Is the “Fitch the Homeless” Campaign a Good Idea?

English: The image of Abercrombie & Fitch today.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a new viral movement in response to comments and actions by Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries. I won’t get into the details about what he said, but if you Google his name you’ll have plenty to read. He’s made some very insensitive remarks about the type of market that his store targets (“cool” kids), and apparently A&F burns clothes rather than donating them in order to preserve their brand image (I’m not sure if this has been verified or not).

In response, a filmmaker named Greg Karber has suggested that we take all of our old A&F clothing and donate it to the homeless. He wants to make A&F the “official brand of the homeless”. He’s even created a video, which is quickly making its way around social media. So the homeless get new clothes, A&F gets their comeuppance, and everything works out, right?

I felt uneasy watching the video, but couldn’t quite articulate why. Was it the way that Karber was just throwing the clothes on top of people laying on the street? Was it the way that he decided to create an entire movement without asking the participants if they even wanted to be involved? After pondering it for a while, I found an easier way to explain my discomfort.

How would you feel if someone came up to you and told you to wear something because it would devalue the brand?

It doesn’t matter if you needed clothing or not, it would feel pretty shitty. Just because someone is sitting on a sidewalk doesn’t mean that they have no pride. Just because someone needs assistance doesn’t mean that they are obliged to cater to the whims of those that are providing it. I would feel a whole lot more comfortable with this campaign if it were initiated and perpetuated by members of the homeless community due to a perceived injustice on their part.

I understand that people are upset with Jeffries, but the best way to retaliate is to vote with your dollars. Just don’t shop there. Ask your friends not to shop there. Put him out of business. A brand whose entire value is based on image doesn’t have much to stand on. Make your voice heard on Twitter and Facebook and other social media that you don’t think that wearing A&F is a cool thing to do.

We don’t need to demoralize others to stand up for what we think is right. By doing so we are, in essence, reinforcing the idea of a caste system where more value is placed on those with privilege. That makes us no better than Jeffries. People’s hearts are in the right place to want to speak out against his bigotry, but I’m just not sure that this campaign is the right way to do it.

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Top 5 Baby Shower Gift Ideas

I recently wrote a post on the five baby items that I love the most. A friend commented that the post was helpful for people who want to know what to buy for baby showers. It got me to thinking. Before I had a baby, I had no idea what to buy as a baby shower gift. I usually defaulted to purchasing clothes because they are cute and easy to pick out. Now I know that the last thing that most parents need is more tiny clothes. The post on my five favourite items included some big-ticket items, like strollers and monitors, that you’re unlikely to buy as a shower gift. So I’m devising a new, slightly modified list.

Based on my experience, the following are the top five things that I was thankful to receive as shower gifts. Keep in mind, I’m a practical gal, so they aren’t all super exciting. These gifts might not get a lot of attention, but the parents will be thankful. Trust me.

Pampers diapers

Image courtesy of http://www.well.ca

  •  Diapers – You might have to do a bit of recon before you purchase this gift. There are about a million different types of diapers available. If the baby has already been born, ask the parents what kind of diapers they prefer. Then buy that brand in a size or two larger than they are currently using. Or buy a few different sizes. If the baby hasn’t been born, the parents probably at least know if they are planning on using cloth or disposable diapers. Buy them a small assortment. We received so many diapers at our shower that I don’t think we needed to buy any until baby P. was about three months old. It was fantastic.
blankets

Image courtesy of http://www.toysrus.ca

  • Receiving blankets – Yup, they made the list again. These blankets are so useful and you can never have too many. We received some pretty polka-dotted ones that I just love. Buy a few, because they’ll be used!
sleep sack

image courtesy of http://www.halosleep.com

  • Sleep sack – This was on my previous list as well. Most parents that I know love these things. They are a little bit pricey ($20-$30 each), so most parents will probably only invest in one or two. We only had one for a while and ended up washing it every other day when my baby spit up on it. We finally bought a couple more and it made our lives a lot easier. I think this is a safe bet for an awesome shower gift. And they come in different colours and patterns, so you can have fun picking it out!
Personalized blanket

