Blackbird Kid Shop going out at half-off

The Missoula Independent and Mamalode (via Facebook) are reporting that Missoula’s Blackbird Kids Shop is selling off everything – down to the hangers and shelves – at a deep 50 percent discount before closing its doors for good.

There’s no word yet on what the expected closure date is, but the retail store has been in business for about three years, offering the cutest locally made kids’ clothes you ever did see among its array of child-friendly items.

According to the Independent blog, store owners cite the ongoing economic slump as the No. 1 reason for the closure.

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Fear of layoffs a factor in back-to-school shopping outlook this year

In theory I subscribe to the needs-over-wants attitude toward back-to-school shopping. But when that list of must-have school supplies landed in our mailbox a while back, I have to admit, the thought of buying a brand-new box of crayons and new glue made me smile.

Back to school already? But there are still almost two months to go before the first day of school on August 29!

Nevertheless, the National Retail Federation is preparing to release its latest survey results, which focus on parent expectations on their back-to-school shopping needs.

Back-to-school shoppers are expected to be a little more practical-minded this year, according to NRF partner BIGresearch. The survey results showed that nearly half the respondents report being more practical shoppers already.

And more than 25 percent of respondents said they fear that more job layoffs are coming – which goes hand-in-hand with the one-third of respondents who say they are focusing their financial activities on paying down debt, leading to a decrease in spending.

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Now it’s dad’s turn: Father’s Day spending expected to increase

Recession resmeshen. Just as Mother’s Day spending was predicted to pick up this year, so too are the experts saying that Father’s Day spending will increase. In fact, the National Retail Federation says spending will reach its highest level in at least eight years, with Americans expected to shell out slightly more than $106 on average for Dad.

This is still less than 2011 Mother’s Day spending, which was predicted to top $140 – but it’s significantly more than the $94.82 average spent on Father’s Day presents last year.

“Spending on Dad has taken a backseat for the past few years, but some kids and wives are planning to make up for lost time this Father’s Day,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Shoppers seem to be more excited when it comes to gift giving, an encouraging sign for retailers – and dads – everywhere.”

Huh. I sure hope my husband doesn’t see this as an encouraging sign. I happen to know for a fact that our daughter’s entire savings amounts to $17.50. That might buy a tie or some fishing tackle, but the more likely gift is going to be a handmade something-or-other and a hand-drawn card. Of course, he’ll get the day “off” to do whatever he wants, and maybe I’ll help Willow make her dad his favorite breakfast or dinner. Or maybe we’ll treat him to a meal at a restaurant.

Whatever the day brings, I know it won’t have to cost a dime to be absolutely wonderful.

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Start your Mother’s Day early at the annual Mother’s Day Eve Bash in Missoula!

Sick of Mother’s Day stuff yet? Nah, neither am I.

I continue to dip my attention into the constant stream of Mother’s Day retail trends, and come back dripping with information like this:

How do consumers show their love and appreciation for mom? Typically it’s a nice brunch, some flowers or maybe a homemade meal shared with the family. This year, mom is getting an iPad. Maybe even a diamond necklace.  NRF’s latest Mother’s Day survey found that the average person will spend $140 on mom, with the biggest chunk of that going to luxurious items such as jewelry and consumer electronics. Those looking for more creative ways to spoil mom will seek out gardening tools, kitchenware and even spa treatments.

Well. What to say to that.

Missoula gives something even better than diamonds and electronics to its moms each year on the night before Mother’s Day: The Mother’s Day Eve Bash. The brainchild of Missoula mom Elke Govertsen, the bash has undeniably grown over the years.

Moms who show up at Peak Heath & Wellness this Saturday between the hours of 7 and 11 p.m. can expect to be greeted at the door with a goody bag before moving on to enjoy “Yoga, pampering, wine, and celebrating another year of mothering,” according to the Mamalode website.

Mamalode? Oh, that’s just Elke Govertsen’s OTHER hugely successful brainchild. It’s this magazine and website “for the whole mother.” And it, of course, has a ton more information about the Mother’s Day Eve Bash. Check out that info here.

