Yeah! I am cheap! I am not even going to try to deny it. Now, combine being cheap and being a shopaholic, what you get? A bargain hunter.
When it comes to shopping, I was a late bloomer. The first time I really shop for myself I was 18. I succeeded at a very important exam back in high school and blew $200 my Dad gave me as reward. After that the epiphany came when I moved to Japan, where I sure did shop a lot. But I was always on the lookout for bargain stuff because I did want to save for other important things. And I have to say that all the time spend checking and searching for stores made me a great Bargain Hunter. Here are some of my strategies I would like to share:
- Ask the locals!
I move a lot, so whenever I am in a new city, I like to ask people around for a great shopping place. I am also an adventurer because I would not hesitate twice to get on my bicycle, the subway or my car to look for places. I also look at a place when I see the sign or the commercial on TV. That is how I discovered Ross. Now I know some people who do not check things out based on the location. But get a good grip of yourself and try it out. You may find more than you are looking for.
Another thing that is great is that if you see someone wearing something you like, go ask her where she got it. People are always pleased when you do it because for them it appears as though they have a great sense of style. Who knows! You may even end up getting a new friend.
- Window shop
After years of checking malls, I finally realized something: they all have the same stuff, except the label is different. They do follow the same trends so maybe except for the color and slight design alteration, they have the same items. The item you are looking for can be overpriced in one store and really affordable in another. Therefore, it is vital that you take your time to look around. Besides, no one says that you have to buy it right now...
- Never pay full price for something you like at department stores or malls
Why shop at a department store or the mall, when you can get the same stuff at bargain shops such as Marshalls, TJ Maxx or Ross? I have expressed my love for Ross many times on this blog. But let me do again one more time: I absolutely love Ross. Since I discovered the shop back in 2006, I have found great pieces there. And they have brands too. It is my one stop shopping place. I get everything I want there and even more. Let us just say that even when I do bother to go to the mall, and really find something I like,I just end up saying to myself: let me look for it at Ross. Now the only problem with places like Ross or Marshalls is that you have to hunt for what you want. Those places are not well organized like Macy's. Therefore you have to dig for that valuable item you so want.
- Do not overlook thrift stores
I always used thrift or recycling shops (like they call them in Japan). When I arrived there that was one of the 1st thing I was recommended to check. I went there to find some gear such as a bicycle and left with a cute dress, a sweater and mini skirt. I have been hooked ever since. One of my favorite pass time in Japan was to go to recycling shops and check their inventory. I particularly enjoy their accessories rack. They had so many vintage bags and jewelry. It was amazing. Here in Houston, my one stop thrift store is the Goodwill. I have tried others but still found them overpriced. Goodwill is wonderful. I even got my husband (who does not shop at all) hooked. I find everything there from designer shoes, to furniture, to children books. Last time I was there looking for coats, I found a New York and Company wool tan coat, and Esprit and London Fog trench coats.(I am already getting ready for Winter). You can even get a Vuitton bag but you have to be extremely lucky. In fact, last time I went there praying to get myself one but I arrived to find that someone had bitten me to the punch. A lady with a Vuitton Bag was standing at the register ready to checkout. Sad! My only beef with Goodwill is that they should have a system where they give you a discount for donating or something. I did donate items there many items and I would except some kind of waiver when I shop. But since it is for a good cause...
** Flea markets can also be a haven for that vintage stuff **
- Indulge yourself from time to time
Sometimes, you just want to please yourself. So go for that overpriced dress or shoes you have been ogling at Macy's. Back in Japan, I would indulge at Zara because it was the only store where I did not have to hunt for my size. Japanese people being on the petite/tiny side, it was a disappointment to shop at their stores for my 5.4, 145 pounds frame. But at Zara (and sometimes Gap), I could find great pants that fitted well (and that I still own after 8 years). My advice is that once in a while, do not look at the price tag. Just buy it for the hell of it. Who cares about the price, if it makes you happy. However be sure that you will get a great use out of it because for such a price tag, the item should not sit a collect dust in your closet. As for me, I have to be honest. I do not remember the last time I really indulge myself.
- If you sure do not need it, do not buy it!
I should follow this advice more often myself. I have a list of things I need (or maybe just want) but for some reasons, I cannot stick to it. I am always distracted and I end up getting something completely different just because it is pretty or the price is right. Like that $5.99 tie-dye tube maxi dress I found yesterday at Factory 2 U (another cheap place). I did not really need the dress because I have other dresses. And I have been looking for jumpsuits recently. However I could not let it slide, it was so pretty. My husband payed for it (thanks honey!) but still, I do not need it. I will greatly use it this Summer though.
- Check local business areas
Usually in a city, there are places where you can get sets of stores that can cater to your need. I discovered Harwin in Houston. I love Harwin (Hilcroft, Harwin) that I call my Little India because they have so many Indian stores. They also have plenty of shops with that goody Chinese knock offs. In fact, at Harwin you can get a knock off designer bag for nothing (if you are into that stuff). What I like in Harwin are the shoes. I often shop at Outfit Outlet because their shoes are cheap and they even have sales racks. I found shoes there for $7 in the past. Harwin also has a $9.99 shoe stores. Harwin is also the best location when it comes to accessories. They have several shoes that just sell fashion jewelry. I only go to Joa Accessories because they have everything that I need and they give you a card that you can use to get discounts for the next purchase. They also sell wholesale.
There you have it! Now go and shop your butt off!
Factory 2 U - www.factory2-u.com
Goodwill - goodwill.org
Joa Accessories - joaaccessory.com
Marshalls - marshalls.com
Outfit Outlet Inc
5901 Hillcroft Street
Houston, TX 77036-3332, United States
Ross - rossstores.com
Target - Target.com
TJ Maxx- tjMaxx.com
Walmart - Walmart.com