FEATURE: DECCAN HERALD/THE SMART SHOPPER



Are you a smart shopper?



Scoring great stuff at all the sales is only part of the deal. Spending well, and wisely, makes the deal a super one. Sheila Kumar points the way down Shop Street.


It’s Sales Time in the city and we are trying our best not to lose our heads, right? We read of markdowns in our favourite stores in the morning papers and immediately start up, hunting for wallet and car keys.

However, we also know that such sprees and splurges leave our wallets depleted, and leave us with a hollow feeling…the plunge towards Mother Earth after flying high.

Add to that tired feet after trudging miles and miles, regret at having bought that expensive outfit you instinctively know will not suit you, regret that you managed only a couple of those thrifty scarves going at an unbelievable discount… whoever said shopping was fun?

Actually, some savvy shopping will save the day and all the days of festive sales, too. The deal is to use your head before you use your money. Do R & D. Don’t charge out the moment you read the word ‘sale.’ Collect news of all sales for three days running, then zero in on which sales you really, really need to check out. Keep that list with you for at least a day, to chop and change. More chop than change, we mean.

Make a list. It can start off as a very inclusive list with all things and everything from a silk sari to a linen shirt to an egg beater on it. After you scribble down all your wants/ needs/ desires down, attack the same list with gusto. Out goes anything you know you can live without. Out go whims and fancies. Okay, let’s leave in one whim/fancy… that is your splurge.

Visit your wardrobe. No not in the Narnia way. Just open your closet doors and stare hard at everything in there. Then, start weeding operations. After which, start listing stuff you need to replace. Be practical but be inclusive.

Take along the colour match. This is essential because you could end up with sadly mismatched kurtas, salwars, churidars, dupattas, shirts, trousers, socks, etc. One neat tip: rather than bundling along a whole outfit for the matching hunt, take along a bangle in the exact shade you are looking for. (This works well for men, too… if you can brandish a bangle in a store with insouciance!)

Make a budget. Put down that budget at the top of the list in your notebook. Take that notebook along with your shopping list. Believe in that budget. Stick to that budget. Break it down. Don’t attempt too many stores in one session. Stagger your visits to far-flung areas. Begin with the stores farther away, then work your way down to the ones in your vicinity. One mall in one morning will be enough, we assure you. You are not part of a shopping marathon.

Be  properly attired. By which, we mean clothes that can come off easy in the fitting rooms. Shoes that are made for trudging. One big fabric tote to avoid the many plastic bags. And yes, minimum make-up so you don’t smear mascara or liner on clothing old or new. A small umbrella for these endless days of endless rain.

In the trial room. Take as many clothes as you are permitted to, to avoid repeat visits and repeat queue-joining. Have a friend hold some extras for you, or go get you the smaller or larger size. Check the mirror, front, back,  side views. Stretch, squat. What doesn’t fit comfortably is not for you.

Make notes.  When you see your object of desire in a shop, make a note of it. Don’t immediately buy it. After you are done with the store or mall, re-visit that shop and if you still feel the tug, buy it. The smallest smidgen of doubt and you should walk out.
Ask for help. Whether it is a matter of size,  colour or fit, ask a salesperson. They are there to help you. And time is of the essence for you.

Take a break. Grab a coffee or tea. Maybe a bite of something to eat, too. Sit down and run an eye through your list, see what you have bought, what you still need to get. Then resume your shopping, recharged and rejuvenated.

Turn away. If you see something you must have which is way, way beyond your budget, you need to say ‘no’ to yourself. Go shop some more, go shop elsewhere and chances are, you will find a cheaper option, we assure you. If you just must have the item, scratch something from your list and substitute this expensive one instead. But don’t overshoot that budget.

The right time. Shop when the shops open, that’s when staff are at their freshest and most helpful. Shop for shoes in the evening, when your feet have swelled and won’t swell more. Avoid festival weekends, that is a time for shopping madness. Shop at a new place at a time when there are no sales on, to first acquaint yourself with the mall or store. Do examine everything you buy carefully. It’s easy to miss flaws that will seem larger than life once you take the object home.

Shop solo. This flies in the face of convention but studies show you shop better when you take yourself alone to a store… you and your list, of course. If you must head out with a friend, separate at the store and agree to meet up for a bite in a bit.

















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