Why I Buy Gymboree


Hi, my name is Mary, and I’m a Gymboree addict.

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know this already. I’m not crazed, but I am enough of a devotee that people think of me when they get a discount code, or when they need help identifying a line of clothing. After Madalyn was born I went in the store a few times, adored the clothes, and was horrified by the prices. I resisted for a few years but, somehow, when Madalyn was about 2.5, it got to me and I caved. I can still remember the first good-sized batch of Gymboree clothes she had, and tell you the lines all the pieces came from. I have been shopping there ever since. Madalyn was about 7 when she outgrew their clothing, because she was so big for her age, but I can still shop there for Johnny, and Eliza, who’s average-sized, still has a good seven years left before she leaves Gymbo sizes behind.

Many people take one look at Gymboree prices and run, screaming…or look down their noses at me for paying so much. I try to explain that I rarely pay full price for anything from there. I wait until it goes 20% off or more. I also collect and use GymBucks ($25 off of every $50). I also buy pieces from former lines on eBay. The prices are probably still higher than a lot of people would pay for second-hand clothing but it’s still not sticker price. (I also buy “new with tags” items and end up paying less than the original asking price.)

There is a method to my madness, however. It’s not just that I am in love with Gymboree’s designs. Certainly I am….with some of them. People might be surprised to know I don’t love everything Gymboree does. There are entire lines that leave me cold. At any rate, it’s not just aesthetics that spurs me to spend the money on this brand. Also factoring into the decision is the fact that, quite simply, Gymboree is consistently some of the most well-made children’s clothing you can buy. It’s sturdy and made with quality materials. With two girls, do you have any inkling of how many shirts, dresses, skirts and pairs of pants I’ve bought from Gymboree over the years that had either sequins or rhinestone detailing on them? Know how many of those pieces have ever lost any of said embellishments? None, that I’ve ever seen. Meanwhile, every shirt we’ve ever bought from anywhere else that had sparklies on it had lost half of them before the season was over.

Over the past year or so I’ve been making liberal use of a website called Zulily. Rather than selling their own brand of merchandise, Zulily makes deals with manufacturers and designers to sell a specific quantity of items at (an alleged) considerable discount. They really do have low prices on some items that are very cute. The problem is that, once you get them home, you find out that many of the items are very poorly made. The manufacturers are claiming normal resale prices that rival Gymboree’s, and yet the quality seems to be on the level of Walmart, or Target, if you’re lucky. And it’s not, as I said, just one company’s products. I have ordered things from Zulily from countless different manufacturers and I run into this problem with a lot of them.

But don’t just take my word for it. I have photographic evidence. All of the following photographs are of items I have bought at “deep discount” from Zulily. (Note: Feel free to click on any of the photos to see the details up close.)

First, one of the ruffles on the front came unstitched, so my mom fixed it. Then the strap came loose.

Legwarmer that came with a dance outfit. The first time she wore it to dance she came home missing the giant black bow that was where that black ribbon loop is. We couldn’t find it so my mom had to make new bows for *both* legwarmers and sew them on properly.

This shoe had a faux button. The strap was actually attached with a flimsy metal brad that was inserted into the shoe and bent. She wore them maybe three times before it came apart. I ended up using Gorilla Glue to put it back together (and ruined a favorite shirt because the glue squirted on me, damn it).

These sandals were so cute when they were new. See all those black spots on the beading? Those were all silver when we first got them.

Sandals again. She only wore these for one summer, and they were not, by any means, her only pair of shoes, so it’s not as though she wore them all day, every day.

A new item – she tried to put this on the day after we got it and the three threads holding the strap immediately broke before she even had it entirely on her body.

What you see above is just a sampling of the issues I’ve had. There have been many other incidences of cheap materials, cheap manufacturing, stuff falling apart, material fading awfully and/or getting holes in it after only a few washings, and the elastic inside waistbands rolling over (this happens a LOT). Now, to be fair, I should point out that I order from Zulily frequently, and there have been things that I haven’t had a bit of trouble with. Also worth pointing out is that this is not Zulily’s fault, personally. I don’t have a problem with them. They are not responsible for the manufacturing. Indeed, my point is that this has happened with so many different brands that it appears to be the standard rather than just a few bad apples.

