How to be a better shopper

If you think this post is about saving money, it’s not. We’re not talking bargain hunting here, (partly because I have choice words for the people who get a great deal on a quality piece of clothing made with dignity and turn their noses up at it).  I’m talking about how to buy well and in a way that makes the most of the experience.

First off, even when you have a vague idea of what you’re looking for, tell the sales associate when they greet you and ask if they can help you. I know, I know. You think if you do that they’ll follow you around and try to oversell to you, and you’ll end up with things you didn’t want. You picture yourself leaving multiple bags full of jewelry and scarves and pants you’ll never wear again. This is usually not the case. In most stores, employees have other responsibilities, and while the customer comes first, they won’t be your shadow. They do want you to buy, so they’ll try to show you things they think you’d like. Most likely, they’ll point out a few things that might fit your bill, start a dressing room for you, and let you roam free while checking in every now and then.

This assumes that the salespeople know their product and are helpful. If they don’t, accepting help won’t really be helpful, but on the off-chance that they were not hired erroneously and were trained well, talk to them so they can point you to things you might otherwise overlook (i.e. things that look horrid on hangers but great on people, product that is hiding because it’s too crowded for it to be displayed well, something that’s folded that you wouldn’t have picked up otherwise, etc).

Secondly, the way you conduct yourself in the fitting room has a direct relationship with the way we will perceive your character. You can try on as many things as you like, but if the associate brings you everything you ask for and you leave it on the floor when you exit, that’s going to reflect badly on you and make it difficult for those of us who clean out those dressing rooms to want to serve you well. I know what you’re saying, But it’s your job! Yes, it is my job. And I love to do my job well. I take pride in it. But I’m going to be putting your clothes back whether you leave them inside out on the floor (or inside out on the hanger… still not helpful!) or hung decently well. Common courtesy to your fellow (wo)man dictates that you think about the person who will have to clean up after you and be kind. Trust me, if you leave your fitting room with at least attempts at cleanliness, we will think much more highly of you. You never know how that will benefit that salesperson… or even you.

Thirdly, there is always a back room. Now, this doesn’t always mean there is more stock of what’s on the floor, but it means that it’s always worth asking. This is just using your resources, people. We salespeople are here to assist you in buying from us. We have ways of getting what you need that you may have no idea about.

Fourth, wash your clothes before you wear them.  I want to repeat that with a megaphone from the top of a high building. WASH THEM. I know sometimes you grab a shirt from the bottom of a beautiful pile that obviously was just placed on the floor after being manufactured. You think it’s never even been touched, but trust me, it has. It has not only been touched, but tried on – sometimes many times in one day. It has been handled by salespeople and small children and people coming into the store who haven’t washed their hands or bodies recently. But that just means I (and other people like me) am doing my job well. I can fold a pile of shirts so it looks like it’s never been touched, but oh, has it ever. You are (almost) never the first person to try on a piece of clothing. It’s fine when you’re just trying, but when it becomes yours, please wash it. Set my germaphobic mind at ease and promise, okay?

I feel like I shouldn’t have to add this last point, partly because I know my audience here, and they are all kind people. I do also know that sometimes shoppers can be a bit cold to the people working retail, even when they are perfectly nice people. But, I’m going to say it anyways, be nice. You know what that looks like. It doesn’t mean you have to inquire about my life or my day. It just means being pleasant, patient, and listening when I try to tell you that I can save you more money if you open a credit card – even if you vehemently do not want one.

Looking forward to seeing you all put this into practice next weekend.

Books and fireworks.

I was going to be self-disciplined when we went to Barnes & Noble downtown tonight, and I succeeded… at first.

But then I saw the Bargain Books section, and who isn’t going to be drawn to that?  I mean, you can’t lose by looking, right?  So, I wandered over, saw a few things I didn’t need… Saw a few things I could definitely love forever.  Like a collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writings, two novels and a bunch of short stories – all for $7.68 (plus tax, since apparently books aren’t considered a necessity).  I picked up the complete works of Shakespeare, too, but I put it back.  Because Fitzgerald beats Shakespeare today.

I started breathing kind of funny as soon as I saw the shelf with these collections of classic writers’ works.  They were hardcover with dust jackets and LOTS of pages of words.  And the price tag was less than $10, which is always cause for slight hyperventilation.

If you ever want to buy me something, buy me a classic book.

After we browsed the bookstore, we grabbed sweatshirts (and dropped FSF off) at the car and headed to the river to watch fireworks.  We had a perfect seat, elevated above the water, right at the edge of the hill, and directly facing the launch site.  They were some of the best fireworks I’ve ever seen.

I always think it’s the grand finale way before it happens.  They’ll shoot off a few in quicker succession than before, and I’ll wonder if this is the part we’ve been waiting for, but then it isn’t.  That usually happens a few times before the real deal.

Really, it’d be a lame finale if my impressions were correct.

But then the real finale comes, and it’s so much more striking than any other part of the show.  And I always wonder how I could have thought that anything else was last hurrah.  It leaves me speechless, takes my breath away.  It stands out, high above the rest of the show, with a grandness that can’t be denied.

So much to learn from fireworks.

An encounter with lovely.

The list of things you can buy in order to be fully prepared for college never ends.  I feel like I’ve spent the last week spending money, yet I still have more to buy.  Hot pot, water pitcher, jeans, command hooks, twinkle lights, ribbon, etc.

And if you google “what to bring to college”, you get even more ideas.

The list truly never ends.

So, I went shopping today for clothes for school.  I saved over $100 – never mind how much I spent, but it was less than I saved. There were moments of sadness, when I realized that the jeans that I tried on, loved, and would have spent the rest of my life with were not going to be friends with my wallet.  And when I realized that Anthropologie only carries things I can afford in sizes that aren’t mine.

Oh, but Anthropologie.  You certainly can’t buy happiness, but sometimes the process of buying little happy things can bring you a little bit of it.  Stores like Anthro are why it’s called “retail therapy”.

I’ll set the scene for you.

Sun is shining brightly on this crisp summer afternoon.  The air is chillier than usual for an August day, but that hasn’t stopped us from enjoying it thoroughly.  The clothes I bought at Ann Taylor Loft are in a big bag in the car, and I’ve just had a sad goodbye with the jeans that couldn’t come home with me.  But there’s a store down the way that beckons.  Mom says, I’ll meet you there, just let me stop in here for a bit.  She goes into the next store, and suddenly my original destination has no pull on me.  Because, directly in front of me, is a thing of beauty.


I see the ridiculously wonderful and expensive dresses and accessories in the window, and the blue doors call my name.  As soon as I step inside, I have this feeling that something in here is mine.  As though it was made with me in mind and put on major clearance with my name stamped on it.  Now, only to find what it is.

I soon realize that it’s not clothing due to that small price issue.  So I gently pick up fully priced journals, my heart skipping a beat at the beauty of them.  Such perfect colors!  Such creativity! Oh, the things I could write in them! (In all reality, I bet the other customers wanted to know what was wrong with me)

After skimming racks and almost losing hope, I see the alcove with clearance dishes and books.

And it’s love at first sight.  With a coffee cup and a book about how to decorate your house with books.

Brimming with happiness, I hurriedly brought my purchases to the front, hoping to keep myself from spending more money.  I almost laughed with giddiness as the cashier carefully wrapped each item for me and placed it in the classiest shopping bag…

It may seem silly, but at least I get pleasure out of the simple things in life.