Atmosphere makes a huge impression on shoppers. I was reminded of that again today at Children's Place at  Ridgedale Center. Truth be told, I'm not a big CP shopper. But hats that stay on a fussy 1-year-old's head are not easy to find and so I was venturing beyond my usual spots. The Children's Place at Ridgedale was completely redone late last year and is soooo much more inviting. It's bright, colorful, modern and open, yet compartmentalized (along the lines of the new Gap floor plan) into manageable vignettes. Amazing how much better the clothes looked displayed in this environment!
Locally, The Children's  Place at Arbor Lakes has received the same makeover. We can only hope the others get upgraded soon – I might have to make this one of my regular stops.
(P.S.: Struck out on the hat at CP – they didn't have any that clasped beneath the chin. But the ones they did have were cool – not too cutesy – and just $6. I found the winner at Gymboree on sale for $9.99.)

You don't have to wonder where the best deals will be on Dec. 26. Many retailers are already posting them online Ann Taylor, Brookstone, Eddie Bauer and Gymboree are among those jumping into post-Christmas mode.Ikea will have a big post-Christmas sale in stores only, but you can preview the discounts now. For an up-to-date list of after-Christmas deals at chain stores that will start before Christmas, visit Dealnews.com. And for sales at Twin Cities boutiques, click AliShops.com's Sales/Specials.

Janieandjack
I was underwhelmed by Janie and Jack, Gymboree’s higher end boutique, which opened at Mall of America today (first floor, south side – just down the hall from Gymboree). The clothes look like Gymboree, but more subdued and more expensive. If I wanted to spend $40 on a pair of toddler boy pants or a little sun dress, I’d rather shop an independent children’s boutique with more unique brands. I’m more anxious for Gymboree to open its other new concept here: Crazy 8, which is supposed to compete with Old Navy, selling baby and children’s clothes that are both style and price conscious. Enough with the giraffe prints and $30 onesies.