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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Are You Enticed By these Bargains?

For my frugal sustenance and sense of community, I either read old friends, like the Tightwad Gazette, or friends old and new around the blogosphere. The mainstream press is completely clueless about this stuff.

Last week, CNN on line had a feature under the rubric Frugal Fridays. I felt a sense of anticipation, followed by a thud of irritation. The article trumpeted: Get a designer whatever for 1/10 the price. Then the truth is revealed: Yes, you can get a Target version of the designer for 1/10 the price of the real line.

Want to dress like Drew Barrymore or Cameron Diaz without a blockbuster budget? Bargain-hunting fashionistas are counting down to Sunday, when Gaby Basora's new Tucker for Target line goes on sale -- the latest in the retailer's limited-edition designer collections.

But instead of paying $260 for one of Tucker's trademark silk jersey blouses, Target shoppers can snag a stretch georgette version for $24.99.

Have you ever seen the Target versions? They are so horrifyingly junky that they don't sell at Goodwill. The article said that certain items become collector's items and sell on eBay for big bucks. I suppose that if you can see into the future, you could justify buying something as an investment. But if you could see into the future, well, you'd know which stocks to buy, and wouldn't have to bother with Target and eBay.

Then there's this week's article about how to score (how I loathe that word) deals from on-line "members only" sales. These sites are the the antithesis of frugality: because things sell out quickly and in real time, your competitive instincts may get you to buy something that--if you thought about it--you would turn from as a terrible mistake. These "members-only" sites have zillions of members, anyway, so it's not like they're really exclusive anyway.

Some of the "ultimate scores" that were featured:
1. The Baby Twin Espresso Maker (pictured), available now, for $475, regularly $699.
2. A Vera Wang dress in silk organza for $699 on Gilt, regularly $1,850.

Oh, you get the idea. Here's a ringing endorsement from a happy aficianada: "I love HauteLook for baby stuff. They have a lot of the brands that you really can't justify paying full price for," says sample sale shopper Sara Michel Osberg.

Fashionistas and Frugalistas: What do you think of these bargains? Have you ever bought something from one of the featured sites? Are you a Target fan?

Oh, here's a good investment, especially if you check it out of the library.


Deja Pseu said...

Another problem with a lot of those "members only" shopping sites is that they have "no returns" policies. So if you buy something and it doesn't fit, you're SOL. And yes, those Target "designer" pieces are usually crap.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

We do not have Target here but have Zellers...which is a company owned by the Bay (originally the Hudson's Bay) and their line by designer Alfred Sung is stylish, current, and affordable but one does need to carefully examine the garments. I find the natural fabrics much better than the synthetics too.

Members only sales seem rather stuffy and snobby to me...maybe that's just sour grapes...I've never been invited!

Marcela said...

We don't have target or H&M here to access designer's collections at small prizes. I was wondering how good they were...just because they are from X person they may not be worth the money.
As for the shopping clubs, I quote Groucho Marx "I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member" ;)

Northmoon said...

I have a completely different mindset about costs when I know I can find clothing at Value Village or Goodwill for $10 to $15 per item - good quality too with a bit of luck. Or I can go to a couple of good consignment shops and get great quality for far less than it originally cost. So why pay $25, $30 or more for crap because it has a designer name on it?

I never shop at stores like Target for clothes. I'd rather pay full price for a good quality item I know I'll wear often, or troll the consignment shops, where you never know what gems you might find.

Anonymous said...

I only shop for bargains at the thrift store.

I have seen those "members only" sites and they do offer really good discounts, but I don't like spending more than thrift store prices on things I didn't plan to buy.

I remember once, seeing "the perfect bag" on the Target web site. It was one of those designer lines, and it looked really nice on the screen. But when I went to the store, it looked flimsy and cheap.

Duchesse said...

"For my frugal sustenance and sense of community, I either read old friends, like the Tightwad Gazette... The mainstream press is completely clueless about this stuff."

No they aren't Frugal, they are just not going to bite the (advertising) hand that feeds them. In order to keep the whole shebang running, people have to be convinced they 'need' or 'deserve' stuff, whether it's a $75,000 wedding or $25 Target blouse.

Though the mainstream press may run occasional articles about how people are coping during a lingering Great Recession, the lifestyle sections are still going to try to get you to buy.

Shelley said...

I think at this point I'm fairly unplugged from all that. I enjoy looking at pretty pictures, but even were I to dress like Cameron or Drew, I still wouldn't look like them...or Helen Mirren or Annette Benning or any of the movie star types. It's just advertising hype, you know?

The very few things I buy, either that I need or want, are selected irrespective of all that noise. I generally buy at thrift stores, but this past week I bought a special occasion dress from a high end department store by Fenn Wright Manson. The label meant nothing to me except that they do a petite range and if I'm going to spend several hundred pounds, I want it to fit well. Putting on a petite sized item is like coming home for me.

As Bill always says, Everything has been designed by Someone. I do sometimes look at fashions online, but if they require me to register, I stop there; can't be bothered. I used to regularly buy my running clothes from Wal-Mart when I was back in the States. They were a fraction of the UK price and every bit as good quality. Knock about clothes, I don't mind, but I've got the thrift store habit now...

Frugal Scholar said...

@Deja--Ugh. No returns. Then you have got to be crazy. I wonder who buys the Target stuff--it is really junk, generally.

@hostess--I had an Alfred Sung coat--loved it. Bought in Montreal 30 years ago. It was expensive and right after I bought it, I got a job, thank heavens. Members only--anyone can be a member. Soem have millions of members. There would be room for you (and me).

@Marcela--My daughter had heard so much about H and M. When we went to Paris, she insisted on a visit (we had never been to a U.S. branch since there aren't any in our region). What a disappointment for her. There were a few nice things, but many, many were not so nice. She expected paradise.

@northmoon--I am with you. thrift store or expensive. Amazingly, sometimes the thrift store items are the nicer ones in my closet.

Ms M--I'm with you on the thrifts. And I had the same experience with a Target bag--I think by Hayden-Harnett. UGH. In person, it was junk. In a photo, it looked like the real thing.

@Duchesse--You are so right. I can't believe how naive I am sometimes!

@Shelley--I am equally picky when I go to "real stores."

Funny about Money said...

Target togs are sure no substitute for designer clothes. Or even for, say, Dillard's clothes. Never have seen anything there that I even wanted to take off the rack to look at more closely.

However, I picked up a belt there that worked out OK. Didn't last through the ages, but it was fine for a year or so.

Their rubber flip-flops are cute and as good as anyone else's rubber flip-flops...nice for the swimming pool or a run on the grocery store.

Never have been into those "members only" sites. That gimmick looks like a great way to herd people into buying junk they don't need. Get stuff you "can't justify paying full price for"?? How do you justify paying $699 for a dress?