Boden and Mini Boden Clearance Sale Review (Boston, February 7, 2015)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

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If you want to read a few of my other reviews of past  Boden sales, you can find them  here,  here and  here. Today I arrived at the Hynes around 7. At the last sale (September 2014) I had been pleasantly surprised to see a shorter-than-usual line when I arrived - but that wasn't the case today. By 7 am there were already about 50 women lined up. I happened to arrive at the same time as several women from one of my facebook shopping-groups, so we all chatted for the 3 hours until the sale opened up. This made the time seem to pass by so quickly! I was somewhat nervous about whether or not we would get in on the first intake, but we did! Just after 10 the doors opened and I went running for the boys table as usual (I have two boys, ages 5 and 7). I was immediately disappointed when I arrived at the boys table and saw... spots of bare table. Normally the tables are covered with enormous piles of clothing. Over the past three sales, the amount of boys clothing seems to have been decreasing, but this is the first time I've been really disappointed in the selection of clothes in the sizes I want. I was able to grab a few nice things, but only because I was one of the first people to arrive at the table. At all the past sales, there has been an abundance of large size (9+) boys clothing - but at this one, everything was gone from the table within the first 3 minutes of the sale, and the concentration seemed to be smaller sizes. I heard from several people that the girl's selection was good this time, and that table had MUCH higher piles when I came in.

Best dress I found today, the Dartmouth Tunic for $40. Score!

But there was good news. Since I spent so little time at the boys table, I quickly moved on to women's, and there the selection was wonderful! In total I bought 4 dresses, a cashmere-blend cardigan, and a top for me. For my boys I bought one sweater, one hoody, one pair of pjs, two long sleeved tops, one pair of lined cotton pants, and one pair of lined jeans. My best find of the day was the Dartmouth Tunic Dress I found in my size for $40 - which is currently featured on Boden's site for $148. Almost all the dresses I tried on (even a few that I rejected for one reason or another) fit really nicely - I find that the brand in general is wonderful in terms of being flattering on a range of different body types. I saw lots of other ladies getting some gorgeous things that looked great on them!

This time I didn't have as much luck with the discard piles as I've had in the past. I found all but one of my items myself, on the tables. Yet again I got distracted and forgot to take photos inside the hall of all the craziness - but here is a photo taken by Amy Wu of some of the shoppers (with their giant shopping bags! Don't forget those.)

Below are the current prices - some things (hats, pjs, backpacks, socks, underwear...) do not seem to have an assigned price, so there is some variation in what people have been charged. If anyone from Boden is reading this, I would really encourage them to fix this issue by assigning a price to every category of item!! I was told that an item was $15, and my friend bought it and was charged $5. It's very frustrating as a buyer to hear that different people are paying different prices for things. Another example - last time I bought a sweatshirt and was charged $25 (I was told it "counted as a jacket") - at this sale, all kids' hoodies were $15 and apparently counted as tops.

All in all I am excited about my great buys today - but I hope that the decreasing amount of children's items is not a trend that continues. Please Boden, go back to the old method and send more kid's items to Boston!

I will definitely be going to the next sale in September (for a schedule of upcoming Boden sales, including the September 2015 date, check my webpage listing). I have a bunch of tips listed on that page about what to wear, what to bring, and where to park (scroll down on the page). If you are interested in seeing discussions of each Boston Boden sale, get $5 off coupons for each sale, or find out who to contact about working at a sale, join my facebook group (and message me.)

Last but not least, if you want MORE discounted Boden and Mini Boden and you don't feel like leaving your house, here are a few ways to save money on Boden right at home.
  1. To get regular updates on Boden coupon codes (I never personally order without at least a 20% off code) - join Sample Sale Mom Deals on Facebook, as I regularly post the current coupon codes.   
  2. Online discounter Zulily sometimes has Boden sales at up to 50% off catalog prices. You can also search in their search bar any time and they often have a few Boden items on sale. To be alerted about upcoming Boden sales on Zulily, you can click the white heart next to "Boden" on the site so that it turns red. They also have sales on plenty of other awesome brands - some of my favorites include Hanna Andersson, Tea Collection, Kate Quinn Organics, Keen & Sophie Catalou.
  3. Several other sites now occasionally sell Boden "vouchers" - For $35 you can buy a $50 Boden voucher good on anything on the site. There is usually a one or two per household restriction, per voucher sale. Sites that sell Boden vouchers include Zulily, and Rue La La, and I post all of these sales by the day they start on my facebook group
  4. If you love Mini Boden, check out Hatley, which is high-quality, (read the reviews) to-die-for cute, and can be much less expensive. 
Post contains affiliate and referral links. If you buy through my links, I will receive a merchandise credit or a small percentage of commission. Thanks for supporting Sample Sale Mom!!

10 Best Toys

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Over the past 8 years we’ve gone through a lot of toys. Some get played with for a day and then sit in their storage bins gathering dust. Others are beautifully-designed but don’t hold my kids’ interest. Then there are the loud, plastic noise-maker toys that my children love and I cannot stand! (light-up shrieking toy jackhammer anyone?) There are a few toys, though, that have been heavily played with for years. I recommend any of these as great holiday or birthday gifts. Although I have sons, these are not just toys for boys, and all of them would be great fun for girls as well. These are listed in no particular order. (This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something via one of my links I may receive a small percentage of your purchase price.)

