Trends in apparel at baby stores vary across the United States, but babies are still being born, and best-sellers in apparel are also burgeoning. From new and improved comfortable fabrics to fun patterns and designs, the latest in apparel for tots is drawing shoppers.
At the Peanut Butter & Jelly Baby Store in Wilmington, N.C., Owner Gretchen Jones has survived hurricanes and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as knowing first-hand the financial challenges facing her customers. But that said, she is finding strong interest in some apparel items. She said her current apparel best-sellers are infant newborn footies and gowns.
“They do best for us when it comes to both boys and girls. They’re just something that everyone needs. We sell lots of other items too, but that is what I run out of first, and what people always seem to want. People buy lots of infant outfits to bring their babies home from the hospital.”
Within this garment area, tops for Jones is “a solid white gown trimmed in pink, blue, or white. The white is for those who don’t know the sex of the baby in advance. People often get them monograms on these gowns.” However, she said, “People would monogram the dog here if they could!” Jones’ 1,750-square foot shop sells baby accessories and furnishings as well as clothing from preemie sizes to 14.
Despite the financial struggles besetting the Wilmington community, and even for Jones herself due to the pandemic and the natural disasters that have come her way, selling more items is still dependent on in-person shopping. “Our Instagram is very popular, but I am not technological,” she explained, and it’s in-person displays and conversation that drive buying. She also noted that she “desperately needs” a website.
In Charlotte, Va., Ashley Sharp, owner of the 2,200-square-foot Green Bean Baby Boutique, cited her best-sellers as the brands Posh Peanut and City Mouse. “Lounge wear, swaddle sets and mommy robes are all big sellers from Posh Peanut. City Mouse is also popular with their muslin fabrics, a type of fabric that is trending right now. I think comfortable materials are the reason for these strong sales. Bamboo pants, organic cotton, and bamboo clothing in general all does well because it’s both soft, organic and eco-friendly.”
To sell more apparel items, Sharp said that “These days social media and merchandising are both equal. We get a ton of feedback on our store and its shopability, as well as the way it is laid out; but I think social media branding is also essential.” Additionally, many of the top-selling brands she carries have their own followings, who look for them on social media.
At Buttons, Bows and Britches, located in Louisville, Ky., Sales Associate Graydon Johnson, speaking for Owner Christie Campbell, described her apparel best-sellers as “Dresses for little girls and coats, such as the North Face brand , depending on the season, of course.” She described the high-end boutique consignment shop as carrying “Virtually everything in apparel from infants to pre-teens, and truly, what does best for us really depends on the time of year.” For the fall, the allure goes to soft and cuddly clothes.
And to sell more apparel? Johnson replied, “Word of mouth, Instagram, and Facebook. You need social media today to get the word out about a store.”
In Le Claire, Iowa, Sara Sampson, owner of the 800-square-foot Bamboo Baby Boutique terms her best-sellers as “Bamboo pajamas for sure. They are absolutely our top seller because they are so comfortable, soft, and silky. They’re light, smooth, and just wonderful to wear.” To sell more of these p.j.s or any other apparel, she said, “Everything matches up pretty evenly between the importance of displays in my store and my Instagram and Facebook. I post my outfits and I get a decent amount of exposure through that, which encourages people to buy.”
Also in Iowa, at Peek a Boo! in Cedar Falls, Owner Debra Kroll related that her 1,400-square-foot store is located on the town’s historic Main Street, and shoppers are often drawn to the lively location and ready to buy. “Apparel is super-hot right now. In the last year, it has really come around. I think it is the fabrics; and also, it’s new designs. Kickee Pants brand does very well with us. They’re made of spandex and viscous bamboo, and parents and grandparents absolutely love them. Even I love them for an adult. It’s a huge crowd favorite, that fabric. Another big draw for us is Magnetic Me by Magnificent Baby. The products are very unique: instead of using zippers and snaps, they use magnets, and the clothing is made of modal fabric that has similar properties to bamboo. It wears the same; and in terms of temperature regulation it is amazing. It is a dry-wick material so it cools babies if they overheat. And the use of magnets instead of snaps or zippers – it’s a great idea because it is so much easier for parents. Especially this time of year, that’s a product that just sells so great at the holidays. It’s a huge dad gift, dads with big fingers love it. If there is anything that brings dads into the store it is this brand,” she enthused.
To sell more of these or other items in her shop, Kroll has less faith in social media than some, calling it “hit or miss” depending on the algorithm. “But a website that customers can go to and see constant updates: that is huge for us. It is something that really helps us. It’s almost unbelievable now, but when COVID-19 struck, I didn’t have a website that offered ecommerce. I had to get it. I didn’t think it would be something that I would grow to like, and let alone love, but I do,” she said. “Honestly, the pandemic made me do something that I didn’t want to do at all, and it really opened up a new business market for me.” She added, “The website is a great tool to serve our local customer base, and it opens us to a whole new world of baby apparel sales.”
Baby, baby – everyone wants cute clothes for baby, and despite the pandemic and other financial challenges, apparel stores for wee ones are still reaching shoppers eager for adorable outfits.