Paying full price has never really been part of my vocabulary. I believe I can thank my wonderful mom for that. We did not have a lot of money growing up, at least I don’t think we did. I remember getting stuff from a flea market. We typically shopped at outlet or t.j. maxx-type places (which isn’t too bad, i know!) and even then, it had to be marked down.
And then there was Hudson’s. The salvage center. A place for close-outs, damaged retail items, leftovers. I was SO embarrassed to go. Always afraid a classmate would see me (not thinking, my classmate is here, too so why should I be embarrassed??). As I got older and became more familiar with name brands, I realized what a true treasure hunt it could be!
It was at Hudson’s I got my first 100% cashmere turtleneck sweater from Lord and Taylor. I believe it was about $13. Hallelujah!! But..RIP cashmere sweater. It fell victim to moths and I had to get rid of it. Had I paid full price I would’ve had to have held a real funeral for that sweater just to grieve the loss and pain to my wallet!!
So, no. For me to pay full price, that’s a big deal! I remember the first top for which I paid full price. It was 2002 or 2003. I had my first real job out of college, making a whopping $20K as a weekend news producer. I was making the big bucks now, so I just HAD to splurge on this beautiful top from The Limited for about $50. I still have it. I can’t part with it. And yes, I’m showing it off!
When I wasn’t working in news, I had the fortune (or misfortune, depending on how you look at it) of working in retail. So I learned a few tips about when to shop for sales. I will share a few with you that you may or may not know.
1. Markdowns are often taken during the week. Often on Thursdays. Get to know an associate at your favorite store and ask when markdowns usually happen.
2. Look for big sales at the end of fiscal quarters (end of April, July, October, January). Many retailers are trying to make last minute dollars to end the quarter on a good note and will offer sale on sales.
3. In my experience, Black Friday is all hype when it comes to clothes shopping (electronics, home goods is another story). I believe the best time to shop is the day after Christmas. That is my absolute favorite day to shop. Yes, it’s a little crowded, but the sales can’t be beat and I typically have a little Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket (yes, I still get Christmas money and I am 33 years old. Thank you, Santa!)
4. Emails, emails, emails. When stores randomly offer sale on sale, they will typically send an email. I love and loathe this. Yes, I get a plethora of messages at 2am every day that I am typically deleting when I wake. But when you get that one that says, 40% off markdowns at J.Crew…JACKPOT!! It’s all worth it! Sign up for Emails at your favorite stores or favorite shopping center (malls and outlets usually have a list).
5. I am a little hesitant to encourage this one: A store credit card. ONLY get one if you promise yourself you will pay it IN FULL, EVERY MONTH! Interest rates on store cards are RIDICULOUS! I racked up some pretty healthy credit card debt in the past, so I was REALLY hesitant to open another card. I worked at Banana Republic for a year before I bit the bullet. I opened one there and have paid it off every month in full. No excuses. And the reward has been great! I chose Banana because I can use the card at Old Navy, Gap, Banana and Piperlime. The reward system is 5% back to use at any of the stores. I am good at saving my rewards. So, with rewards and a coupon I got for having a store card, I was able to get these $198 Michael Kors booties for $40.
6. This is more than just clothes shopping-related, but here’s a link to your guide to shopping for just about anything throughout the year: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-best-time-of-year-to-buy-everything-2013-2?op=1
If you have any smart shopping tips, please feel free to share!! I’d LOVE to learn more about savvy shopping!
-by Vanessa Culpepper