If you’ve shopped at all in the baby boutiques, you have surely seen the Foreign Legion-type hats for babies by FlapHappy. Created by a mother whose baby had super-sensitive skin, these head coverings have flaps over the neck and at the sides to protect babies’ skin from the damaging rays of the sun.
When owner Laurie Snyder designed the first FlapHappy hat, she had no dreams of a manufacturing business. Soon, however, she branched out into children’s apparel, and last year totaled more than $1 million in sales.
And now FlapHappy has what almost every major manufacturer has these days--a factory outlet store. This is where the irregulars and close-outs are sold, at just about half the retail price.
Let’s start with the hats. There’s a flannel version for cool weather, called the Lindbergh Cap, which has a Velcro closure at the neck; the Baseball Cap; a reversible Surf Visor, and the Flapper Cap or headband, styled a la the Roaring ‘20s, with cuffs to cover little ears and a big bow tilted rakishly on the forehead. All these are sold at boutiques and department stores for $10 to $16, but at the factory store, irregulars are $3 to $15. The flaw may be a crooked seam or a slub (where a smidgen of lint or fabric gets caught in the weave).
Then there’s the cozy Flightsuit. This is an oversized unisex jumpsuit that coordinates with the hats. The Flightsuit has a snap front and crotch, kneepads and extra-long ribbing at the ankles and wrists to grow with the baby. These 100% cotton flannel outfits sell for $24.95 to $25.95 depending on the size. But at the factory outlet store seconds can be picked up for $16.95.
Roomy Bloomy Rompers are oversized bloomers made of 100% cotton sheeting and are more of a summer item, with snap crotch and front closure in prints featuring panda bears, a jungle, hearts, etc. They come in sizes 3 months to 24 months. These retail at $20 to $25, but the factory store sells them for $14.95.
Diaperaps, or cotton diaper covers, retail for $9.95. Slightly flawed, they’re $4.45. Bumpkins, all-in-one diapers and diaper covers, retail for $12 and are $7.95 at the factory store.
Other manufacturers also often supply the store with overruns, close-outs and irregulars, at slashed prices. New things come in all the time, so this is a good spot to make a regular stop.
FlapHappy has become a family business. Mom Laurie Snyder designs new lines and supervises the manufacturing. Grandma fills mail orders. Snyder’s sister is the sales manager. Her dad does the artwork for the catalogue. And guess who’s at home minding the kids? Mr. Mom, of course, and now he’s got two to handle. A nice success story, and a very nice little spot to save multi-bucks on a regular basis.
Factory Outlet Store, 13345 W. Washington Blvd. (at Walgrove Avenue), Los Angeles, (213) 574-7800. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Cash, check, Visa, MasterCard.
Geri Cook’s Bargains column runs every Thursday in Valley View.