Children's Place (NASDAQ:PLCE), once thought by many to be an also-ran in the hyper-competitive children's apparel business, showed that increasing optimism about the company's performance has been quite warranted, with its same-store sales for August coming in at 21% higher than a year ago. This at a time when other retailers are reporting fairly anemic back-to-school results is simply astounding.

I have a special place in my heart for Children's Place. Our four-year-old has an outfit that her aunt bought for her in 2001. We kept the receipt, but there won't be any chance of returns. It says: "Children's Place, World Trade Center, September 7, 2001." I get chills every time I think about it.

But in 2002 going into 2003, Children's Place seemed to be losing its footing. It's a very crowded space, with Gap (NYSE:GPS) Kids and Baby Gap, Target (NYSE:TGT), Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), even Swedish giant H&M (Pink Sheets: HMRZF.PK) providing an increasingly crowded field. I'm not much for fashion, so as in all things retail, I look to my guru, my bride.

She wasn't surprised in any way by the resurgence at Children's Place. She thought that much of their fashions from last year were pretty awful, particularly their (and I'm paraphrasing) "grafitti-themed stuff." She notes that Children's Place is her choice for fashionable rather than day-to-day clothes over Gap Kids and Baby Gap because those stores are much more expensive. She also notes that though she "loves H&M," she is sure when she goes to Children's Place that she'll be able to find what she's looking for, whereas at H&M it is a bit more of a crapshoot.

Her favorite thing that Children's Place does is to offer, say, discounts when you buy two tops, then coordinating so that matching pants are also on sale for two. What ends up happening is that parents end up buying both, even if they came in the store only looking for one. Brilliant.

My wife has a proven record of prescience on such things -- she introduced me to past Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK) before there was any fuss whatsoever over this company or its stock. But what I find most interesting about her comments was that the observations match perfectly with what has happened with the company and its re-emergence as a powerful player in its sector.

Peter Lynch famously notes that in the preponderance of families that the man of the household manages the investing, and as such he noted that he felt like he had an advantage just by virtue of listening to his wife, what she liked, and where she shopped. Children's Place has been just such a place where she noticed an improvement way before the market did. So perfect that in this case I didn't manage to listen.

Bill Mann owns shares in Hennes & Mauritz (H&M).