Gone are the days when people shopped with whimsy. Now I go armed with a list, and double guess myself on every item I buy. Now instead of ooh that’s really cute I want it, it’s ooh that’s really cute but will I ever wear it? Probably not, get the sensible item instead you know you’ll wear that more than once.
I have a beer budget, but oh those champagne dreams won’t go away. So I’ve had to become an expert in my own right. I’ve had to learn how to get what I want, for cheap. And now I’m gonna pass along some of my best discoveries.
You want — hot Fall fashion.
How to get it — avoid the regular retail stores and bypass those trendy boutiques. As cute as everything is there, you’ll wind up paying more there than you will at an off-price store like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or my latest haunt, Filene’s Basement. (Sadly, there is no Ross in Illinois. I miss Ross!)
If you’re not used to shopping at stores like these, a brief tutorial. This won’t be an in-and-out shopping trip. Be prepared to spend time sifting through disorganized racks of clothes.
Also, know your stores: TJ Maxx is more about trendy clothes and beauty products, Marshalls is more about shoes, purses, and fly accessories — and the hip teen section in the middle called The Cube. Many of the items available at these off price stores aren’t previous season duds, they’re currently being sold in stores or online… but the vendor may have ordered more than they can sell to department stores. Their miscalculation = your shopportunity, as they say! My recent purchases include a super fly retro-styled denim jacket from TJ Maxx, a cosy and classic V-neck Jones New York sweater from Marshalls, and a stunning crinkled parachute-material skirt from XCVI, that I recall seeing on Zappos for like, $100, I got at Filene’s Basement for $29.95. SO glad I waited and didn’t rush to buy it online. I’d say a good 95% of my shopping is done at off-price stores. These three are my favorites, then there’s Nordstrom Rack which has amazing high end finds…but the prices still aren’t as affordable as the Maxx, Marshalls, or Filene’s. FYI.
You want… furniture for your home.
Where to get it… NOT at a mainstream furniture store, that’s for sure. Have you ever been to a Thomasville store before? The prices are insane! Like, you’re gonna need to have a special credit card just for this purchase, insane. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t afford to pay full price for items like that right now. But I did get a relatively new, great-looking Thomasville dresser about a month ago, from a most unexpected source.
Three words: hotel furniture liquidators.
Do a Google search to see if there are any near where you live. I got lucky — here in Chicago there are THREE hotel furniture liquidation centers. For my Chicago bellas and fellas, I’ll save you some time right now. Cooper Furniture and Carpet is five floors of crazy. Seriously, they could film a horror movie here — the upper floors are just piles and piles of lampshades, old carpet and ugly chairs, and what’s that in the stairwell? Is that a dead pigeon or just a huge pile of feathers? What’s that…smell? Yikes. There are finds for sure, but they’re probably all on the first floor and I wish you all the best in getting someone to help you.
The shopping experience was like night and day, when I went to Fort Pitt Furniture. This place is on a whole ‘nother level. For a super fun shopping experience, you need to go in on Monday or Friday, when Phyllis is working. Who’s Phyllis? She’s a 6-foot-tall sista who will break it down for you, when it comes to finding the best deals in the store. And oh, there are some deals to be had. I got a beautiful, mahogany, marble topped kitchen cabinet/pantry thingy for $120. A Thomasville dresser for $150. And best of all, an enormous wood armoire to hold all my clothes, makeup, and hair products for $99. I said $99! Try finding something like THAT at any other furniture store.
Not the best photo, I took it with my phone. Sorry =(
For other affordable furniture purchases, there’s always IKEA and Craigslist….but Craigslist requires patience and sometimes you just can’t wait forever. For accent pieces and accessories, you need to find out where the nearest Home Goods is. Home Goods is the domestic branch of the TJ Maxx/Marshalls company, and there are fantastic finds there. I bought a gorgeous rug for my bathroom for less than $10, and this was the kind of fluffy rug that would retail at Pier One or Bed Bath and Beyond for over $20.
Another way to find furniture and home decor on the cheap is to look for store closings. Sadly, not every retail chain is sailing through these rough economic seas. But where there’s a store closing, there are items being sold for insanely cheap. This past weekend, I found out that a local Cost Plus World Market was closing. Floor models were moving fast, but the shelves weren’t yet picked clean… and I managed to get the most amazing fluffy white shag rug — originally $300, now $130. SCORE! Even the shelves and fixtures are up for grabs, so if you’re in the Orland Park area — go now!
I’m gonna return to this subject soon — look out for future tips on affordable food shopping, and beauty buys! Where are YOUR affordable shopping secret places? Share with me!