Monday, April 27, 2009

A baby registry primer

In this week’s baby bargainista column, Rebecca Atkinson shares all the nitty gritty details of setting up a baby registry. (Warning: This is a long post but worth the effort.)

Depending on your cultural beliefs, you may decide to create a baby registry so friends and family can purchase things you really need for the baby’s impending arrival. Clothes tend not to get included because everyone buys cute baby outfits. But where is the best place to register?

There are many stores and specialty boutiques where you can register, especially in large communities like Toronto. However, if you have people spread out across the country, like we do, chances are you’ll need to go for one of the big three department stores like The Bay, Babies R US or Sears because they have locations nationally in case some are not comfortable shopping online. We obviously did not want to register at all three stores, so we did some research to try and figure out which store was the best for our needs.

We’re busy parents-to-be (who’s not, I know?) – with a large, spread-out family – who purchase as much as we can online after an initial in-store visit to see/touch/feel items for ourselves.

The Bay
Registry completion program: While the materials and consultant we spoke with at the baby show didn’t give specific information, they did indicate that there is special pricing for anything not purchased on your registry after the baby is born.
Provides registry checklists, which helps for determining number of gifts to put on registry.
Incentive offer at baby show
Reasonable prices

Creating the registry online only allows you to choose from only two stores where you can go in and select gifts.
Can’t create your entire registry online, only the initial registrant information
Can only add or delete in store, or by phoning/emailing or faxing a gift registry consultant.
Selection varies store to store, and is very limited.

Babies R Us
Depending on the size of the Toys R Us, the Baby section is almost large enough to be its own store.
Selection is great.
Contests to win gift certificate.
Bag of goodies for registering.
Can create entire registry online.
Can add or delete items online without having to go into a store.
Clearly show you what’s available to be purchased online or required to be purchased at store.
Reasonable prices (and often lowest of all three stores on comparable items/brands.)
Tools available online to help you start and complete the registry (popular items, buying guides and checklists.)

No gift registry completion program.
Bag of goodies varies widely by store and is some what of a lottery.
Overall sense the company knows it’s got a stronghold on the baby market, so no real desire to woo consumers.

Completion program.
Waiting Game Club.
Add or delete items online (requires knowledge of SKU numbers in most cases.)
Free Ship-a-gift service for out-of-town family who use the catalogue (and phone) to order your gift. Gifts will be shipped to your local store without additional cost to your family.
Like the other registries, Sears has checklists available to help you create your registry. In addition, there are some helpful hints (for first-timers) about things to think about when choosing particular items like car seats or change pads.

Adding items isn’t the easiest, as you need to add by product number.
Prices were generally more expensive than the Bay or Babies R Us.
In-store selection small and varies widely by store.
Doesn’t actively promote the Completion program, only told in-store of its availability.

Based on the cost of items and lack of selection, we immediately narrowed down our options to the Bay and Babies R Us. Based on the completion program and that we received a $50 gift card for pre-registering at the baby show, we initially decided to go with the Bay.

However, things did not go according to plan. Arriving at the Bay a few days later to complete the rest of our registry (which would also activate the gift card), we were told that somehow we weren’t “in the system.” Even though I had all the paperwork from the show, they couldn’t start a new registry for us, or our gift card wouldn’t be valid. We were given two options:

1. Wait for them to call us and book an appointment, which they would do if they hadn’t heard from us in a few weeks; or,
2. Come back at another time to see if we were in the system.

Having already had two bad experiences with the Bay in the last couple of years (many of our wedding registry items took over six months to receive, and an online order that was finally deemed as “lost” and refunded three months after placing it), my husband and I decided this was the last straw. No matter how many incentives you offer, it doesn’t make up for horrible customer service. It’s now been four weeks since “pre-registering” and I still haven’t received a call from the Bay. And guess what? Our incentive gift card expires in two weeks. How many bets they call me minutes after the card expires?

Our final choice by process of elimination? Babies R Us. And you know what? Registering was a breeze. We had fun looking at all the items in store and then adding/updating our registry online with other products. The bag of goodies we received at our store was small, but really nice and personal. Among the coupons and some samples, it included a coupon for a free handprint plaque (complete with our baby’s prints), courtesy of our local store.

Of course what worked for me, may not be right for you. What the moral of this post comes down to is to determine what works best for you (can you go local, or do you need to go national for example) and what types of offers/incentives or bargains will help you decide where to register if you choose to do so.


  1. good post! i enjoy to read this one.

  2. Great Post. Enjoyed seeing someone else's thoughts about baby registry.


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