Sunday, December 24, 2006

After Christmas Sales!

Judy's Book, the deal site that posted Christmas Shipping & Return deals earlier this month, is now being helpful (as usual) with a list of After Christmas Sales.

Says the site:

"Stop buying the Sunday paper - Get all the details on After Christmas sales right here! We're updating this list as stores start posting their holiday sales information, so please keep checking back. We will be adding to this list every day."

You can find this continuously-updating chart of sales here. Feel free to put it on your blog and share it with friends!

Happy Shopping! And Happy Holidays to everyone, I'll see you here after Christmas, when we can all discuss what goodies we received!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Love. Want. Need. ~Gabriela~

I'll admit- I'm the kind of girl who, if you're my friend and wear my shoe size, might have to try on those adorable new shoes you just bought. And naturally, as I'm slipping my feet into your cute soles, I will artfully suggest that I might borrow them from time to time.

This exact instance is what led me to discover how unbelievably comfortable Bandolino's "Gabriela" leather pumps are. These shoes are great for work, but also stylish enough to be dressed up for evening. My friend had worn them previously and couldn't stop bragging about how great her feet felt, while ours were all smarting by the end of our evening out. And now I know she wasn't exaggerating at all.

This is a great product from a quality brand that I've always loved. The shoes are available on Zappos for an affordable $46.95 and come in Black or Medium Brown. Natural materials will keep these shoes holding together for a long time - a great investment, an amazing shoe.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

When a Shoe Tries Too Hard

A...a bow... and a strappy thing? Really? I am sorry, my friends, but I do not understand these shoes:

Can anyone tell me why they're $127.00?

I much prefer these from Payless, for only $17.99:

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Shipping & Return Guides

Just after I mentioned the ease of internet shopping in my previous post, Judy's Book came out with a guide that should be helpful to everyone this month.

Here is a chart of online shipping deals from popular stores. (Free Shipping, codes, Spend $x for Free Shipping, etc.)

Here is a chart of return policies for holiday gifts purchased online. (Return by x date, 30-day returns, Free Returns, etc.)

I think this was a great idea and very helpful! Thanks, Judy's Book.

The Real Deal

How to Find the Real Deal During the Holidays

During the holidays, shoppers are bombarded with discounts, reductions, free gifts with purchase, limited time only, steals, deals, and sales. In the craze of specials, it’s easy to lose sight of what qualifies as a good price on a necessary item. What is a bargain? How does a smart shopper remain objective under pressure; how do you conserve money when you need to buy the perfect gift?

Here are some guidelines I’ve gleaned from my favorite vice, shoe shopping:

1) Know what you want when you go in.
Having a solid, specific idea of what you’re looking for allows you to focus in on your gift. Every detail helps: what brands are preferred? How much are you willing to spend? Looking for shoes for a friend, I limited myself to under $100, black, no peep-toes, and work-appropriate- these were her prominent needs. Though I allowed myself wiggle room to fit her personality, having parameters really freed me to narrow the vast options of shoes available, and I wound up with three excellent choices for her, rather than hundreds.

2) Would I have paid full price for this item?
Often a deal seems to be, or is blatantly advertised as, “too good to miss.” These words are enticing, yet deceptive. An easy way to judge for yourself is to ask if you would have paid retail value for the item. If you didn’t want it twenty dollars ago, what’s the new appeal? The person you’re shopping for deserves a present bought for the thought, rather than the cost. If they didn’t need Tommy Hilfiger wedges at $68.99, they won’t love them just because they’re $28.99. If you wouldn’t even consider the item at full price, miss it.

3) Could I admit that this was on sale?
This guideline is also known as “the shame factor,” and it goes hand-in-hand with the previous rule. It’s very simple: when you hand the present over, if you can proudly boast to the recipient, “And they were only $19.99!” then it’s a good deal. Sometimes we don’t want to admit that we spent very little on a gift. If you would be mortified for your gal pal to find a hidden price sticker on the back of the box, then it’s possible you bought the item for the price sticker in the first place, rather than for the pal.

4) Apply the Love/Want/Need test.
The Love/Want/Need test is my personal measurement of how desirable a product is. Loving an item is the first step- for me, a shoe has to be eye-catching and unique, creating an urge to buy on top of an aesthetic appreciation. Next I decide if I want the shoe. Often I adore the concept of a shoe, but I know it isn’t my style or wouldn’t fit in my wardrobe. And third, it’s most rewarding to shop when you can convince yourself that you need the item. Is it practical? Do you have a specific outfit or event already in mind to put the shoe to use? If the item you’re considering passes all three of these tests for you or your friend, it’s guaranteed to be a great gift.

