Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Baby & The Bathwater: You Better Shop Around.

My Mama told me, you better shop around. And hear me out, she was right. I think one of the biggest mistakes we make that breaks the bank is that we don't shop around enough. We've grown accustomed to "one stop shopping" out of pure convenience and sometimes, laziness. I must warn you, you're talking to a guy who would much rather spend a day running errands than hitting one large chain store. If I could do it every Saturday, I love to get things at the local Farmer's Market downtown, buy wine from the Market Street Wine Shop, get stationary at Rock, Paper, Scissors, get my pants at a men's shop, and then pick up my dry cleaning. As the son of local business owners, I grew up kind of anti-bring the giant chain store to town.

In addition to isolating privately owned and operated boutiques, hardware stores, markets, etc. I just really have no desire to look down into my shopping cart and see a pack of blank CDs, a pair of khaki pants, a box of holiday cards, 2 spare tires, a bolt of fabric, a car battery, some windex, a head of lettuce, and a pound of ground chuck. Doesn't do it for me. However, I'm not here to tell you how to shop, and as my friend Ted likes to say in reference to my ramblings "what does Ed know?" Exactly. Not much. You all have to have learned by now that I like to circle the airport a few times before I finally land this bad boy.

This is not new news, so don't call the press. I've just learned that if we take our time and look around, we can really start to save money. I think we're guilty of getting one catalog in the mail and seeing something we don't think we can live without, and what do we do? We assume it's exclusive to that company, no one else makes anything like it, and we convince ourselves our lives are going to a little less beautiful and meaningful if we don't buy that one thing at that moment (or guilt our significant/insignificant others into buying it for us.) This is especially true with design catalogs and magazines. For example, I fell in love with this Good Housekeeping print when I saw it in a Ballard Designs Catalog. This kid looks just like I did as a child, I have a dog, I grew up with dogs, his washtub is the color of my bathroom. (I also thought it would be fun to have because I grew up with my mom always having Good Housekeeping, Southern Living, etc. around) We were a match made in heaven. However, Ballard was selling it framed for over $200.00. While I loved it, I'm not paying $200.00 for something that's going to hang over the john. So I went searching and I found the exact same print in larger, poster form from for $25.99. Add in a $25.00 frame from the craft store and for $50.00, I have exactly what I wanted and I can still afford to eat and go to the gym.

The same thing goes for the following piece. A large, stretched canvas version of this guy sells for between $150.00-$200.00 from various design companies and chain stores. However, a still large, but smaller than the others, version retails at Target for $40.00. It raises a good point, no it's not going to be the exact same frame, or stretched on the exact same wood canvas, but in my book, who cares? It's about getting that look and that same feeling. Hell, between these 2 purchases alone, I've almost saved enough money to rent my friend Tom's beach house in NC for a week (it's available and gorgeous, if you want details, let me know).

So, next time, skip the one-stop-shop if you have the time. Let go of that immediate desire to hit the "add to cart" button when you're online shopping, and shop around for a little while. Even if you find it at another store and it's the same price, maybe they do free shipping or have a coupon. You never know. It can't hurt. It can only help you save. If you shop around, come back and the item is now sold out, it wasn't meant to be. It's like I said back in one of my first posts "it's a pretty dress, Christy. It's just not your pretty dress." That, or you can blame the new void you now have in your life due to the lack of buying that now, sold out lamp you coveted, on me if it makes you feel better. I won't hold a grudge. Do a Google search, try Ebay, Craigslist, or hit some stores one weekend, you never know. You might just find exactly what you were looking for. Mama is right, you better shop around.

P.S. Much love to my Lovely Ladies of Peabody Hall aka The Real Designing Women. Julia Sugarbaker, eat your saucy heart out!


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  1. I found old magazine prints at Hobby Lobby ($6 each) for over my toilet, too. I wanted a third one, but couldn't find any I liked, so I bought an actual 1950's magazine on Ebay for a few bucks. However, I cannot bear to cut the cover off, so I think my plan is foiled unless I can fit the entire magazine into my frame. And you are so right, if the item you want isn't there after you decide to go for it, it wasn't meant to be. Great post!

  2. Hey, Ed!
    Thanks for mentioning our beach house!! That alone should earn you a FAMILY DISCOUNT!!!!