Tag Archives: shopping

School supplies you shouldn't buy

School shopping can be more expensive than the holidays. And the stores are getting into it full force, practically since summer vacation began! With the major push for back-to-school sales at the stores, it’s possible you’ll actually spend more than you save. But while your child will need to fill their supply lists in preparation for the start of school, there are some things you should cross off your list before you even buy them.

Crayons, markers, pencils
If you’re like me, you have a whole box full of art supplies. So why are you buying brand new crayons, markers, or other desk supplies? Before heading to the local office supply store, check through your art supplies. Pens that still have ink, unbroken crayons, and anything else that seems decent enough for everyday use are perfectly acceptable as part of your child’s back-to-school package.

Book covers
My personal opinion is that book covers are a huge waste of money. I can never get them to fit properly. But more than that, why spend money on a decorated book cover when you can make your own? In our house we repurpose all those paper shopping bags we get at the store by wrapping our books with them. Then the kids can decorate them on their own to showcase their style and character. And if they have a need to doodle while in class, these book covers create the perfect outlet.

New clothes
If you didn’t already know, let me be the one to tell you: Your child does not need a brand new wardrobe just because school is starting. Sure, they probably need a few new items here and there. But in no way are you expected to go broke so your child’s closet is filled to the max with new duds. Check through their clothing and replace only the items they’ve outgrown or are getting threadbare. Another way our family has saved money on school shopping? We shop the secondhand stores like Plato’s Closet (1914 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa) that hold trendy but gently-used clothing for much less than the department stores.

Lunch box or backpack
These are two items your kid won’t grow out of. So why do they need a new one ever year? Do the zippers still work on the backpack, and is it free from holes? Is the lunchbox still capable of closing and free from last year’s lunch? Then it’s totally acceptable for this year as well. Of course, it might be harder to convince your 4th grader to take last year’s backpack or lunchbox if they’re covered in the cartoon characters they loved in 3rd grade. So if you must buy new, go for something a little plainer that can be carried around even as their tastes in style and interest changes.

Alarm clock
Yes, your child needs to wake up. But in this age of technology, the alarm clock is going the way of the Dodo Bird and the wristwatch. Why do they need a separate alarm clock if they already have an MP3 player or cell phone that does the same thing?

Be sure to check out some of the tips in the SantaRosaMom.com forums on DEALS we’ve discovered in the stores during Back-to-School shopping. And if you’ve discovered some deals of your own, pass them along!

Win Tickets to Shop the Exclusive JBF Spring Presale!


Thank you everyone who entered!

How would you love to win tickets to the Just Between Friends pre-sale next Thursday, March 3rd?  If you win, you would be able to go to the event a whole day before the public, receiving first pick on everything that is being consigned.  Read on for details on the contest.

If you’re not familiar with the Just Between Friends event, let me give you a hint – this is the must attend event for young and growing families.  Twice a year, consigners gather up their gently used kids & maternity clothing, books, strollers, games, furniture, outdoor play equipment, sporting goods, arts & crafts, mommy supplies, and more, and then sell them at prices much lower than what they sell for new in the stores.  And everything sold is in excellent shape!  Let’s face it, raising a family is expensive.  That’s why I’m a huge believer in this cost-saving avenue. 

Why buy something new when you could buy something barely used for a fraction of the cost?

It’s not just cost that makes me enthusiastic about this sale (though, let’s face it, I’ve always been a girl with an eye for a bargain).  I love that this sale promotes community and sustainability.  A high chair that one family has grown out of is being offered to another family that is just entering that phase.  A mother of older twins can sell her top of the line double stroller to a younger family who maybe can’t afford the high retail cost of a new stroller.  And I know many of you understand the concept of kids growing faster than their clothes wear out.  The racks at Just Between Friends are filled with these clothes, some of them never worn even once, and all of them in great condition.  This includes school clothes, play clothes, dress clothes, winter jackets, and even Easter outfits with a lot of life still in them.  How’s that for a little earth conscious shopping?