1. Legos – My boys are currently ages 5 and 7, and legos have taken over our house. Sometimes the classic toys really ARE the best! Whether they're putting together complex sets or free-building an architectural design, my sons are completely absorbed by their legos. Until now I've almost entirely avoided toys with teeny tiny pieces that can get lost or lodged in my foot, but Legos are the exception. Best place to buy - Amazon or the Lego store (they have a loyalty program). Occasionally sets pop up on discounter Zulily - search for the term "brickmaster".

2. Anything from Plan Toys – I cannot say enough great things about this company and the cool toys they make! Eco-friendly, award-winning, beautiful and clever, Plan Toys are made from Rubberwood. And they are VERY hard to break. When he was a baby my younger son loved this cone stacker. Then as toddlers my kids adored the large wood construction vehicles shown in the photo (unfortunately a lot of these have been discontinued - Hope Plan Toys will bring them back!) Currently we're obsessed with the large, PlanEducation kits. These are primarily sold to schools and they hold about 130 pieces, like tool kits or building sets. They're occasionally featured on Gilt  at about half price, and they come in a big, gorgeous rubberwood box. Other cool wood toy brands include Hape, Wonderworld, Kidkraft, and, if you have a big budget - Grimm's - WOW are the Grimm's toys gorgeous. Unfortunately I was never able to afford them when my kids were little!!

3. A Wood Play Kitchen – My sons spent many hours pretending to prep and cook food for me. I think they were especially interested in their kitchen because my husband is the cook in our family. I prefer wood to plastic since it looks and holds up better. The one we had (pictured) is from Hape, and included a lot of really cute food. The Ikea version is darling too. And the Kidkraft versions are cute and come in many different color themes.

4. Trains and Tracks – These are readily available used, and you can save a lot of money buying them via craigslist, ebay, yard sales, or your local mom-listserve. And since they hold up well, you can sell them once you are done with them! Before we bought our train table (found at a yard sale for $30), my older son and I would build tracks on the hardwood floor in endless permutations. I found that the Brio trains were better-looking and better constructed than the comparable Thomas or Ikea ones. But many of the trains (and tracks) are compatible and can be used together.

5. Plasmacar – Of the many ride-ons we’ve tried, this one is the best. It can be driven without using one’s feet. It requires no batteries — it’s propelled by mechanical operation, by moving the steering wheel back and forth kids can ride in either direction. The best thing about this toy is something most parents don’t know — it has a 220 pound weight limit. This means an adult can drive it around the house with a small child seated in front. I really enjoy cruising around with my younger son! And now both of our children have started riding around together. Note: don’t opt for one of the knockoff brands, reviews say they’re inferior to the original. If it does not say Plasmacar, it is not a Plasmacar, it is a knockoff.

6. Magnatiles – My kids love many building toys, but these win the most-played-with award. Magnetic blocks are lighter, less apt to get lost and much easier to clean up than standard blocks. And children love the way the magnets snap together to create boxes and shapes. Magnatiles can be used to build huge structures, and this clear type (which we prefer) allows kids to create transparent boxes to hold other toys. You can often Magnatiles sets from Zulily on sale, but Amazon doesn't discount them. Honorable mention for other good building toys includes Tegu blocks and SmartMax. I've heard good things about Magformers as well, but we do not have them. Update: check out the NEW black and clear magnatiles sets - I ordered these for my kids for Christmas this year. (Update: check Zulily for those sets, if you can find them there they'll be lower priced than on Amazon.)

7. A Butterfly NetThis turned out to be the best birthday presents my son has ever received (yes, it's from a third party seller so you'll have to pay for shipping - but totally worth it). He has hunted and captured bugs, toads, frogs, fish, crabs, eels, and yes, even snakes with his net. In the process he has become fascinated with the natural world and different animal species.

8. Art Supplies  – (And yep, I linked to Sharpies. My kids have done some wonderful work with Sharpies. May not be appropriate for younger or unsupervised kids.) I think one way to get kids more interested in art is give them a good variety of tools to work with. Let’s face it, the basic 8-pack of crayola crayons or markers kids use at school are pretty lame. I don’t feel any desire to color when I look at them, do you? For younger kids, a set of these nice markers from Pro Art are a great value at a low price. Just make sure kids put the caps back on. Or spring for a nice art set from Xonex. Check Zulily for availability also. Art kits make great, gender-neutral birthday gifts.

9. A Maxi Kick Scooter – We've tried many scooters and this is the best one on the market. The third wheel and simple rear breaking system make it easy for a young child to ride. And the steering column is totally intuitive – twisting the handle is not necessary. If you pull it horizontally to the right, the scooter glides right. After being intimidated by a basic razor, my kids happily scoot around everywhere on their Maxi Kicks all summer long. Don't bother with the Mini Kick - your child will grow out of it in no time. The Maxi Kick adjusts to an extremely low handlebar height, making it suitable even for a 3 year old to ride (suggested starting age is 5, but I think that must be a liability thing.) The only downside of the Maxi Kick it is high price tag. Find them on Amazon, or occasionally on sale on Gilt, so definitely watch their kids section if you're in the market.

10. Papo and Schleich figures – These two brands in particular make highly detailed miniature figures (about 4 inches high) that have given my kids endless hours of pretend play inspiration. First they loved their animals, then they moved on to their knights and mythical beasts and now they have "battles" and play games with their collection. If your kids are into dinosaurs, check out the amazing Schleich ones with open and closable mouths - so realistic! We love these. Get them on Amazon, at local toy stores or at a discount when they're featured on Zulily.

Post contains affiliate links. If you buy through my links, I will receive a merchandise credit or a small percentage of commission. Thanks for supporting Sample Sale Mom!!