Moms and Target Starbucks: A Modern Day Love Story

This Wednesday afternoon while my boys were in gymnastics (as is the case with every Wednesday while my boys are in gymnastics) I popped into Target for a quick look-sie. When I walked in the front door I noticed that the in-store Starbucks they’d been building out since this summer was nearing completion, and upon further investigation I discovered that they were scheduled to open the Starbucks this upcoming Monday.

I snapped a photo of the storefront and posted it to a neighborhood Facebook group, and what happened next was totally unexpected. Within a few hours over 300 people had reacted to my (unexpectedly controversial) post:

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Dozens of people also left comments. The comments ranged from “Why do we need yet another Starbucks in this town?” (Answer: Because Seattle) to “Ermahgahd it’s finally happening!” (Because coffee). As I read through the mostly-comical comments, though, I noticed something: nearly every comment that extolled the virtues of the new Target Starbucks was left by (based on their profile pictures) young moms like myself.

The people who were excited about the Target Starbucks–the ones who were rejoicing with their red shopping carts along with me–were almost exclusively women with children in tow. And then I realized something: Target Starbucks speaks the love language of moms.

 

The reason moms across my town are rejoicing right now is because Target Starbucks fills a void that moms have. And I’m not talking about coffee. Heck, I don’t even drink coffee, and I’m dancing in the streets. No: Target Starbucks meets a need that moms have, and it meets it well. It provides caffeine and comfort at our favorite store. It’s the perfect combination.

Moms are busy. They are overwhelmed. They are crunched for time. This is a fact. And when your life is so full, having something as simple as a hot beverage available at the store you already find yourself in can be life-changing. Holding that warm cup while you wander through aisles of household goods and pantry essentials can feel like a vacation. For some of us moms this is the only vacation we will have for the foreseeable future, and we’ll take it. For those 20 minutes you can step outside the regular hectic-ness of life and stop to smell the coffee beans. It is a breath of fresh air.

You see, Target Starbucks is about so much more than making available an over-priced, over-sugared drink while you shop. It’s about offering actual love, peace and joy. So, Target Starbucks, thank you for being there for me when I need you the most.

Thank you, Target Starbucks, for providing the mid-day caffeine I need to make it through the carpool line and homework and dinner and baths and tooth-brushing wrangles and endless bedtime stories.

Thank you, Target Starbucks, for making my simple shopping trip into a coffee date (even if it’s only a coffee date with myself while I browse Hearth & Hand).

Thank you, Target Starbucks, for offering something delicious and exciting (Hello, Unicorn Frappuccino!) while I pick up diapers and bananas on my way home from swim lessons.

Thank you, Target Starbucks, for consistently changing your cups to match the seasons so I can loosely track the months of the year (You know I need the help. I have totally lost track of years now and I still put down the wrong year every time I write a check).

Thank you, Target Starbucks, for providing the pick-me-up I need at a place where I’m already going so I don’t have to make two stops with three children who are already cranky and mostly uncooperative. Goodness knows I’d be good at herding cats by now.

Thank you, Target Starbucks, for making my favorite store even more favorite-er.

Love,

Moms Everywhere (Especially moms here. We’re really excited you’re finally here!)

 

How To Shop Childrens’ Consignment Sales. Like A Boss.

JBF1Two weeks ago something rare happened: it rained in California. Seeing as we are in the middle of Autumn the presence of precipitation should come as no surprise, yet we were all caught off-guard. The toys we’d left strewn about the yard overnight got drenched. The laundry I had on the line got re-washed by nature. And when I went to get David ready for school in the morning, I came to an unfortunate realization: he didn’t have a single pair of shoes that fit him.

After spending all summer barefoot or in sandals, we hadn’t donned a pair of shoes in months. And in those months, my boy’s feet had grown gargantuan. Just like the rest of him. So, then I came to the even more disheartening realization: it was time to buy the boy a new (larger) wardrobe–which would undoubtedly come with a massive price tag to match.

Fact: kids cost money. Oodles and oodles of money, all the time. Any time I can save a bit of that money, I’m all for it. And that, my friends, is why God created children’s consignment sales.

If you’ve never been to a children’s consignment sale, just imagine a massive garage sale taking place inside of a Costco warehouse–full of all the stuff you keep having to buy for your very expensive offpring. Children’s consignment sales are a collection of consignors (aka “moms”) who are selling merchandise (aka the stuff their kids don’t use/have outgrown/just don’t want any more). They sell everything from toys and books to clothes and shoes to baby gear and maternity wear. In short, consignment sales are da bomb.

With two growing boys who DON’T EVEN HAVE SHOES THAT FIT THEM, I have become a bit of a consignment sale shopping expert. You might call me a professional shopper-saver, if you were so inclined. And now, dear friends, I will share my wisdom with you:

How To Shop Consignment Sales. Like A Boss.

