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Gurnee Mills: A Simon CenterI keep saying it, but I still can’t believe we have a kindergartner here this year. Essentially, if you’ve been reading THE ROCK FATHER for awhile, you’ve seen Addie growing up, and while last year we were shopping for Pre-K, this year it’s officially time for Back-to-School in preparation for “big girl” school – kindergarten. Gurnee Mills here in Lake County has always been a regular haunt for us, and this year we’ve teamed-up to show off some of the great fashions and supplies available at the largest value and outlet destination in Illinois (which is in the midst of a remodel and now boasts a fantastic “full-price” wing), by sharing our own Back-to-School shopping experience. This past week, my wife and I took the two girls (Little Finn is in on the action, too) to get decked out for Fall…

Giveaway: Win a $50 American Express Simon Gift Card from Gurnee Mills!

Macy’s, Carter’s, Skechers, Bath & Body Works, Disney Store – that’s where the bulk of our purchasing was done, but far from the only stores we shopped in this run. On the surface, you could say we did some damage, but with sales and coupons, we spent under $200, which I think is really great. I’ve looked for concise data on what families really spend on each kid for Back-to-School clothes, but the numbers are all over the place, with several reputable sources showing vastly different figures. My take: Pick a budget and stick with it.

If you’re looking for a place where you can get a lot for your money and finish your day relishing a feeling of shopping victory, Gurnee Mills fits the bill. Buy One, Get One 1/2 Off shoes at the Skechers Factory Outlet equalled two pairs of the coveted Twinkle Toes for just about $50. 

Gurnee Mills - #GurneeBTS

Disney Store touts “Magical Values Inside,” and that’s true – especially for the Disney Store Outlet, a place where we’re instantly recognized at this point (yes, you could say we’ve shopped there a few times in the past). $15 backpacks and $10 lunch totes are a big draw right now, but Addie was all about the fashion here, picking up a beautiful Rapunzel (TANGLED) dress that she’s already laid out as her “first day of school dress,” a DOC McSTUFFINS two-piece outfit, and for those chilly days coming up – a STAR WARS, R2-D2 hooded sweatshirt, which has been a pretty big hit online. Also, I couldn’t leave without picking up a little something for myself – a CARS “Piston Cup Champion” Shirt from CARS LAND (a suitable match for my CARS jacket).

Gurnee Mills #GurneeBTS

A stop at the play area (a must on a trip to Gurnee Mills) followed by a few more outfits scored at Carter’s (also the go-to place for socks, which were Buy One, Get One Free), a stop at the Information Desk to spin the prize wheel (a bonus to our Kidgits Club Membership) and an adorable FROZEN dress for Finn and “Epic Threads” rocker outfit from Macy’s for Addie, and it was about time to call it a day…

Gurnee Mills #GurneeBTS

But not before stopping at Bath & Body Works to get my PocketBac supply stocked-up. Do I look like the typical Bath & Body Works customer? No, but I love their Fall fragrances, and with all the running around and interaction with other parents and kids, their PocketBac hand sanitizer is a MUST. On-sale, 5 for $5. So far, the “Mr. Hedgehog” is my favorite of the new scents.

#GurneeBTS

After we came home, it was time for a Skype Fashion Show for Grandma, and a little bit of organizational separation for our affordable little haul. Four days until Kindergarten starts…

#GurneeBTS

But we still want to hit one more store at The Mills… stay tuned!

Giveaway: Win a $50 American Express Simon Gift Card from Gurnee Mills!