I was chatting with a customer the other day and she told me about finding a good deal on shoes at $10 a pair. Yet, she didn’t buy them because even though they were stylish (and cheap), she didn’t think they were really “her.” Would she ever wear them? Probably not. She tells herself she has to really love something to buy it, whether it’s on sale or not. That’s my philosophy, too, and I really connected with what she said. Although, as a retailer, I might be hoisting my own petard just a bit agreeing that you shouldn’t buy something unless you love it.
There’s just so much “stuff” out there, and so much of it discounted or on clearance. It’s tempting to say, oh, this little tschotke is only $3.99 and this one is only $12.99… and you might end up spending more than you would on just that one special thing (worse, you end up with a whole bunch of clutter). Now I do love a good sale, and I love to comb around in the the thrift stores, and I love it when I can find something for our shop that is really nice (good design, good quality) and can sell for a great price point. [Right now I’m enamored with our new tea towels for $5 each – so lovely, and so inexpensive!]
Some time ago I had a customer take a step into our store (a tourist; she had never visited us before), and announce (loudly) that she was ONLY interested in items that were on sale. So I pointed out our little sale shelf, but wondered (silently) what kind of a shopping strategy that was. She had no idea what we offered or if it worked with her taste, but she was only going to look at sale stuff and nothing else. Okay! Got news for you: usually things are on sale because no one else wanted them. When manufacturers contact me with a big promotion on certain items, I hardly ever bite. Why? Because usually they’re offering those things at a deep discount because they didn’t sell. No one wants it. I’ll get stuck with a bunch of junk that I’ll have to discount deeply too. Then finally, someone will buy it just because it’s on sale. Sigh.
I can’t get this little memory out of my head. Last spring I was standing in line at a big box store (I think I was there out of desperation for some allergy pills). Two ladies in front of me were crowing about this great buy they found: an easter basket with a plastic chicken head and a neon pink tutu surrounding the basket. It was the god-awful ugliest thing I think I’ve ever seen! And they were each buying several of them. The tutu baskets were so marked down they couldn’t resist stocking up. I felt like falling on my knees and begging them not to subject their families (and later, the landfill) with these abominations. Maybe it was the juniper headache I had, but I felt like that perfectly epitomized some of our crazy buying habits. I was trying to imagine the Chinese workers who had assembled the chicken ballerina and what they thought of it. Couldn’t have been much good in that conversation.