I’m already planning my back-to-school shopping trip during next weekend’s sales tax holiday in Missouri.  One place on my list is the H&M out at Chesterfield Mall, the only local H&M store that has a kids’ department.  (Longtime readers may already know how passionate I am about their clothes for boys; if you didn’t see the first post, you can view it here.)  It turns out that Chesterfield Mall and West County Center have lined up a promotion that I might just take advantage of:  The Black Card.  It’s an ambiguous name for a straightforward deal. You sign up for the card with the concierge, and at the end of each shopping trip you bring your receipts back to be recorded.  When you hit $1,000 in purchases, you get a free subscription to St. Louis Magazine (the media sponsor).  At $2,000 you can choose between Swavorsky crystal earrings or a Dooney & Bourke tote, at $4,000 between tickets to Stages St. Louis or the Touhill Performing Arts Center.

The loyalty program started earlier this week and runs through Dec. 15, which means you can add your back-to-school AND holiday shopping.  Receipts dating back to May 1, 2008, can count toward the total too.  Sounds like my kind of math!  To read the fine print, click here.

This week I made the semi-annual trip out to Chesterfield Mall to buy spring and summer clothes for the boys. I visited exactly one store: H&M. I left with two huge bags (31 items, to be exact) and a mere $300 dent in my pocketbook. I felt so good about my thriftiness on a season’s worth of cute, trendy clothes that I celebrated with a $30 lunch at Annie Gunn’s. (A note to fellow recovering foodies: Morel mushrooms are on the menu!!)

dragon shirt Financially, it’s probably for the best that the only H&M kids’ department in the St. Louis area is a good 40-minute drive from our house now that I-64 is closed, Annie Gunn’s notwithstanding. I am a huge, huge fan of the Swedish discount clothing company and have been for about a decade, ever since we lived in Germany — which happens to be H&M’s biggest market. Here’s an example of how omnipresent it is there: In our “hometown” of Stuttgart, in the main shopping downtown shopping district alone, there were three H&M stores in walking distance of each other, two of which had extensive kids’ departments, including nursing booths, changing stations, etc. — and all of which had different selections. Pure nirvana.

My kids, without really knowing it, are huge fans of L.O.G.G., which complements the H&M brand in the kidswear section — for example, M. was over the moon about this new shirt yesterday.

snoopy shirtBeing the second son, S. gets stuck with a lot of hand-me-downs; this is one of his L.O.G.G. favorites, a hockey-playin’ Snoopy montage. Refreshingy, the chain doesn’t carry a lot of pop-culture-driven merchandise, but it does have a few cartoon characters scattered about. However, most of the graphics are generated by 60+ in-house designers. I wanted to get a nice picture of S. in the Snoopy sweatshirt to insert here, but while I was distracted in the kitchen, he was in the dining room raiding the cupcakes that were supposed to be for dessert … so I settled for a cute-but-naughty shot! Another piece of good news is that pretty much everything at H&M is easy to care for (machine wash warm, toss in the dryer) and more durable than one would expect for an average of $10 per item.

Of course, H&M has women’s and men’s clothes too, but you can get those at the Galleria or West County Center. That’s what I reminded my husband when he wondered why he didn’t rate one single item from my binge! And his cupcake got eaten too. Life is hard for dads sometimes!