Image courtesy of Sweetpeas & Bumblebees Etsy shop http://tinyurl.com/d425bza

  • Something personalized – This is probably only a safe gift if the baby has already been born and named. I know people who were dead set on a name prior to the birth and then changed it once the baby arrived, so if you’re attending a shower before the baby is born, use caution. Otherwise, personalized blankets make a great gift. Head on over to Etsy.com for hundreds of options, and the ability to buy a super gift from the comfort of your computer. We received a personalized blanket and a huge personalized bath towel. I love both. The towel is great because we can use it when we go swimming and I don’t have to worry about anyone else claiming that it’s theirs. Gifts like these are much appreciated and show a lot of care and thought.
gift card

Image courtesy of http://www.toysrus.ca

  • Gift cards – When all else fails, if you’re short on time or ideas then a gift card is a great idea for new parents. There’s going to be a bunch of stuff that they need that they didn’t anticipate and it will make it a lot easier on their pocketbook if they have a few gift cards. After our baby was born, we had to go out and buy bottles and a sterilizer within a few days home from the hospital. Thank goodness for the gift cards that we received. It turned a several hundred-dollar purchase into something much more manageable.

Well, that’s my list. I hope you find it helpful. If you have kids, what did you receive as a shower gift that you were grateful for?

Top 5 Baby Items to Buy Second-Hand (0-6 months)

In two previous posts, I let you know what baby items I found useful and which ones I wish I wouldn’t have bought. Today, I’m going to list the items that you should easily be able to find second-hand.

I recently discovered buy/sell/swap/auction pages on Facebook. They’re super popular, so you should see if they have one in your area. These pages are a fantastic place to find deals on baby things. Craigslist and thrift stores are also a great place to find used kids items. I’ve spent some time hunting down deals, and I’m starting to notice some trends for things that parents always seem to be selling for a fraction of the cost of what you would pay if you bought it new. Here are the top five things that you should be able to save money on by buying second-hand:

  • Clothes – Parents tend to be given a lot of clothes for their newborn, and babies grow quickly. Especially for sizes newborn to 6 months, you can find brand new or almost new clothes quite inexpensively. Since young babies aren’t mobile, most of these clothes are in pretty good condition. It’s important that babies aren’t exposed to second-hand smoke, so try to find clothes that come from a non-smoking home. Look for parents selling “lots” of clothes; people will often get rid of all of their baby’s clothes in a certain size all at once (I just bought a box of 30 pieces of clothing for $50). Thrift stores are another great place to find good condition, used clothes. When buying second-hand clothing, make sure you wash it well before your baby wears it.
  • Books – I was shocked to learn how much a new children’s book costs. $20 for a picture book! It’s easy to find good condition, used kid’s books. Thrift stores are usually overflowing with them and so they sell them super inexpensively. Many also give you a deal if you buy a certain amount (like buy four, get one free). You’ll want to flip through the book before you buy it as many of them have rips, scribbles, stickers, or stains in them…but there are many that are in perfect condition.
  • Bassinet – some people may not be comfortable with the idea of buying their baby’s first bed second-hand, but we did and I’m glad that we didn’t spend over $100 to buy one new. My baby initially hated it, then got used to it but quickly outgrew it, so we only got a couple of month’s use out of it. There are lots of parents trying to sell bassinets as many thrift stores won’t accept them. As a result, you can get a great deal (I bought mine used for $40 and ending up reselling it for $20). Look for a modern style to ensure it complies with recent safety regulations. You want something sturdy, and if it comes with a stand make sure that the bed clips or fastens securely to the stand. And, of course, you’ll want to wash all the bedding and mattresses that it comes with before your baby sleeps in it.
  • Toys – the second-hand market is saturated with used toys. I have a theory that if we stopped producing new toys now, we’d still have enough to pass down to future generations until the end of time. Because of this, parents have to practically give toys away. I like buying hard plastic toys (like stacking rings, nesting cups, shape sorters) second-hand because they can be washed and sterilized in the dishwasher. Wooden toys can also be easily cleaned. I’m a little iffy on plush toys; they often look grubby and I never know if I can clean them well enough because of all the stuffing. Thrift store toys can be a bit overpriced; I like buying at garage sales or directly from parents because they’re usually so desperate to get rid of it that they’ll give you a deal.
  • Activity mats, bouncy chairs, swings etc. – Babies outgrow these items quickly so, again, you can usually find a good deal
    play mat

