Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tips to Shop Savvy at the Mall & Retail Stores

I have to say that since I find such great deals on brand name clothing at the thrift store I have a hard time paying full price for anything so the mall isn't the first place I go for clothing or accessories, but that's not to say that great deals can't be found. With a little Savvy shopping you can great discounts on clothing, body care products, home accessories and more.

Timing is everything.
The best time to shop is always at the end of the season right before the store changes for the next season. Granted the selection isn't always that great but when you are saving anywhere from 50-75% off retail it's worth looking.

My husband started a new job in February and went from khaki-casual to dress pants and shirts, sometimes suits. While I have bought dress pants and suit jackets for my husband at the thrift store, we took a chance and headed to the mall. We ended up with 10 pairs of Kenneth Cole flat front dress pants for $110 from Macy's for my husband. Between the WAY after Christmas sale and a store coupon we got the pants that normally cost $65 a pair for just $11 each.

Try new departments and new brand names
Most of us have different departments, stores or brand names that we gravitate toward, savvy mall shopping is the time to branch out and try something new. If your style is Bohemian Chic and the idea of sifting through the "traditional" clothing from Ralph Lauren or walking the aisles of a store like Coldwater Creek gives you the heebie-jeebies, do it anyway! Even in the most conservative lines there will be a few pieces in each season that are a little more trendy or you might be able to find a great basic pant/skirt that you can add your funkiness to and make it your own.

If your style is Classic Conservative and think that the misses/juniors department or a store like Wet Seal/Forever 21/Rave is too trendy, look anyway. I have found the best plain t-shirts, tank tops and accessories in departments/stores like these, and for much less.

Don't be afraid to ask for a discount.
Shirt missing a button? A seam loose here or there? Ask for a discount.
Most sales associates have the power to grant at least 10-20% off. A missing button is an easy fix, even if you don't sew. If there is no extra button, you'll have to decide if buying more will be worth the effort or the cost. Seams are a little more work, but if you can sew, it may be an easy fix. Most stores will even honor a return if you get home and decide that it's not worth the effort.

Coupons, coupons, coupons (if you don't have one, ask).
Stores like Macy's and Kohl's will periodically send or print in the newspaper $10 off of a $25 purchase or a percentage off purchase. While it won't always work on final clearance items or special buys, it's worth checking. Just read the fine print. If you didn't bring a coupon, ask the associate if there is a coupon or special running and if there is, most will one out of their little drawer and help you out.

You can also sign up for a mailing list for free. Bath & Bodyworks and Victoria's Secret send out FREE coupons periodically through the year. Sometimes it's "with any purchase" and if so, I buy the cheapest thing I can find and use.

A recent trip to
the mall resulted in a free pair of underwear from VS, a free tube of Cashmere Hand Lotion and a free Peppermint Body Scrub from B&B (I did buy a $3.50 scented oil for our oil burner, but it was something I actually needed). I basically got $24 worth of items for free. These items are great to keep for stocking stuffers or teacher's gifts...well, not the underwear unless you're really, really close friends!

As a note, I don't have a credit card with either store. I'm not a big fan of getting a store credit card for just "10% off your first purchase" and an occasional coupon unless you're the type of person that frequents the store often and pays off the bill immediately. Savvy shopping means not getting into debt but making do with what you have - stylishly, of course!

Shop the Sale Racks and make note of Markdown Days
The first place I make a bee-line for in any store is the sale rack. If it's got a "take an additional % off" I sometimes run...not really...well, sometimes. I did find out through some internet searches that most Targets mark down children's clothing on Tuesday. If there is a particular piece of clothing I've got my eye on, I will wait till Tuesday to check if it's been marked-down. Last year I bought several pairs of Target's Yes jeans (regularly $24) for $3.24 a piece. Sales associates won't always share that information, but there are lots of bloggers out there who make it their mission to know what day items are marked down and are willing to share.

Price Adjustment
Did you know that some retailers will give you money back on a previous purchase? The rule of price adjustment rings true at several retailers. Gap, The Children's Place and many others will allow you one price adjustment usually within 1-2 weeks of purchase. All you need to do is bring in the receipt to the cashier. One of my friends recently told me how she had bought her twin boys matching costumes from the Gap. The next week when at the mall she noticed that they were 75% off. She presented the receipt to the cashier and received a credit on her card for the difference.

Patience and Realistic Consideration.
I'm not saying that you need to have patience to walk around trying on clothes for hours, though that will definitely help! I'm saying that most items we want will eventually go on sale, it's a matter of waiting it out. Granted that means that they may run out of the item, but then the question becomes "How badly do I need this item?" (notice I didn't write "How badly do I WANT this item?").

The truth is that for the most part we here in the western world have A LOT. I would venture to say that many of us have clothes in the closet that we rarely wear. Savvy shopping means self-examining and realistically thinking through what we already have and our shopping habits from the past. Am I someone who is a impulse buyer? If so, is this one of those "type" of things that I have bought before and not used?

If you go to the mall you will most likely find something you want to buy and find a good enough reason to justify buying it. Sometimes those reasons are indeed valid! I'm willing to spending a little extra on a wardrobe staple that I will wear for years versus a trendy/cute item for just a season or two. Weigh your reasoning and walk away if there's any doubt.
I have found in my life that no single piece of clothing is worth breaking the budget.

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