Just Between Friends isn’t a new concept, but was actually thought up by two moms 13 years ago.  The first sale was put on in a living room, a handful of moms sharing items and clothing.  Today it has expanded to over 100 franchises across the United States.  The North Bay division was put together by Matt and Jennifer Hundley of Petaluma last spring when they came away from another Just Between Friends event in Sacramento.  So impressed were they with the whole concept, they believed that we needed an event like this here in the North Bay.  The concept caught on like wildfire as families rushed to consign their used items, and came to the sale for bargains.  The Hundleys, as well as volunteers of the event, personally inspect every single item that comes their way for the sale, ensuring that it’s in excellent condition before being placed on the floor for sale.  The average consignor at the fall event came away with $340.  The top consignor made over $3,000.  And the money saved by consumers is huge.

JBF also promotes help in the community.  Any items left over after the sale are donated (with consignor permission) to Our Kid’s Sake, who in turn donates them to over 1,000 homeless children here in Sonoma County.  And the Just Between Friends sale donates proceeds from admission to the Active 20-30 service club, a group that serves local underprivileged youth in Sonoma County and Napa.  Last year, 4,000 items were donated to Our Kids Sake, and JBF donated more than $1,750 in cash to Active 20-30!

Dates of the 2011 spring event:
Mar 3:  Presale – details online*
Mar 4: 10am – 7pm $2 -100% admission benefits Active 20-30
Mar 5: 10am-3pm Free admission!
Mar 6:  9 am – 2 pm 50% OFF SALE, FREE admission!

Event will be at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in the Hall of Flowers.  This year they are debuting Mommy Mart, Gift Again, Crafter’s Corner, School Supplies & more.

To view a full photo gallery of last season’s sale, go HERE.

So about that pre-sale contest….  The day before the sale is only open to volunteers, consignors, and a select few concumers, allowing them to peruse the packed building first and snag items they want before the public sale Friday through Sunday.  But we have tickets to the presale to one lucky winner to join in on the pre-sale fun.  Want to win them?  Then answer the following question:

What are you hoping to find at the Just Between Friends Sale?

Comments left in this blog, or on the forum found HERE at SantaRosaMom.com, will be entered into a random drawing to win two (2) pre-sale tickets to the 2011 spring Just Between Friends sale event held on Thursday, March 3rd from 3:30pm – 8pm at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.  Contest ends Tuesday, March 1st at 4pm.  Winner will be announced on Wednesday by 11am. 

See HERE for official rules.

Good luck!

When your daughter becomes a girl

My daughter has recently discovered girls – in that they are actually a great gender to be friends with, and a great gender to be. She’s been a tomboy for as long as I can remember, hanging out with boys – even dressing like them. And while I have never been one to dictate what my kids wear, I have been known to try and persuade my daughter to maybe girl it up a little only to be met with major resistance. And so this recent change has kind of thrown me for a loop.

Suddenly my daughter is very concerned with the clothes she is wearing. We’ve never been a family who cared about labels, mostly because, let’s face it, “labels” are expensive. So my daughter wears the best of the best from that chic little boutique affectionately known as Tar-jay (or Target, for you common folks). But all of a sudden, these just weren’t good enough. And this became very apparent when the school dance came about, and my daughter HAD TO HAVE a new outfit because all of her clothes weren’t good enough.

But I didn’t begrudge her. I actually jumped at her revelation that her tomboy clothes weren’t cute enough, and that she needed to go shopping – a dirty word in our previous conversations. And when she asked if she could invite one of her girlfriends for moral support, I was only too happy to say yes.

There are benefits to letting your child shop with a friend their own age. I’d like to think that I have a pretty keen eye on what’s cute on the racks, and what isn’t. But even I have to admit that, being 20 years older than my daughter, I may not have a good perception about what’s in style for her. She’s the one going to school with a bunch of other fashion conscious teens, not me. And if I’m her influence when she’s shopping, she’s not going to find an outfit that matches her peers. But bring in a fashionable girl my daughter’s age, and whose style she loves, and now we’re getting down to business.

