees and summer shorts so it is relatively easy to stock up on those rather than the winter items you find on sale in the summer. (We do however have a very short winter in TX, so if you’re in a colder climate, the opposite might be true for your kids’ clothing needs.)