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November 17, 2009

Shopping strategies from a Soho pro

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I just had to post this comment in reaction to yesterday's post about Soho. Fortunately, there's more where it came from -- Cents in the City, a blog that could easily become my next obsession! The comment:
You think it's bad just wandering around Soho with the intention to shop, try working in Soho! Last week I was on my lunch break and heading over to my shoe guy in order to give some old heels an extended life. (How frugal, right?) I was walking down Lafayette and somewhere between Prince and Houston I noticed a sample sale.

Beautiful Cole Haan coats called me in for just a peek. (Just a peek since I should be buying Christmas presents and not spending on myself.) On a rack of $50 Oscar dresses I found one random Marchesa dress. Despite the warning signs that I had no idea how much it cost and it was a size smaller than I normally wear I figured, heck, I might as well try it on, As I was maneuvering the dress over my head, I was simultaneously Googling the original price on my cell. If it fit I would have two options; I could keep the dress to myself or attempt to sell on eBay and if it didn't sell I'm sure I'd find a use for it. If it didn’t fit, I would just continue on to my shoe guy.

Needless to say the dress fit. It is a little tight around my hips, not in unflattering way but more of a makes it hard to move way. It turns out the sample sale prices was $50. My Google search revealed it originally retailed for $600! Of course I had to buy. After modeling for various friends, the verdict was it's too pretty and I looked too amazing in it to sell.

Lunch hour shopping in Soho has helped my wardrobe, but it can be an unnecessary hit to the wallet.
So, if I may extract a few takeaway tips, for other frugal shoppers/askers out there:

1) Comparison shop like crazy, using Google or whatever other means at your disposal, to make sure you're getting the best price possible. (And hey, if you're not getting it, leverage that info, ask for a discount or price match.)

2) If you spot a good deal, even if it's not a good fit for you, turn around and make a buck off of it.

3) When you do find a good product, invest in repairs rather than tossing. New heels can make one $100 pair of boots outlast three pairs of crappy cheaper ones.

4) Look for opportunities everywhere, including on lunch breaks, errands, and when you least expect them. That's especially true for asking. The best experiences have cropped up when I wasn't looking for them.

5) Shopper's remorse works both ways. Yes you can buy some ridiculous plaid orange flannel pants thinking they're hipster cool and then kick yourself later. (That was, ahem, me at 15.) But the reverse is true. If you find a dress that's too hot to handle, $50 is a small price to pay compared to the years of therapy you'll need as you go over the missed opportunity with a coterie of experts.

Congrats on your stupendous purchase!
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