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Research the sales
Consignment sales tend to happen seasonally, so research your local area for a schedule of sales that will be coming up soon (a quick looky-loo on Google should pull up several results). There are several large consignment sale organizations that franchise around the country, like Just Between Friends and Rhea Lana’s and locally, like Outrageous Outgrowns (California Bay Area) and Jack and Jill (my favorite in the Seattle area). Sign up for the email list on consignment sale websites so you’ll be notified of sale dates and special discounts.

Always visit the sale’s website before you go to the sale so you have accurate information on the sale dates and location. Sometimes you can also print off coupons from the sale’s website for free or discounted parking or admission.

Selling vs. shopping
If you have baby and/or kid stuff that you want to sell, sign up to be a consignor. As a consignor you’ll make money off every item you sell and get special privileges like shopping the sale before the public. If you don’t have anything to sell you can always attend the event as a shopper.

Timing your visit
Sales typically happen over a weekend and last 2-4 days. If you have specific items you want to buy, or if you are particular about the types and quality of the products you buy, you’ll want to go on the first day of the sale while the inventory is fresh. If you want to save even more money, visit on the last day of the sale when the remaining items are typically sold at half-off. Or, if you’re really serious about this whole consignment sale thing, you could always visit twice: once on the first day of the sale and again on the last day of the sale to pick up some bargains.

Try to arrive at the sale early in the day. Like when they open. Or, better yet, before they open. Think of it practice for Black Friday. These things get packed, and fast. The earlier you can get in and out, the better off you’ll be. Otherwise, aim for lunch or dinner time so you can take advantage of the lull when most shoppers go home to eat.

Set your expectations
This is not Nordstrom’s–heck, this is not even Nordstrom Rack. You are buying used kids stuff. And if you have kids, you know what kids do to their stuff. They beat up their toys, they spill juice on their shirts, they draw with Sharpie’s on their furniture. Consignment sales are full of bargains–if you’re willing to compromise. The nicer and newer the condition of the item, the more expensive it will be. If you’re willing to put up with a few bent pages in a book or a dress that has obviously been off the rack since last season, then you’ll be grand. If you’re expecting perfection, sales may not be for you (but please give me your contact info so we can get in touch when you’re ready to offload your kids’ gear…).

To kid or not to kid
Consignment sales are for kids, but they are not FOR kids. Yes, you buy kid stuff at the sale. No, you should not bring your kid to the sale. Why? Because it’s a Costco warehouse-sized kids garage sale. There are toys and books and bouncy things and all sorts of other temptations everywhere you look. Your children will whine about literally every item in the sale. All 20,000 items. And you will get so fed up that you will just throw up your hands and say WHATEVER and get in line so you can check out and get the heck out of there. And then you will realize, as you are trying to find the end of the line that snakes around the Costco-sized-kids-garage-sale that there is not back of the line. The back of the line is in Mexico. Or Canada. Or whatever country is furthest away from where you are right now. And then you will finally get to the front of the line and you will wonder was it all worth it. (I brought my kids with me to a sale last week)

Have a shopping game plan
If there is something special that you know you want to get, make a beeline for that section as soon as you arrive. Big-ticket items like cribs, strollers and rockers can go faster than a toddler’s temper. Seasonal items like Halloween costumes, outdoor gear, and fancy Easter clothes also get picked over quickly, so grab yours before they’re gone.

Plan for the future
Since sales typically only happen a few times a year, think ahead to what you might need in the months between now and the next sale. Will your child be moving up a size soon? Will the seasons change so you’ll need more seasonal clothing? Will your baby become a crawler/walker/toddler and require different types of toys or gear? Do you have birthdays or Christmas coming up that you want to buy gifts for? Take advantage of the bargains now so you won’t have to break the bank in a month or two.

Bring cash
Some sales create special (shorter) check-out lines for people who are paying with cash. With the average consignment sale check-out line lasting about an hour, bringing cash has saved me countless hours of line-waiting.

Bring the right gear
Bring these things with you to the sale. Just because I said so.
-wagon, empty stroller or shopping trolley (like the ones you see little old ladies bring on the bus) so you have somewhere to put all the cool stuff you find at the sale
-baby carrier–Sometimes you just have to bring the baby with you. With a baby in tow, it will usually be easier to put your baby in a carrier and have your hands and (now empty) stroller available for shopping.
-shopping bags–most sales do not offer you a way to cart your stuff home. Bring your own.
-snacks and water–this shopping is serious business (especially if you find yourself stuck at the end of a 2-hour check-out line)
-cash (see above)
-empty back seat and/or car trunk–you may go to the sale for one thing, but we all know how that’s going to end…

 Happy shopping, and happy saving!

