I have a pair of shoes that makes my heart swell with happiness whenever I look at them. It’s not just that they’re beautifully crafted black leather pumps; it’s also the memory of my blissful experience of walking into a gorgeous downtown Calgary store right after they’d been marked down. I can’t put them on without thinking, Score!
Shopping luck is great, but like any kind of luck, you can make your own. Chatelaine has rounded up three savvy shoppers who count on knowledge, tenacity and confidence to get the best buys. Whether you’re a label maven or a discount diva, the tricks and tips on these pages are sure to hone your hunting and gathering skills.
For Vancouver’s Lorelynn Hart, negotiation comes naturally. “It comes from my parents, who are from the Philippines,” says Lorelynn, who remembers shopping with her mother as a child and watching her ask for better deals wherever they went. Now, she does the same. For example, when she and her husband bought their first home last year, they found several pieces of furniture they wanted at one shop. “We told them we would buy all of the furniture if there was some type of discount,” says Lorelynn. “They agreed to 10 per cent and threw in free delivery. It never hurts to ask.”
Andrea Roitman, a Toronto prop stylist, knows where to find the best prices. “Clients often ask me for hard-to-find things, so I’m always on the lookout,” she says. One of her favourite places? Wal-Mart, which she loves for basic family and household items. “The quality may vary, but you can get the style you’d find from a famous label for next to nothing,” she says. “Wear a cheap tee with a good purse and they both look designer.”
Sarah Clark loves to shop, and she particularly likes getting a deal. A regional public relations co-ordinator for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in Vancouver, she has the opportunity to travel frequently, and some of her best finds have been made on her trips. “The two Armani skirts I bought for $10 each were definitely a high point,” she says.
End-of-season blowouts mean big savings. But in order to beat their competition, some stores offer markdowns and promotions at other times of the year as well. Use this guide so you’ll know what to buy when.
End-of-season (and off-season) bargains:
Clothes and shoes You’ll save the most from January to February and July to August. Anna Wallner, co-host and executive producer of W Network’s The Shopping Bags, tries to avoid hitting the stores until these deeply discounted times. “Stick to fashion magazines in the meantime so you know what’s hot,” she advises.
Running shoes Pick up a new pair in December or June, Wallner suggests, when stores are making room for next season’s styles.
Cars Shop for a new set of wheels in August and September. That’s when car manufacturers are revving up to introduce new models.
Real estate House hunt in the winter. According to Chris Johnston, principal and senior consultant of Canadian retail and marketing consulting firm JC Williams Group, most people prefer to move in the summer, so cold weather means less buying competition.
Travel Avoid peak seasons, such as March break, when prices climb. Instead, book off-season, paying special attention to all-inclusive deals to destinations such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic. And if you have the option of taking off at the last minute, shop the week before and you could see your savings double.
High-season (and pre-season) promotions:
Electronics Johnston says that fall and Christmas are the times to search for promotions on everything from CD players to plasma-screen TVs.
Gym memberships and equipment Exercise your saving savvy in January (holiday weight-gain season) and May (bikini preview season).
Furniture, bedding and appliances Retailers promote these goods in January and September, when people retreat into their homes.
Almost everything else Big stores such as Costco put seasonal merchandise on their sales floor earlier than other retailers, says Johnston. Think ahead and luck out on everything from Halloween costumes to high-quality patio furniture to canoes and tents.