SHOPPING For The Best Deal

I recently went shopping with a friend of mine. He is as frugal minded as I am. So it was an amazingly fun day of going to different consignment stores (some of which I had never heard of and others that I had).

I have to sort of admit that the whole idea of consignment shopping is new to me. I usually have a few friends who give me their old clothes or just go to my favorite consignment store, Plum Good in Stapleton area. It feels more like a boutique than it does Good Will. Plus, I love their feature of a wish list. I can tell them what items/brands I’m looking for and in what size – then they send me an email when something like that comes in. Brilliant! And since they are on the other side of town for me, I know that it will not be a wasted trip. Other than Plum Consignment and the couple of times I’ve shopped at online consignment store like Thredup.com, I usually shop at stores like Marshall’s (my favorite), TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack.

My friend, Paul suggested that we go to TJMaxx to get coffee. He said there are great deals there on some different (gourmet) food stuff. So we headed over to TJMaxx. The store did not disappoint, they had some really yummy sounding and smelling coffee (Chocolate Decadence, Triple Truffle Carmel Happiness). The coffee was just $4.99/bag. This is about half the price I might pay for fancy coffee in a regular grocery store. But we had some other shopping to do – so we chose to leave the bags of coffee there on the shelf and head over to Cost Plus World Market. Why wait in line for one measly bag of coffee? Why actually swipe my debit card for just one thing? Cost Plus World Market had amazing coffee. But then we realized that we didn’t know what we were going to do for dinner – so once again we dumped the coffee there too and headed to Sprouts Market (in the same parking lot). Why wait in line for one bag of coffee and just save $3 when we can get everything we need at ONE store. At Sprouts, the coffee has gotten more expensive at $7.99 for fancy flavored coffees…but we could buy all the things for dinner in one location. We had decided to make hamburgers for dinner…only Sprouts didn’t have hamburger buns. So…once again we discarded the bag of coffee (and all the other stuff we had collected into the basket) and headed off to King Soopers. Kings had all of it (buns too) and the coffee was $9.99. But we only had to swipe our debit card one time!

We could have saved money by buying the coffee at TJ Maxx when we were there. We could have saved money on all the gas that we spent going round and round. We could have saved time by just going to King Soopers in the first place. But sometimes saving money or saving time isn’t what it’s all about. Sometimes it is all about the journey with a friend.

What do you shop for in consignment stores? Do you want to make sure your trip is fruitful? What do you look for in discount stores like Marshall’s? What is your best find? Is it about the find or the shopping experience?

Souvenirs From Business Trips

I travel quite a bit in my business. I am constantly challenged with the questions of do I get a souvenir for myself? For my kids? If so, what? I also am constantly on a budget – so getting some big elaborate thing is really out of the question. And I have two kids – so when I get one something I have to get something for the other one as well.

Several years back, my daughter was really into snow globes. So I purchased her a small snow globe. She loved it! So I started buying her the same thing. They are usually just around $5 to $7 so nothing that will break the bank. However, I found out the hard way that some security areas at airports will not allow you through their gates with one. Despite them being small. They are liquid (and apparently against TSA regulations (one agent who made me throw it away also said that the glass could be broken and used for a weapon). So I usually have to buy them at the airport. Which makes shopping pretty easy for me for her. Although the more that I have purchased, the more I realize that they are sort of similar. For example, I went to Orlando and purchased one that had a palm tree inside and there was a tag on the outside that said “Florida” but when I went to San Diego. There was the same palm tree just the outside of it said “San Diego.” Since my shopping options are limited to whatever is at the airport store…all I can say is good thing she likes palm trees.

Florida Snow Globe

Florida Snow Globe

My son on the other hand, has grown a lot in the past few years that I have been traveling. At first, I would get him a small stuffed animal. He was happy with that until he hit about 11 years old. Then I realized that it was sort of a waste of money. He would toss it up on his desk in his room (which is essentially a pile of junk) and never really look at it again. So I started buying him TShirts (he’s a sports fan – so the local team seemed the way to go). But then he would grow out of them and the price was certainly inequitable to what my daughter was getting (and she noticed and voiced it quite loudly). So when a friend suggested Christmas ornaments I did that. He seemed less than happy when I brought him an ornament in October from Mexico. (I was certainly not bringing back tequila to a 15 year old!)

As for me? I sometimes get myself something too. I started collecting either a Christmas ornament (which are sometimes difficult to find) or I recently found Alex and Ani bracelets that have charms of the cities (although they are certainly not everywhere – and sometimes difficult to find – I had to SHIP the San Francisco one – despite being in a store in San Francisco).

Alex and Ani

What is your favorite souvenir? How much did it cost? Do you bring things for your kids when you travel for work? Does TSA let you through with your treasures?

What’s All The Hype Over Stores

I am always a bit skeptical when it comes to places and things that seem to capture the attention of the masses. Living in Denver, we are a community of transplants (all except me apparently) who celebrate when big stores that have graced the streets of L.A. and New York (perhaps even Chicago) for years. There were lines for weeks around Krispy Kreme for it’s arrival in Denver several years ago, then there was the three day camp outs for the behemoth IKEA’s arrival and the lines around H&M stores. I’m not certain if these people are lining up because they are really excited to see that store have it’s first (or second, or third) location here or if they are hoping to get the freebies and deals that are always at any Grand Opening.

I usually try to get to the store about a week or two later – when all the lines and awful parking lot issues are gone – where I can really see why everyone was so excited for this store. Here are a few of my observations:

  • Krispy Kreme – These donuts are ok. Why is everyone so excited? I’m not sure. Donuts aren’t good for you (healthy Colorado – ha!). They are not particularly priced any different from a dozen at King Soopers. The only thing good at a Krispy Kreme is their original glazed donut. Boring! I think I’ll stick with Lamar’s where I find almost every donut delicious.
  • IKEA – This store is so big it is easy to become overwhelmed. I love the food in a store (and so do my kids). It’s cheap (HURRAY). Their stuff is decent quality for what it is and the price you pay. I will go back to this store again – especially at Christmas time for my Secret Santa gifts.
  • H&M – Not all that different from Forever 21 and Love Couture. Prices pretty similar. Good fill in stuff. Terribly trendy. Great for my 12 year old daughter that will grow out of the stuff before it has a chance to not be in fashion anymore, but definately NOT for the 40+ mom set. (I wouldn’t consider myself dowdy yet but not that trendy).
  • Trader Joe’s – Seriously? What is all the hype about? This is just a grocery store people! They have some different stuff. That’s cool. Their prices are more than Kings or Safeway and more in line with Whole Foods (who I believe is over-priced anyway). It seems to imply that it is healthier – however their produce section is small and picked over! I love Sprouts. I will keep going THERE! I bought a couple bottles of Charles Shaw (Two Buck Chuck which is actually $2.99) and I’ve not tried them yet. Perhaps I will be a convert after that?

So there you have it. My personal take on all the “new” stores in town. I’ll probably see you at the next one too. Gotta see what all the hype is about. But it is usually just that – HYPE. The grass is not greener on the other side. It is just a different view.