One Week In: Some “Getting Used To’s”

Today marks the 1-week anniversary of our move to Ireland. To be honest, it all still seems like a blur to me–we’ve been so busy moving and getting settled in to our new house that the days all just blend together (jet lag helps with that, too). There are a lot of things here that are a lot like home–the weather, the landscape, the types of food that are available. In fact, a lot of the time  since we’ve been here I have kind of forgotten that we’re in a new country–but then something will snap me back to reality and remind me that I am, in fact, living in a very different place. There are several things that will take some getting used to here. For starters:

This is oppositesville to me. They drive on the left side of the road.

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I have to really pay attention to know which lane we should be in, which lane we turn in to, and how close to the edge of the road I am. I’ve actually only driven once this week because we have a manual transmission car and it kinda freaks me out. Jon’s giving me driving lessons in empty parking lots, though, so I feel like I’m 15 again sitting in the driver’s seat for the first time. Good times!

Another difference? There are castles. Everywhere. This is Blackrock Castle and it’s about a 2-minute drive from the business park where Jon works (it’s currently used as an observatory and a restaurant).

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I’ve had a couple of “oops” parenting moments, too. When you go out to eat here, they have these little bottles of juice that they’ll give kids with their meals. David sure loves them! And now I know why–they are cordials that you’re supposed to mix with a full glass of water–I was just having him drink them straight. Way to go, Mom–at least highly concentrated fruit syrup never killed anyone, right?

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There are also some really neat products here that we don’t have readily available back in the states. My favorite is the washer/dryer. You just put your dirty clothes in, push start, and the machine washes and dries your laundry in one go. I’ve kinda always dreamed of a machine like this, and here it is.

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Some products just confuse me. None is more confusing than the humble shower. You see, every time I want to take a shower I have to turn on the hot water downstairs, then go upstairs to turn on the hot water for my shower. See the pull cord hanging from the ceiling? That turns on the hot water. On top of the confusing hot water situation, it’s an electric shower so you have to actually turn on the shower as well (that’s the big box hanging on the wall inside the shower). Energy efficient? Yes. Convenient? Not so much.

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Another energy-saving device they have is the wall outlet. Every single wall outlet has a switch that you have to turn on when you want the device that’s plugged in to receive power. When you are done using your electric toothbrush/cell phone charger/toaster/hair dryer you flip off the switch so energy isn’t wasted going to devices that aren’t being used.

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When I went into our backyard for the first time I saw this large black bin. Since I’ve been discovering all of these energy-saving devices all over the house, I got really excited to see that we had our very own compost bin!

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Unfortunately, when I opened my compost bin for the first time, I was gravely disappointed. Turns out, our “compost bin” is actually our coal bin. I didn’t even know people still used coal! Hmmm…not quite sure what to do with that…

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The grocery store is actually a lot like the grocery stores I’m used to shopping at back “home”. There are a few key differences, though. Groceries cost about 30% more than I’m used to spending–plus I still haven’t figured out how to use coupons (called “vouchers” here).  Another interesting part of shopping here is the whole cart situation–you have to insert a coin every time you want a cart (it is returned to you when you return the cart). You also have to bring your own bags. They have no free bags available. So, if you forget your bag (or if your reusable shopping bags happen to be on a cargo ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean) then you have to buy reusable bags on the spot for about $2 a pop. Guess who has a collection of 10 new reusable shopping bags?

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Other shopping experiences are quite different from what I’m used to. I haven’t found an equivalent to Target or WalMart yet, but this place came about the closest as far as the products available. How you shop there, however, is pretty unique. You walk into a showroom that has a bunch of computer stations and catalogs set up. You browse the catalogs and find the items you’d like to buy. Then you write down the item numbers on little slips of paper and take your “ticket” to the cash register. After you pay for your items, you have a seat in the waiting area while they collect your purchases. Then they bring them out to you and you’re set to go. I actually kind of like this method of shopping because in the future I’ll be able to enter my purchases online and then just pick them up in the store–no winding through shopping aisles with 2 screaming children, thank you.

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Then there are the beds. The beds come in many sizes: twin, full, queen, california queen, king and california king. The sheets, however, only come in 3 sizes. We’ve looked in half a dozen stores and can still only find sheets that are in the sizes “single”, “double”, or “king”. None of those sizes fits any of the beds in our house. So, we just bought a bunch of flat sheets (since none of the fitted ones fit on our mattresses). We put one flat sheet on top of the mattress and do our best to tuck it in–then we re-tuck it in every morning. I think someone could make a killing here selling sheets that actually fit mattresses. Just saying.

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Yes, there are many things that we’re getting used to. It will probably take awhile but, slowly and surely, we’re starting to get the hang of it all.