Armed with a gift card from Christmas, we all trekked over to Forever 21.  In the backseat they were speaking a foreign language of teen girl-speak that I didn’t even know my daughter was fluent in.  And when we arrived at the store the girls promptly ditched me and the Taz to go find clothes on their own. I wandered aimlessly among the racks, wondering if I should at least be trying to shadow them a little in case they needed some help. I finally spotted my daughter and asked her point blank, only to be shooed away. Fine then, I would just do a little “browsing” myself. I set the Taz up on a chair outside the fitting room with my iPhone, and then searched for clothes to try on. And when I was all done, the girls apparently were too. I caught up with them in the accessories section where they were finalizing the finishing touches to their outfits with rings, earrings, necklaces, and a funky pair of sunglasses. And without even showing me her new outfit, my daughter went right up to the cash register to buy her new clothes.

It was a whole new lesson on trust for me.

Today’s the dance, and my daughter woke me up early to help her with her hair. 40 minutes later (man, that girl’s hair is thick!), her long hair hung in soft ringlets, and she was off to change into her new clothes. And when she modeled them for me a little later, I was stunned at the girl who stood before me. She wore a turquoise shirt cinched above the waist with one of my belts. Layered over that was a heather gray long sweater. And she paired it with her favorite jeans and ballet flats (foregoing her usual skater shoes). Her curled hair was pulled back into a low ponytail. And she accessorized with large hoop earrings and a long necklace. She was gorgeous! The two girls had picked out a very cute outfit that still held remnants of my daughter’s personal style. But it was a whole new look, and my daughter was obviously thrilled.

There are a couple things I’ve learned in this whole experience. First, this whole new girl in my daughter is bound to be loads of fun as we play dress up and rediscover all those girly clothes and hairstyles we’ve had to avoid the past 13 years. Two, as the mom of a teen, I am strictly off limits from partaking in playing dress up with my daughter. Boo. Third, a girlfriend is the perfect solution to a fashion crisis. Fourth, girliness is highly time consuming (40 minutes for hair! Did you read that up there???). And finally, I am about to become really, really, really broke.


Just Between Friends Sale

The Just Between Friends Sale is coming up this weekend, August 21-22. View the event page HERE at SantaRosaMom.com.

Remember this event? I attended it in the spring and was blown away by how organized it was, and how the event coordinators handled EVERYTHING. There was the potential for consignors to make some good money off of their gently used items, and buyers could find really great deals on practically new clothes and more. I can’t stress just how important it is for families with young children or a baby on the way to attend. When I went earlier this year, there were numerous practically new items being sold for pennies compared to how much they would cost to buy new. Strollers, cribs, clothes, shoes, toys… And with school just starting up, the timing couldn’t be more perfect to update your child’s wardrobe. Seriously folks, you won’t want to miss this sale. By the way, the coordinators will be donating many of their leftover items to Our Kids Sake, a foundation that benefits more than 1000 homeless children right here in Sonoma County. And all admission proceeds go to the Active 20-30 service organization.

This sale is nothing but good.

To learn more about attending this event, and maybe to make some extra cash by consigning at future events (they hold their sales every 6 months), be sure to visit the JBF sale page at northbay.jbfsale.com. And for more information about the event you can read the Press Release HERE.

The sale will be held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds at 1350 Bennett Valley Rd in Santa Rosa. On Saturday the sale will be from 9am – 3pm. There will be a $2 admission charge with 100% of the proceeds going to the Active 20-30 service organization. On Sunday, the sale will be 9am – 2pm and admission is free. Not only that, many of the items will have their prices slashed in half on Sunday.

Hope to see you there!

