A relentless shopper is not (1) someone who shops all the time, (2) someone who is always talking about shopping or (3) someone who has shopping withdrawal; that is an addict, something I would advise against being.
But a relentless shopper is someone worth being. It’s someone who enjoys shopping, but really likes finding the best deal or sale possible, and then takes advantage of it. The qualities below are what I consider essential to relentless shoppers:
Be resilient. This might bring to mind the contestants on TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” but they are good at what they do. The important thing is to be resilient towards deals, not people. If you find a coat or shirt that you like, but it’s way out of your price range, don’t panic. There’s a good chance that within weeks, the price will start to drop, and continue to decrease.
The best way to do this is to have a presence both in stores and online. Recently, I was looking for a winter vest. Earlier in the fall, I found a really great one at Ralph Lauren. It was a great color and built really well, but it was $225—way too much. So I waited a bit, and a few weeks later it was down to $165. Then a week later it was down to $135 and I bought it. But the story doesn’t end there, the day after Christmas; it was marked down to $90. Instead of sitting on my laurels, I called Saks Fifth Ave, which is where I bought it, and got my $45 back. That is what I mean by resilient. Know what you want and then seek it out.
Be aware. The reason I was so successful above is because I had a solid idea where to look. You might not work for the CIA, but you can still reap the benefits of cross-referencing data like crazy. Look at Saks, Nordstrom’s, Macys, Amazon, Gilt (careful it’s addicting), Zappos and everywhere in between. The key is to look— and then keep looking. These stores usually don’t coordinate their sales, even with the same item, so looking in all the possible places will yield you the lowest price. And don’t rule out physical stores either, if the discount is big enough, buying in-store, even with tax, will be cheaper.
This also applies to sample sales: knowing when a sample sale starts might make or break your success. It’s the same with special events; poke around on the internet and ask some friends where they are going down and you will be happy you did. The other great resource for this, as Ilyas points out in “Style Advice For Tech Geeks”, is social media. Follow brands and retailers on Twitter and Facebook and you will see the benefit immediately.
Also, it’s worth doing some research before you walk into a store. Knowing what you are looking for, at least generally, will narrow down your search, as well as anyone’s who helps you. See what styles are online versus in store. Don’t be afraid to call ahead and ask if they have something in stock. And knowing what you want, or what the strengths of the brand are, will usually yield you a bit more respect with the stores staff, which is always important.
Showrooming. Retailers coined the term in past years, as more and more people would go to physical stores to look at products, and then end up buying them online. This isn’t great for retailers, but you aren’t a retailer so you should use showrooming to your advantage. Back to the vest story, I didn’t know I liked it until I actually tried it on and realized how nice it was. There is still a huge benefit to this, with any clothing, especially shoes.
A relentless shopper is not (1) someone who shops all the time, (2) someone who is always talking about shopping or (3) someone who has shopping withdrawal; that is an addict, something I would advise against being.Evidence of this is the pop-up shop Everlane opened around holiday time in NYC. The company runs an entirely vertically integrated business, but they don’t have a store, since they are all digital. And they still don’t have one, since you couldn’t actually buy anything at the popup. But they understood the value of feeling and seeing clothes in person, and I’m sure having the physical presence boosted their sales.
The point is that even though retailers frown upon the practice, you shouldn’t care. It is one of the best ways to see if the product is right for you. It might be the only reason to go to a store, at least until retailers perfect same day delivery.
Don’t compromise. If something is price too high, wait for it to come down. If they don’t have something in your size, inquire about it or wait for it to come back in stock. It’s important that you don’t compromise your wallet or integrity for something you know is too expensive, also known as an impulse buy. Everyone makes them and sometime they turn out well. But avoiding them it probably worth it.
This also applies to price. If you saw the same item priced lower at a different store or site, ask if the shop you are in will price-match it. Many will because they want the sale and any sale is better than no sale. And if you have a coupon at home but forgot it, ask the cashier if they have an extra or if you could use theirs. Again, if I have a good experience at a store, I will likely come back.
Now get out there and be a relentless shopper. You don’t have to be Danny Ocean and rob the Bellagio to feel like you got your moneys worth. Best of luck and be fearless.