For a bit of contrast, allow me to submit two more pictures.

This is a Gymboree dress. Look closely and you will see no fading and no pilling of the fabric. The ruffle around the neckline and the bows at the waist are firmly attached and the stitching around the wrists is perfect.

And now for the kicker:

Please note the copyright date on the line second from the bottom. It’s 2002. This is a 10-year-old dress. I got it on eBay. We are not its first owners. Hell, we may not be its second owners. The thing is ten years old and it’s basically pristine.

 If you’re still saying, “So what? They’re kids’ clothes…they can only wear them for a little while. Who needs them to last ten years?” I would ask you — what do you do with cheaper kids’ clothes when they are worn out and falling apart? Dump them at a thrift store? Throw them away? I’ll tell you what people do with Gymboree clothes — they resell them. I can buy these clothes, send my kids out looking adorable, and then sell the clothes to someone else and get part of my money back…maybe even enough that I end up, in the long run, not having paid any more for the outfit than I would’ve at Old Navy or The Children’s Place. They also make great hand-me-downs. I have tons of Madalyn’s old Gymboree socked away in sizes all the way up to 12, just waiting for Eliza to grow into them — which will save me money as the years go on. If you take a $40 outfit and use it for two different kids, then you are really only paying $20 apiece for the thing. It’s even hard to get a (nice) shirt and pants at Walmart for under that, anymore.

So you see, my friends, that it’s not about wretched excess or fancy brand names. Gymboree clothing, frankly, is just better. It’s better quality and longer-lasting. I would rather my kids have a small wardrobe of really cute, sharp-looking outfits that someone else can use after us than a closet full of cheap things they can only wear three times. I strayed away a little last year. Got sucked in by the hype of huge discounts and thought, “Why do I need to go to Gymboree when I have these other options?” But I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve seen the light. I’ve found my way back to the church of Gymboree, glory, hallelujah.


About msmaryb

I'm a native Californian who lives in Oklahoma. I'm a full-time student, pursuing a Bachelors in Anthropology, following which I hope to attain a Masters in Archaeology. I have three kids, one husband, no pets, and a lot of friends - most of whom live inside my computer. I love to read, write, watch tv (shut up, we can't all be brain surgeons), shop, and travel. I'm trying to set foot in all 50 states before I die. I have 38, so far. I love the Beatles and Maroon 5, and if you think those two things are incongruous, well, they are. But that's me. When I love something, I love it 100%. I don't do anything halfway. I want to know everything there is to know, so I'm trying to cram as much into my brain as I can in the short amount of time I'm allotted in this dimension.

3 responses »

  1. So I have to ask…do you sell your Gymboree clothes on ebay? I have just recently learned about Gymboree – their adorable clothes, the quality, and the fact that I can choose NWT or EUC outfits I love for huge discounts on ebay. You sound like someone that it would be great to buy hand-me-downs from. I agree with your post 100%.

    • Ostensibly I do sell them on eBay. However, I am, like, YEARS behind on that. I seriously have so much stored up it’s unreal. It drives my husband crazy. 🙂 I just need to buckle down and commit myself to doing, say, five outfits a week or something.

  2. I agree with you, Gymboree is simply built better, especially the older stuff. And between clearance shopping, coupons and Gymbucks, along with ebay, I pay less than Target prices. Plus recoup part of it when I resell. The catch is that you have to know when to stop…it’s sooo easy to get suckered into the 3 pairs of coordinating leggings (when one pair would have been sufficient), matching underwear (like anyone’s going to see it!), adorable match match socks, etc. But if you are able to control yourself, the value is there. I keep all my hair stuff even after the coordinating clothing is outgrown, because it can usually be used with other lines/brands and it lasts forever, unlike cheap hairbands. And I have two girls close in age, so everything is used twice. The better quality keeps me from needing to buy stuff as often. Moderation and only buying what you truly need and love is key.

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