And I’ll see you there!

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Survey says moms will get pampered this Mother’s Day

The countdown to Mother’s Day 2011 has begun! We now have less than a week to go, and according to some recent reports, we moms can look forward to an extra spending – er – extra-special day.

A National Retail Federation survey completed in late April predicts that Americans are poised to spend more on Mother’s Day this year than they have in recent years. The chart included with the article shows a very short timeline, but it does have 2011 spending returning to roughly 2007-2008 levels.

And that, mamas, means spending is expected to top $16 billion. That’s a lot of flowers and greeting cards.

Then again, BizReport has an article up about how online shoppers are expected to spend 10 percent more than other retail shoppers. The article notes one-third of shoppers “intend to spend $219.40 on their moms, 10% more than last year.”

Then there’s this: “A new survey from the Mom Complex, the marketing-to-mothers division of the Martin Agency, reports that 30% of moms say they typically get honored for no more than 5 to 10 minutes on Mother’s Day. In fact, 40% feel their husband and children come first on Mother’s Day, and 12% feel they don’t even make the list.”

How’s that for a mixed message?

Personally, the best Mother’s Day gifts I’ve gotten didn’t cost a dime. My first Mother’s Day, my 7-month-old surprised me by sleeping for a full six uninterrupted hours. The next year, she gave me a near-perfect circle she had cut out of construction paper, all by herself. I carried it around with me for weeks and showed it to all my coworkers. It still fills me with pride whenever I look at it.

And last year, my daughter sang this song, to the tune of “O Christmas Tree”: On Mother’s Day, on Mother’s Day/ O how I love you mom/ On Mother’s Day, on Mother’s Day/ O how I love you mom/ You give me joy and happiness/ I give you love, a hug and kiss/ On Mother’s Day, on Mother’s Day/ O how I love you mom.

What’s been your favorite Mother’s Day gift, either given or received?

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Baby formula a top target for shoplifters

Last week ABC News carried an in-depth story about the dramatic numbers of thefts involving formula for infants.

It’s on a scale that suggests this formula is not being stolen by desperate parents; rather, it’s become a hot item for organized retail thieves.

In response, the International Formula Council and others are asking U.S. Congress members to make baby formula theft an offense subject to federal racketeering laws.

These groups want to crack down on the formula thefts not only because it’s a growing crime, but also because it presents a potential hazard to infants who are fed stolen formula:

“Improper storage conditions can potentially affect the nutrient content or physical appearance of infant formula, which could impact the product’s nutritional value and safety as well as potentially threaten an infant’s health,” says the International Formula Council’s Robert Rankin, as quoted in the article.

It’s worth reading to the end of this news story for the account of a recent bust named “Operation Milk Money” by the feds. It gives a sense of where this formula is ending up – and how much money the thieves are making off their crime.

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Moms who plan ahead get blame for ‘Christmas creep’

If you walked into one of the major retailers in western Montana this weekend and were shocked to see Christmas items sharing shelf space with Halloween leftovers, consider yourself in good company. I know it SEEMS like Christmas comes earlier each year, but this is ridiculous.

The retail phenomenon known as “Christmas creep” is not just happening in  western Montana, either. Major U.S. retailers have already starting their toy-pricing wars in anticipation of a particularly brutal Christmas shopping season.

Warms the heart, doesn’t it?

Well, fellow moms, take note: it’s all being done in our name. Apparently moms are considered the “Chief Gift Giver” of the household, and since we try to get our holiday shopping done before the last minute, retailers feel forced to grab our attention earlier in the year.

Not me, though. I refuse to even THINK about Christmas until after Thanksgiving (well, except for this post), and in fact, as in years past, I will be taking a decidedly minimalist approach to the season, with homemade decorations, simple gifts, and a focus on the fact that reaching for one’s wallet is not an automatic expression of love for one’s family.

The big question is, can I maintain this approach all the way from now until Christmas? Time will tell …

– MM

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