Black Friday Events

Black Friday really should be considered a national holiday. I mean, it’s almost criminal that anyone should have to work on this day when there are so many great sales going on (ahem, bosses…..). Our own area is abundant in Black Friday events going on all around the community. Don’t miss the doorbusters, fun activities, and even some freebies. Get out your map and plan your method of attack in some good old-fashioned local holiday shopping!

Santa Rosa Downtown Holiday
The merchants of Santa Rosa will be opening their doors for an Open House, going on from noon to 5 pm. Just look for the red and silver balloons, and you will find free kids’ activities, excellent sales, free gift wrapping, snacks and goodies, parking validation, and then some! From 5pm to 6pm, hop on over to Courthouse Square to get your child’s picture with Santa, play with the interactive exhibits from the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County, and make crafts (like Christmas cards) using recycled items with Lisa R. Fredenthal-Lee. At 6pm, stay for the annual Sutter VNA & Hospice Lights of Life lighting of the tree that graces the Square all year long. There will be more crafts and kids’ activities, a visit from Santa, a raffle for a Downtown Gift Basket (I bet there are a LOT of great treasures in that prize!), live music sung by the Santa Rosa Children’s Chorus and by The Susan Comstock Swingtet. And, of course, there is the beautiful candle lighting ceremony, and the lighting of the tree.

Santa Rosa Plaza
Doors open at 5 am on Friday. Don’t miss doorbusters like Hersheys’s Bliss bars being given to first shoppers. Other sales include a gift bag of bath essentials ($100 value) for only $15 with any $40 purchase at Bath & Body Works, BOGO 50% off at Charlotte Russe, 20% off already reduced prices at the Disney Store, incredible prices at Kay Jewelers (hint, hint), 25% off everything at The Children’s Place (plus a chance to win a $2,010 wardrobe for your child!), and FREE diamond earrings ($149 value) from Zales with any purchase of $399 or more. Also, if you make a donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, you will receive 20% off your next full-price purchase at Loft, now through Dec 31st.

Coddingtown Mall
Doors open at 5 am on Friday. Sales will include various items at 50% off at Borders Express, $15 off your $75 purchase at Old Navy, 20% to 50% off all German Cutlery at Sonoma Cutlery, and 20% off your purchase of $50 or more at Styles for Less. Don’t miss even more sales being held at Coddingtown!

Petaluma Outlets
There are some great sales starting at midnight on Friday at the Petaluma Outlets. Carter’s and OshKosh merchandise will be 50% off. Gymboree’s merchandise is all 25% off, and will also have plenty of merchandise for up to 70% off. Kitchen Collection will take 10% off all items you can fit into a purchased Kitchen Collection shopping bag. See the website for more stores that are taking part in this celebration of the biggest shopping day of the year!

Holiday Party in Downtown Healdsburg
Visit with Santa, get a free carriage ride, listen to the sounds of the Dickens Carolers….. Healdsburg is the perfect place to get that old town feel for the holidays! Don’t miss the Wine & Chocolate Tastings and the Jewelry Trunk Show at Saint Dizier Homes. Be sure that your child gets their face painted while you peruse jewelry at Midnight Sun. And don’t forget to get your complimentary chair massage at The Spa Hotel Healdsburg. There are so many great shops in downtown Healdsburg that are not to be missed, so be sure to take advantage of the savings and wonderful present opportunities that the stores will be offering. Event starts at 5pm and goes on till 9pm.

And while you’re shopping on Friday, here’s something you might be interested in. My Gym Santa Rosa is holding their Drop & Shop. From 8am till noon, drop your kids off at My Gym, located at 3267 Airway Drive in Santa Rosa, and shop completely kid-free! While your kids are enjoying snacks, crafts, and activities, you will be able to get twice as much done than you would have if you had been toting along the little munchkins. Ages 3 – 9 years. Price is $30/$25 members, and they offer a $5 discount for siblings. Call 707-575-4975 for more info and to register, or click on the website.

Did I miss your town’s event, or your favorite store’s huge sale? Please leave a comment telling us some of the details, and what we can look forward to!