Today, for the first time since I became a mother (5 years), I fell prey to a devious and evil predator. The mid-year toy sales.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good shop and I’m mad for a bargain but when you have one kid born in December and the other in February, the thought of shopping for them and spending a trolley full of money in June is vomit worthy.
I find the hype, the mad rush, the need to suddenly, in the middle of the year, buy more crap (take deep breath in here) such as Shopkins shoe mania bibs and bobs, Monster High and Nexo Nights Lego smashing stuff, Frozen hairdo styling something-or-rathers, Minecraft portal thingo’s and at the moment Finding Dory EVERYTHING including beach toys, bath toys, sun loungers, board games, a coffee pot play set (wtf) and a giant fricking Dory plush toy (and exhale), all too overwhelming and sickening.
But today a friend text me and said; “You’ve got to go to the Big W Big Brand Toy Sale, it’s going off!”. And while normally that would make me run the other way pulling at my hair and screaming (especially with a toddler at my heels), I decided to see what all the fuss was about…for blog purposes of course (!)
Earlier this week, the Big W catalogue arrived in the mail so I had a flick through but couldn’t see anything I was too interested in, and frankly, I was repulsed when I saw the words “Lay By Now For Christmas” written in capitols across it, so I flicked it to the side.
Little did I know when I rocked up to Big W at Karingal Hub this morning it was day one of the sales. DAY FRICKING ONE. And this wasn’t even the “opening”, apparently the store had been opened since midnight last night with reports of up to 300 eager toy beavers lined up outside in the cold waiting for the doors to open!
Well, obviously the momentum had not slowed, there were women, toys, dads, kids, grandparents and most of all, toys EVERYWHERE, in every aisle. Not just in the toy section either, they’ve bloody taken every godforsaken toy they had in the place and put it all out on whatever shelves they could, in the food section, the book section, the homewares, the office and the clothing sections. I’d never seen so many toys. And neither had Penny. She was in awe (pretty sure her dribbling was a result of her desire for the toys and not because her molars are sneaking through).
I started to feel a little claustrophobic but I decided to stick with it and check out the prices. They weren’t too bad, actually. I wouldn’t have said it was a mammoth sale but on average most things were reduced by about 20 – 30%. Every little bit counts of course. Unless you are JUST BUYING IT BECAUSE IT IS ON SALE. I know we are all guilty of this from time to time but I reckon these mid-year sales are very conniving and clever and are able to trap most of the people shopping at this time to do just that.
After grabbing a first birthday present for a party we are going to on the weekend (necessary buy and the main reason why I HAD to go shopping) and saving $10 on a good educational book and puzzle, I headed over to the big brands. At this stage I had no hope of getting Penny back into the pram and decided someone would hand her in if she happened to wander too far (joking of course, but kind of not…). She was frolicking about, eyeing off everything, much the same way I do in Dan Murphey’s, and was tickled pink by all the crap.
Oooooh, I then discovered board games were on sale too, a savings of $9 a game, in you go into the bottom of the pram Twister and Hungry Hippo, thank you very much Santa. I did my best to force my eyes away from the Shopkins paraphernalia and instead “accidentally” put a Monster High Lego set into the pram. Weaving the pram through the aisles and aisles of toys and shoppers, many with whom had double prams today for some reason, I suddenly realise Penny has gone AWOL.
“Penny, Penny where are you, come here,” I shout between the rainbow Barbie assorted feature dolls and the sounds of a Wowwee Robotics RoboRapture roaring.
“I here, I here Mum, I see Emma and Lachy and Simon” (for some reason she can’t ever remember Anthony’s name even though he’s a founding member!), she yells back at me.
I find her in the next aisle crouched down on the floor looking at a Wiggles Learn Your Shapes, Book and Floor Puzzle. She’s pretty chuffed with herself for finding what is probably the only Wiggles toy in the whole damn shop (what has happened to all the Wiggles stuff?!?). “Well, Ok, but only because it’s educational.” I am a victim.
In goes the Wiggles stuff, some bubbles, some jumbo colouring and sticker pads, some Disney movie storybooks, a Finding Dory book (couldn’t walk out of there without some kind of Finding Dory merchandise), a birthday card and $144 later… I have succumbed to the lure.
I had failed. But not as badly as some. As I walk around the next corner, my little pram holding those few items, I see them…the Lay By Mums…
Their trolleys are brimming, many overflowing, many dropping out onto the floor, dozens of boxes with Star Wars, Tonka, Ninja Turtles, Barbie, Shopkins, Monster High, Fisher Price, Lego, Toy Story, Elves, Tinkers, whatever the brand name they’ve got it.
It was only 10am and there they were, about 20 or 30 of them, their Christmas shopping already done and dusted, lining up waiting for their goodies to be checked into lay by, ready to be picked up in six months time. I’m betting that some of them had spent thousands today, no doubt the mixed feelings of excitement and repulsion playing on their their minds.
I had to speak to some of them, I had to ask them why. Why were they certain the things they were putting away today would be liked by their children at Christmas in six months time? How do they know their kids would still be into Monster High and Thomas the Tank Engine?
But after chatting to a few mums briefly while they waited in the lay by line, they tell me why they do it, and it’s not just about saving money. In fact they all said the same thing; it’s about organisation. It’s about taking the stress out of Christmas, both financially and mentally. They buy now, pay instalments throughout the rest of the year and pick up the gifts closer to Christmas.
Come December, the work is already done and all they need to do is pick up their packages and wrap before Santa comes. One mum said she loves it because not only does she save money, she is also able to store the toys elsewhere without worrying about her children finding them (apparently Santa’s sack was found in a wardrobe one year and his cover was blown).
Here are some other tips the lovely ladies in the Big W lay by line gave me;
Be organised. Plan your trip, read the catalogue. It’s all very overwhelming so if you go in with a clear plan of what you want to achieve you can get it done without getting distracted by all the pretty colours and price drops.
Have a list. Write down who you want to buy for, what you want to spend and what you plan to buy for the person and stick to it. If you’re not sure what exactly you want to buy for the budget you’ve got you can still write a list, eg, one big present, two craft presents, a book, a game, two stocking fillers etc etc.
Only buy what you need. Think about the product before you put it in the trolley. Are you just buying it because it’s on sale or do you think the child will really benefit from it?
Be prepared to wait. The lay by lines can be massive, with people waiting in line for almost an hour. Make sure you have cleared your schedule and have your patient mum hat on (not really sure if I have one of these but I’m sure someone could lend me one for an hour or two).
Don’t take kids with you. Well that’s an obvious one, any kind of shopping is easier without children especially a monster sale with people and toys all over the place, MAHEM. It’s easy to buy something if you see them playing with it too, even if you’ve already got five things for them in the trolley. And we all know kids can be sneaky little manipulators when it comes to them conning you into buying them something they don’t need!
Buy things the children will still enjoy in a year. When it comes to brands and trends, some last and some don’t. Think about how old they will be in six months time, think about the season and the type of toy and if it will appeal to them for another year or so.
Avoid the crowds. If you don’t think you can handle the rush of the crowds and the waiting, go on another day other than the first. There are so many toys it’s very unlikely your list of things will be gone if you go a little later into the sale. This one is on until July 6, so what’s the rush!
Well there you have it. While I don’t know if I am quite ready to take the full plunge and buy all my Christmas presents in the middle of the year just yet, I’ve certainly had some food for thought today… (or some $$ taken out of my purse!).
Do you do the mid-year toy sale??