Friday, June 8, 2012

For the Broke

It was brought to my attention that some of my developed shopping habits aren't instinctual for everyone. I wasn't always a cheapskate, but hey, when times call.

I'm not cheap in the literal sense. Especially since I started working, I've been determined to exercise some restraint and actually build a wardrobe that will last rather than falling victim to every trend that inevitably ends up in some poor neglected bargain basement retailer. BUT I need a good deal 'cause I got no monies.

I'm no expert but I'm resourceful, and I can share a few things I do to avoid paying full price for something I have to, have to, have to -- this is important -- have to have. Yes, cheapskate.

1. I'm not going to say the obvious and say wait for off-season sales, but in the event you do buy something and it gets marked down right afterward (usually within a week), you can ask for an adjustment. I've saved $50+ on one purchase doing this.

2. Usually, most retailers with websites that have e-commerce capabilities also have an email newsletter. Sign up and say hello to 10% off an entire purchase (usually) plus free shipping if they don't already offer that. Plus, you'll get notices on future percent-off promotions.

3. Pick up the damaged good. No, not the irreparably damaged item, but if there's a snag or something else you notice (a small stain, perhaps) that's easily fixed, you can ask for a discount. You'll receive something like 10% to 20% (unlikely) off, but it does mean the item is no longer returnable. Shoes is where this is most useful. If they're a display pair and you're at a retailer with a decent customer service policy (think Nordstroms and up and up), you'll get a discount and shoes scuffs aren't exactly deal-breakers.

4. Purchase store credit from third party sites. Several websites offer store credit at online retailers for half the price. For example, $50 for $100 in store credit. Refinery29 Reserve has exposed me to some pretty cool and obscure online shops. Bloomspot is either a hit or miss, but right now, for example, they're doing the half-off store credit deal for Hampden Clothing.

5. Avoid big names like Shopbop, Bluefly or Revolve because everyone is scrambling to get something before it's sold out. And if you're waiting for that blouse to go on sale, you're not going to get it. Indie-brand name shops to avoid ShopNastyGal, 80's Purple, Pixie Market, Singer22. Generally, I avoid Asos, too, but the exception for Asos is when they have one of their extremely common percent-off flash sales. Like them on Facebook. The lesson here is: big box shops -- good for window-shopping, never for purchasing. Find what you like and....

6. Do yo research. If you don't want to pay for a full-priced item, then you have to put in some elbow grease. Or finger grease. Google that ish (or Bing or whatever), and when I say "Google" I mean beyond the first link under the sponsored links. In fact, I mean beyond the first page. And the first 10 pages. We all should've learned how to skim in high school. And Google Images can help weed out the unrelated content. Almost always I find the item at a lower retail price (like a pretty significant number) at a site I've never heard of before. Just make sure it's legit. If it smells fishy, it's a dead fish. No one wants to end up with a dead fish.

7. Lastly, you can go hunting. As in on eBay, Bonanza or other vintage online shops. There are lots of little blog sites devoted to aggregating and selling second-hand clothing via Internet and bloggers who sell clothes they're not into anymore (like this one or this one). I also really like Threadflip and I-Ella. And if you're doing eBay, make sure that seller has a flawless record. Maybe this one is only applicable to my neurotic self. (i.e. Looking for Alexander Wang buffalo plaid cardigan for, like, years. Years.)

Keep in mind these things only apply when you already have in mind what you want while searching. This is not impulse shopping.

It's clearly Friday afternoon.

(images c/o Pinterest and The Coveteur)

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