Sunday, March 25, 2007

Mrs. Piston Engine's Internet Bargain Tip

There is a reason my friend the Sasquatch calls me Mrs. Piston Engine. It's a Monty Python reference, and he really does mean it as a compliment. (I think.) Being raised in a family of nine children means you learn to find the serious bargains at an early age. There are hunters, there are gatherers, and there are those who can make a coupon and an early bird discount into the sale of the century.

I fall into the third category, and thank god for that these days.

Bargain hunters can rarely be pigeonholed into "brand loyalty" situations. You generally takes what you can gets. That's why I was buying discount lightbulbs and a new bathroom trash basket at the Rockville Dollar Tree on Saturday. (And, damn, that store is scary - it smells like an armpit, the floor is strewn with tiny bits of detritus from poorly made junk and food containers torn open by moms who let their toddlers graze on packages of the store's cut-rate snacks as they cruise the aisles, and the temperature goes up about ten degrees when you walk inside.) I am a discerning bargain hunter, though. I'm not buying crap just because it's cheap. The lightbulbs were Sunbeam brand, UL approved, the whole nine yards. Perfectly fine. The trash basket - which came in a variety of colors: blue, blue, or blue - is just as nice as any you'd pay $15 for at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. But holy macaroni, some of the stuff in that store? YUCK. I felt like my body was crawling with something when I left, and my hands itched like nobody's business. Dollar stores are a great concept if you're in a total financial bind, like me, but if you can avoid them, for the most part, I would highly recommend staying away. At least from this one. It may be a bigger Hellmouth than the White Flint 7-11.

Leaving the Crap For A Buck store, I felt a breeze. And yet, it was not breezy outside. I realized my much loved and much worn jeans were giving up the ghost, in a most unflattering way. Yikes! I headed home to ponder my denim dilemma.

Like I said, bargain hunters can't be choosers, for the most part. But there are some times when you are stuck. There are limited clothing choices in my size range. I can't exactly run down to The Gap or Old Navy and retrieve a new pair of denim-y goodness. There is one, count 'em, one pair of jeans I'm comfy in and that actually fit me in a way that I can sit, stand, or function at all. And, I am a jeans kind of girl. Black trousers at work, sure, but just about any other time, you'll find me in jeans. Happy as a clam. I know what works, and I'm sticking with it.

I think, once you get beyond the small, but vocal and Internet/TV whorish fashionista layer of society, most women like to stick with What Works Best for them. It's not a matter of lacking a spirit of adventure - I think it's more a matter of not having time/money/desire to screw around with a lot of stuff that won't work and, therefore, will be money down the tubes. Or maybe that's just me. I'm fairly practical that way. I leave my lack of practicality for things like CDs purchased for the only good song on it. Thank god for iTunes - cutting the chaff from the wheat. iTunes could have saved me really big bucks back in the day, I tell ya. Right now, I'm culling my CD collection, trying to part with stuff I haven't listened to in ages and/or I've loaded onto the computer. My goal is to send a big box off to Second Spin for credit. Only problem is, my taste in music hasn't always been the finest. Many of my junk CDs are just that - junk. Worth only $0.25 in trade. Which means, it would cost more to mail it to Second Spin than it's worth. Who would have guessed that OMC's fabulous (sputter, cough) CD debut wouldn't be an equity builder?

Oh wait - most of the world guessed that. I was the idiot that bought it. How bizarre, how bizarre, indeed. Well, maybe someone on eBay or is dying for some rap-tastic Kiwi pop. Who knows? I guess I have to start two piles - the Second Spin guys someone sane might want to listen to, and the eBay crap pile for people too stupid to realize they could buy that one good song on iTunes.

But, as often happens here at the Church, I digress...

So, here I was on Saturday, driving home with the wind beneath my cheeks, hoping to get into the apartment without any of my neighbors seeing my new unintentionally thrashed fashion look. I knew Sunday was "customer appreciation day" at the fat women's clothing store on the Pike. However, I also knew they rarely carried enough jeans in my apparently popular fat size for there to be any on hand. (I called. I was right.) But they have an online presence. And here's where my advice gets good for peeps of any size.

Do you shop anywhere frequently enough that getting a discount card with them makes sense? I pay a tiny fee each year to have a 10% discount card at this particular store. (Since it's the only brick and mortar store where I can buy clothes locally, it makes sense.) The discount is good online, too. The customer appreciation sale was valid online, too - 40% storewide. Add to that my card discount for a half-price experience. But the savvy Internet bargain hunter doesn't stop there. If I really need something (and these days, I really need to have something to go out and buy it, frankly) I go to Google and type in the name of the retailer followed by the words "promo code" or "coupon code." Sometimes I do both. In most cases, I can find addition savings that way - codes for free shipping or a certain amount of dollars off.

In this case, I found a great coupon for $20 off. The jeans at half-price were $18. I ended up getting a second pair of jeans and two pairs of socks for free. Can I get an amen for that, kids?

See, sometimes, the Internet can be a tool of good. And, dear god, having my ass covered in public is definitely a Good Thing.

Yours in full denim coverage,



Janet Kincaid said...

Wow! I worship at your feet, Merujo. You are truly the shopping goddess! Outstanding!





Cyn said...

Amen, sister, amen!

I am all too familiar with "How Bizarre..." -- when my oldest was a toddler, I found I could keep her occupied with VH1, and that particular video was in heavy rotation and became one of her favorites. Much to my brain's chagrin.

In fact, I put together a whole VHS tape for her of one-hit wonder videos taped from VH1 circa 1997 that she would watch over and over again (AKA the babysitter tape.) Most were age-appropriate or went over her head - I figured she didn't really care why Toni Braxton's heart needed un-breaking...but I have to confess that she also liked that horrible Meredith I-forget-her-last-name "B*tch" song -- and me, bad mommy, not only let her watch it, but I put it on her tape -- I did at least turn the sound down every time the B word was sung...well, at least I tried to...

Anyway -- coming back from my tangent, I'm very pleased at your cleverness in denim-procurement.

Rock on!