    Image courtesy of http://www.toysrus.ca

    on items that are relatively new. I would look for chairs that have removable cloth liners that can be machine washed. Most play mats can be tossed in with the laundry. If you’re buying a bouncer or jumper, make sure that it’s been assembled correctly and it still has all of its pieces.

Top 5 Baby Items That You Don’t Need (0-6 months)

In a previous post, I listed the top five baby items that made my life a lot easier. The overwhelming majority of baby items on the market these days are things that are nice to have, but not really necessary. Following is my list of things that I think you can save your money by not buying.

  •  Baby shoes – I’m not going to lie. Baby shoes are super cute. My baby gets more compliments on his shoes than on any other part of his wardrobe. But they’re completely unnecessary. He doesn’t walk, and when we go out his feet are usually covered by socks, a sleeper, or a blanket (or all three). Babies’ feet grow quickly, and if you’re like me you’ll end up with a bin of super cute, unworn shoes with the tags still on. If you want to buy shoes for your baby, invest in one pair in a neutral colour.

    crib

    Image courtesy of Wikipedia

  • Crib wedges, pillows, bumper pads, etc. – most safe sleep guidelines recommend not placing any additional blankets or paraphenelia in your baby’s bed. A crib all decked out with bumper pads does look pretty cute, but all of the moms that I know who bought them ended up taking them out of the crib once their baby started to roll around. Why take the risk? Save your money and buy a cute fitted sheet for the crib or a mobile that your baby can enjoy too.
  • Bottle sterilizer – we actually use our bottle sterilizer all the time, so I’m not going to say that it hasn’t been useful, but it’s a big, clunky, electric thing that takes up an entire counter. When we go to someone else’s house, we inevitably end up steaming our bottles on the stove using a deep pot with a built-in strainer. I wish that we would have bought one of those instead. That way, it could fit in the cupboard and we would have a use for it after our bottle sterilizing days are over.
  • Newborn size diapers – you’ll want to have some diapers on hand when your baby arrives, but I would caution against buying too many in the same size or brand. We ended up with boxes of extra newborn diapers because my baby outgrew them so quickly (and he wasn’t a big newborn). We also discovered that a certain brand of diapers leak, so we ended up getting rid of a few boxes of those as well. All parents have a favourite brand and style of diaper. If you want to stock up on diapers before the baby gets here, I would recommend buying a variety of sizes and brands. That way, if one of them doesn’t work out, you’re not stuck giving away hundreds of dollars worth of diapers. If you’re using cloth diapers, the same applies. Buy a variety of styles and see what works before investing too much money.
  • Baby videos – I don’t want to mention brand names, but there are some prominent companies out there who make DVD’s designed especially for babies. There is new research being done that has concluded that watching TV may not be beneficial for infants. Now, I’m not telling you to not let your baby watch TV. I have the TV on in my house during the day. I’m just saying that those specialty baby DVD’s are super expensive, and the company that manufactures them has admitted that they have no educational value. Save your money and read to your baby instead. If you want to watch TV with your baby, watch one of the hundreds of kids programs available on the cable that you’re already paying for. Your baby won’t be less of a genius for it!

In an upcoming post, I’ll continue helping you to save money by listing the top 5 baby things that you should buy second-hand.

