I have to admit. I’m not a big shopper. In fact, before my son turned one, I would do everything I could to only use baby shower items for as long as possible before finally giving in, grabbing my purse, and heading to the store (Or more accurately, opening up a shopping app and cringing as I selected overnight shipping) for a much-needed item. It’s not that I’m cheap, I’m just really not a fan of the whole “shopping experience.” (I find this funny since I grew up in the ’90s and early ’00’s when going to the mall with your friends was the thing to do. I know I’m speaking to some of you mommas out there. You know what I’m talking about.)
I was thankful that my put-off-shopping technique worked for almost a year, and I naively hoped it might work until my son’s first birthday. However, being a first-time mom who had no idea how growth spurts and developmental leaps worked, how silly this hopeful thought would be. Needless to say, I was not prepared for the day when my son jumped from 6-month clothes to 12-month [seemingly overnight] and decided to walk just a few weeks later [usually towards the steps of our back porch with me hyperventilating as I ran after him]. With daycare and summer just around the corner, as well as an un-babyproofed house, I was getting anxious about how my husband and I could afford it all. As always, though, God provided a way. While I was compiling a list of everything we needed, I received a text from my cousin-in-law reminding me of the upcoming Rhea Lana’s shopping event in our hometown. I’d never been to one of these events and wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had heard good things, so I decided to go and see what I could find. After two days of shopping (yes, this non-shopper actually went two days) and trunk-full later, I am now a Rhea Lana’s event advocate! (I totally made that title up…but it’s true!)
That being said, while at the event I noticed there were some real pros who attended on a regular basis. This being my first time, I was not one of these people. When I first walked in I was a little overwhelmed [in a good way] and distracted (i.e. Should I shop clothes first? Wait, where did she get that toy? No, I wasn’t here for toys. Do they have baby gates? I didn’t even think of life jackets!). As you can imagine, it took me a little while to get rolling. Once I found my groove, though, it was great!
This brings me to the point of today’s blog.
While I still had a successful shopping experience, I do think I could have better prepared a bit for my first Rhea Lana’s event. So, in order to be more like those “pros” I mentioned earlier, I came up with a few tips for success. If you’re a first-time shopper like I was, I hope these 5 tips will help you get the most out of your first Rhea Lana’s shopping experience!
1. Make a Detailed List
I’m all about lists! I don’t know if I could function without them. So, naturally, I made a quick list before the event and thought I did a good job. That is until I actually got there and realized how vague I had been. For example, at the top of my list was “clothes”. Under this heading, I wrote 3-5 shirts and shorts. That’s fine; but, once in the clothing section, I couldn’t remember what colors my son already had and ended up buying similar items. I also had “baby-gate” on this list, but didn’t know until I looked at the gates that there were different sizes for specific door widths. (This would be obvious to most people. But, you know, first-time mom over here.) Thank goodness for husbands who answer their phones, because I almost bought one too small!
My advice would be to start an ongoing list now. Even if you don’t plan to go to an event for a while. Make sure to include details and think ahead to the next developmental stage or size your child is going to be when you attend the event. It would also be a fabulous idea to pick the brain of a friend with a child a little older than yours. They might think of items you didn’t know you will need!
2. Decide on a Budget and Stick to It!
It’s true. Kids (and babies) are expensive. I heard this for years from friends who had children earlier than I did, but I didn’t fully understand until now. The good news is this realization has made me more responsible with money! The bad news is, even though I have the best intentions to “not spend too much money”, I still sometimes find myself walking out of Carter’s with shopper’s guilt as heavy as the big bag of baby clothes I’m carrying.
So, to avoid this. Make a plan ahead of time. Look at your list and think about the cost of each item. If you are unsure how things are priced at an event, you could stop by a Rhea Lana store or even reach out to your local store on social media to get an idea. Once you have an overall amount in mind, make sure to put money back every so often before the event takes place.
3. Review the Event Map Ahead of Time
Seriously. Do it. I did not, which is why I found myself in random sections picking up items that were not on my list. (I was looking at toys for 5-year-olds for way too long. My son is one!) When I finally got my hands on a map, I was able to redirect my shopping before losing too much time. However, take it from me, it will be much easier if you already have your bearings before getting started.
4. Divide Your Cart
Originally, I threw everything I picked up into a big pile in my cart. Unfortunately, this presented a problem when I was ready to check out. I knew I had more items than my budget allowed, but didn’t know which were my “must-haves”. Before I could check out, I had to sort through all my items to find which ones I really needed at the moment and/or near future. I then created a “must-haves” pile and a “maybe” pile. Anything that didn’t fit into these categories went back on the rack. This ended up taking extra time and making it harder to stick to my budget. It would be easier to do this at the beginning so when I picked up an item that didn’t fit into one of the two piles, I would know to go ahead and put it back.
5. Go with a Friend
The first time I went, I went alone but had lots of happy reunions with friends I hadn’t seen in ages! (These girls are RL Veterans!) On my second trip, I really enjoyed going with my cousin-in-law! We have boys the same age, but very different sizes, which made it fun to shop together. We planned ahead and decided to make the event more of a mother’s day out experience! We went to lunch before shopping the event, then met up with our families afterward for a play date.
All in all, I had a wonderful first experience! With a little extra planning, though, I definitely think it will be even better next time. I hope these tips help you as you plan for your first Rhea Lana’s Shopping event! I promise you’ll be so happy you went!
Love in Christ,
Podcast: “Your Best New Self with Helen Elizabeth”