“Hi, my name is Helena and I’m an online shopaholic.”
“It’s been fourteen hours since my last purchase. I guess I’m not doing very well. I’ve tried to quit but a catalogue or coupon will come in the mail and my hands start to shake. I find I have to rush right to my iPad and before I even know what’s happening I’ve ordered a pair of shoes…”
This is my recurring nightmare. That I’m up in front of a group of haggard looking people clutching Saks and Neiman Marcus bags and Zappos’ boxes, describing my need to find the next retail fix. The thing is, I’m actually doing REALLY well. I don’t want to quit! I cannot believe some of the fabulous bargains I’ve snagged recently just by spending some time and energy trolling the internet. I will have a complete and, dare I say, snappy look for fall without ever leaving the second floor of my house. The world of online shopping has expanded to such an extent, there are few retailers you can’t access from the comfort of your lounge chair. Now, don’t get me wrong. This cannot ever replace the sheer pleasure of walking through a beautifully merchandised store. Of seeing the new collections displayed on mannequins and in groupings while smelling the heady air of perfume samples and cosmetic counters. My gosh, Nordstrom’s used to employ a pianist to play their Steinway in the middle of the selling floor just in case the fine merchandise and lovely restrooms weren’t enough to entice you to take a stroll around. No, there is absolutely nothing like the experience of walking into a store, of touching the garments and seeing the array up close and in person.
BUT. If you are like me and do not have ready access to good retail or are just too busy (who isn’t?) to devote several hours to shopping for great looks, then online is for you. Plus, it allows you to take advantage of sale incentives that might not be available in a given store on a given day.
Here’s an example of how I work it: There was a particular bracelet I had seen on the Banana Republic web site. But I did not want to pay $45 plus $7 shipping for a fashion jewelry item. Each day I checked in with the BR site, which, with an iPad or iPhone takes two seconds, and eventually there was an offer for 30% off all full price items. Woo-hoo! Here’s my big chance. Now if you have a BR “Luxe” card you’re entitled to free shipping all the time and you earn back “rewards” points every time you shop, which in my case is regularly. So let’s see; the bracelet was $45 plus $7 shipping, or $52. With my Luxe card I get free shipping and with the 30% off that made it $31.50. I had earned enough rewards points for a $30 rewards coupon. That made the total for my order $1.50. I paid a buck fifty for the bracelet! HOW CAN YOU BEAT THAT??!
Sometimes it’s just a matter of paying attention. Shopping on line for a dress for the opening of a new production, I scrolled through Saks.com until I found the perfect one. Saks Fifth Avenue often offers free shipping so there was no harm in ordering it and trying it on at home where it fit perfectly! It was a Pink Tartan (that’s the designer, not the fabric) on sale for 40% off because they only had one and it was a size 2. But after a few days I started thinking that the sale price was still kind of high so I sent it back. No sooner had I dropped the box off at my local post office when I was seized with remorse. It was so perfect for me, fit so well, so nicely made, blah blah and blah. So for the next couple of weeks everyday I searched the site for “Pink Tartan” until finally in the sale section it came back—my dress, size 2, now 70% off. I bought it again, of course. But for much less!
Okay, I know you’re tired of hearing my shopping exploits. Let’s just say that with a little sleuthing, coupon saving and catalogue perusing you can put together a wardrobe without spending a fortune. My main rules are: 1) don’t ever pay for shipping. 2) Don’t be afraid to return an item and try again for another size or color. Most online retailers make it really easy to return with prepaid labels or labels you can print out. 3) If at all possible, buy from vendors who provide free returns or from those who have a brick and mortar store you can get to if you need to return an item, and 3) always wait until there’s an offer for some percentage off, because there always will be.
Meantime I suppose I can get on the wagon. Does this one stop at the mall?