5) Avoid the best of the worst.
Sometimes we shoppers, considering ourselves thrifty, get bogged down in racks and racks of clearance or 75% off. After sorting through handfuls of clothes and shoes we would never buy, an amazing item turns up and you rush to the register! The problem is, after looking at so many unappealing things, the item we found wasn’t amazing, but merely the best in a batch of poor options. The way to avoid buying the best of the worst is to take the item, take a stroll to where the full-priced items are, and place your merchandise among the rest. Now, in comparison, are you still excited by it? If it’s still your favorite piece in a price-blind array, you’ve lucked out on a fantastic deal.

6) Know the product.
You can find out a lot about a sale by asking the right salesperson a few simple questions. How long will the discount apply? If it goes until March rather than ending at Christmas, it might be disguising itself as a holiday sale. Find out the item’s original cost- be wary of fake “actual value” numbers on tags- a salesperson can tell you if the shoe ever sold for $200, or if it’s been “marked down to $99” since it walked in the door. Also, find out if those shoes will be on sale again. In October I passed on a pair of boots because the salesperson admitted they’d be on sale again in January- for further discount.

7) Walk away.
This is wisdom imparted by my father, and I always shop by it. If the sale isn’t ending in 24 hours, look at the item carefully, and then walk away from it. Do other shopping and then come back, or better yet, go home and come back another day. If it’s something you really love, its allure will survive distance. Stores are usually happy to put items on hold for you. If the sale is ending shortly, you can buy the item but leave it in the bag, with the tags on, with the receipt. Wait a few days, and then take it out again and think about what you paid. You can always make a return. But when you can, it’s invaluably constructive to test yourself and leave it behind.

8) Use the internet.
I’m sure this is preaching to the choir, but the internet is the ultimate mall, with the best deals. I can search for the brand and model of the shoes I’m coveting or compare them to similar items by price, size, or color. During the holidays, stores can sell out of popular items, but it’s easy to find whatever you need online. It’s the most diverse source for every style and need; there’s something for everyone. And don’t worry: during the holidays, there’s more free shipping than you can shake a credit card at, so it’s no extra cost. Online stores are on top of getting your purchases shipped on time, and will even help you calculate a send-by date. No hassle, no leg work, no long lines. Just remember: all of the above guidelines still apply!

I hope you have Happy Holidays and a Smart Shopping New Year!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Eye of the Beholder

Remember back when I was jolted out of temporary blogger hibernation by the ugliest vest known to shopping? I cautioned you all to be wary of descriptive tags - if the item is marketed by its assets, and its assets are 'faux fur reversible vest', then you don't even really have to look at the piece itself, or see the price tag, to know better - move along, nothing to wear here.

Well, my friends, I have stumbled upon yet another fright in four words:

Sparkle. Pleated. Bubble. Skirt.

We know one of those four is okay on its own: skirt.

Otherwise, what a mess this is! It looks itchy- like that material you wore for your dance recital costume, or your grandmother's lamé shawl. And I know, I know, some of you like bubble skirts - every store has them, it means someone is buying them. And yes, gold has been very popular lately, and I like gold, but the expanse of sparkles, folds, and then those buttons? Too much. Even for a year of metallics; even for the holiday season. I know what this skirt reminds me of - it's like a potato sack trying really, really hard.

And yet? Some people, somewhere, are going to buy the rest of these out. And that's why I'm such a believer that beauty is in the eye of the beholder... because seriously, there is no other explanation. (There are various exceptions to eye-of-the-beholder justification, like Uggs and mini-skirts - I just don't want to see it this year, okay ladies? And we can put the leggings away for good. And the jumpers. I want to still believe in your good taste. Let's not make this into an intervention.)

It does, however, explain why this skirt is on sale at Bluefly - but it's still $99.99, which is waaaaay too much for a skirt that closely resembles one I used to have for my Barbie, and even that was back in the 80's. I don't care if it used to be $210.00, whoever dreamed of not only making this disaster, but then selling it at such a price is out of their mind (I'm looking at you, "Walter"). And if any of you even think twice about buying it, you are going to hand over your credit card and your keyboard, and you, me, and your closest friends and relatives are all going to sit down and have a little talk, mmk? Because we love you.