Top 5 Baby Items That I Love (0-6 months)

If you’ve been to a Babies ‘R’ Us lately then you know about the ridiculous variety of items that you can buy for infants and toddlers these days.

When you find out you’re expecting, it can be overwhelming to choose what to buy. Most of us are on a limited budget, and don’t want to spend money on a bunch of crap that we’re never going to use. But how do you know what you need? Well, that’s where I come in because I’m going to tell you. I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of a ton of free baby stuff, given to me by my brother and sister whose kids had just outgrown it. Some of it was useful, and some of it wasn’t. I have compiled a list of the top five items that I would definitely recommend for new parents. I’m not being sponsored or endorsed by any of these companies; this is totally my opinion based on my experience.

sleep sack

Image courtesy of http://www.halosleep.com

  • Sleep sack – I love putting my baby to sleep in this. Safe sleep guidelines suggest that you not put your baby to bed with a blanket, but I wanted to keep my baby warm. The sleep sack is warm, comfortable, and roomy enough that your baby can move his legs around inside it. It comes in different sizes, and depending on the brand may be sleeveless or have long sleeves (I love the long-sleeved ones). They can seem a little pricey at $20-$30 each, but if you use it every night like I do, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth out of it.
bottle warmer

Image courtesy of http://www.toysrus.com

  • Bottle warmer – babies like warm milk. I didn’t want to warm bottles in the microwave, but waiting for water to heat up on the stove, then placing the bottle in the water until it was warm took forever. When my little guy is hungry, he’s hungry now! The bottle warmer that we have is awesome. It heats up a bottle from the fridge in about 2-3 minutes. You just dump some water in the bottom of the warmer, pop in the bottle, and press a button. Steam heats up the bottle quickly with no hot spots. I love my warmer!
blankets

Image courtesy of http://www.toysrus.ca

  • Receiving blankets – I was given many of these as gifts. At first, I had no clue what they were for. I folded them up and put them in a drawer and figured that if I didn’t need them, I’d just get rid of them. Now, almost six months later, I probably go through two or three blankets a day. They are great for cleaning up spit-up and drool on your baby’s face, clothes, the floor, etc. When your baby is little, you can use them to swaddle him. If I’m out at a play group or someone’s house and want to put my baby on the floor, I can spread one out and put him on top. I tuck one onto my baby when he’s in the car seat or stroller to keep him warm and for easy clean-up. Honestly, it’s rare to see me without one of these blankets tossed over my shoulder. They are so immeasurably useful. Buy more than you think you’ll need, because you’ll be using them all the time and they get dirty quickly.
travel system

Image courtesy of http://www.toysrus.ca

  • Travel system – if you’re going to leave the house with your baby, you’re going to need a car seat and probably a stroller. Travel systems are cool because the car seat clips right on to the stroller, so you can transition the baby from your house to the car to the stroller without having to take him out of the seat. It’s great for babies who like to sleep in the car because you can get them into the house without having to wake them up. My little guy just outgrew his travel system car seat and we’re adjusting to having to strap and unstrap him from the new seat to get him in and out of the car. The travel system was WAY easier. I miss it.
monitor

Image courtesy of http://www.toysrus.ca

    • Video monitor – my partner and I had a lot of discussion about what kind of monitor we wanted. The video monitors are quite a bit more expensive than the ones that just provide audio, so we were trying to decide if it would be worth it. In the end, we decided to splurge and spend a bit more for a video monitor and I’m glad we did. I love being able to turn on the visual and watch my baby in his crib. Even if I can’t hear him, sometimes I can see him wriggling around so I know that he’s okay. When he’s older and more mobile, it will be nice to be able to check on him and see what he’s up to in his room. Considering that we’ll be using the monitor every day for at least a couple of years, it was definitely worth the extra expense.

These are the five items that I have found most useful in the first six months of my baby’s life. I hope that you find this helpful. In my next post, I’ll help you save some money by listing the five baby items that I found totally unnecessary.