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But I Have A Coupon

writerLet me start this post by acknowledging that it’s been awhile since I’ve felt up to writing. My brain seems to have been rewired the past year due to a series of events that felt like literal slams to the head, and it’s become more difficult for me to write something longer than 140 characters. But in the past few days, I’ve had some silly First World problems that  fell into a pattern that was so inane, the only place it made sense to gripe about this nonsense was this blog.

It all had to do with brick-and-mortar stores and coupons. For those of you who don’t know me, I need to tell you that I absolutely LOVE coupons. I’ve been known to drive many miles out of my way if I’ve got a coupon for an amazing deal. No one should take that pleasure away from me, since I ask for so little in life. When I get a shirt that was originally $50 for $5 between sales and coupons, it almost makes up for the fact that all I can eat these days without getting sick, is food that tastes like cardboard.

First, I went to my favorite chain drugstore yesterday with two $5 coupons in hand. drugstore-makeupThe makeup area had little yellow signs everywhere that if you spent $20 on certain brands, you would get a $10 coupon as a reward. Who could pass that up when my brand was included? They’re practically giving the makeup away at that point! So as I started picking up some blush and concealer to bring to the register, one of the salespeople was nearby and informed me that the special did not start until 4:00 PM that afternoon. It was only 1 o’clock. I said I had never heard of such a thing at a drugstore. She said she had put the signs up early so they’d be ready, and pointed to a teensy weensy dot in the upper right-hand corner of the sign that she assured me said the special started at 4:00. I had to take her word for it since that caveat just looked like a dead gnat when I peered at it without my reading glasses. I sighed and put everything back. However, I did return today and did buy what I needed to stock up on, got to use my $5 coupons, and got the $10 coupon in return. But, seriously, it was kind of ridiculous.

I then decided to get some exercise in by walking around the mall. It’s just been too hot to walk outside this summer unless you want to melt into a puddle of skin and bones. The problem is, I feel the need to reward myself with some retail therapy after, which isn’t a great thing for my budget. I suppose it’s better than rewarding myself with a hot sundaefudge sundae. My favorite department store had a coupon for $10 off $50 which included not only regular and sale priced-merchandise, but also clearance, which is practically unheard of. But if you were buying less than $50 of merchandise, they were offering 25% off, which was actually a better deal. So I found a few things I liked, waited on a very slow-moving line for about 10 minutes, and presented my merchandise. The salesgirl agreed with me that the 25% discount was the way to go. She rang up my merchandise and scanned the coupon. A concerned look came over her face and she informed me she’d have to try the $10 coupon after all since for some reason the other coupon wasn’t working. Then she tried that coupon and it didn’t work either. She asked where I had gotten the merchandise and I pointed. “Oh,” she said, with a disappointed look on her face. “Those are doorbusters and you can’t use a coupon for doorbusters.” “What?” I practically shrieked, very grumpy after standing on that line for so long. “But this coupon says it’s for all merchandise.” But of course, it wasn’t. The one exclusion was doorbusters. I told her to forget it, except for the clearance shirt I got for $6.

Today, while running errands, I stopped at a smaller clothing store where I had a coupon for 50% off your highest-priced item if you spent a certain amount. They outletwere also having a sale of 40% off everything in the store, but you couldn’t combine the two. I found two things I really liked, went to the register to pay, smilingly handed my coupon to the saleswoman and, guess what? The coupon wouldn’t work. Why not? Because in tiny little print it said it was only for their outlet stores, and was only good through tomorrow. Well, the nearest outlet store is 45 minutes away, so that wasn’t my first option – not this weekend. I ended up settling for 40% off plus another small discount for being a frequent customer, or some such thing.

coupons

What’s the takeaway? Many brick-and-mortar stores aren’t doing so great these days, especially with the ease of ordering things online. My suggestion? Don’t make it so hard for customers who really want to shop in your store to get their discounts.  Don’t make coupons that are so limiting or confusing that the coupons will only work for 1% of the merchandise. Because you’re gambling that we’ll buy your stuff anyway. But many of us will put the items back, storm dramatically out of the store, and have some not-so-great feelings about returning another time. Of course, there are still those of us who will return another day – as long as you’ll take our coupons.

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

 

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Happy New Year 2017

valentines.saleNo, that’s not a typo. Ads for Christmas started before Halloween this year. In the frenzy for sales numbers, Thanksgiving was barely an afterthought as stores insisted on opening by Thanksgiving afternoon. Last week, I guess retailers felt they had saturated the print and visual media long enough regarding Christmas, so I actually saw ads for Valentine’s Day! Yesterday, the day before Christmas, they started inundating us with the post-Christmas sales. I guess the message is now that you’ve spent months shopping for those perfect gifts for everyone you know, forget the actual holiday and let’s get on with the shopping.

 

 

There are end-of-summer sales 4th of July weekend. On the one hand, I’m not Fireworks_diego_bay_on_the_fourth_of_julycomplaining about that – this means I can still get clothes I might actually want to wear during the summer before summer is even halfway over, at drastically reduced prices. On the other hand, this push to keep us buying further and further into the future is, in my humble opinion, the reason so many of us feel that our lives are just racing by.

 

 

 

 

clock.warped

 

 

When you can’t just be in the moment, when you’re constantly urged to start planning for events that are still months away, there is no longer a present (pun intended). Life just gets pushed further and further along at breakneck speed. To where?

 

 

 

 

When I was a kid (yes, once again, back in prehistoric times), time seemed to move grassat the pace of grass growing. I don’t remember ever thinking that something enjoyable had raced by in the blink of an eye. But when I talk to children these days, I often hear them say how quickly the year has gone, or express similar thoughts. What are we doing to our kids, let alone, ourselves when  all we do is tell them that now doesn’t matter?

 

rocket

Life goes by way too fast, without us ramping up to warp speed. At this pace, if we keep pushing our rampant commercialism to the next level, we might have end-of-summer sales before the season starts. And eventually, the further we push things ahead, we’ll meet at the actual time that would be appropriate for a particular holiday or season. At the rate things are going, I’m giving it two years for everything to sort itself out and catch up to itself.

 

Meanwhile, I hope you had a very happy holiday season, and I’d like to wish you all a very Happy 2017.

 

happy new year 2015 sms in English

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

In Search of Middle Ground

Head in HandsI’m aware that I’m lacking patience, particularly recently. There are things that I used to let slide, or maybe even laugh at, that I just don’t want to put up with anymore. Our lives are filled with lots of things that are annoying and frustrating, and most of them don’t need to be. I know we’re supposed to learn not to sweat the little things, but when things that used to be enjoyable now become nerve-wracking, I find myself biting my tongue so that my true feelings don’t come spewing out.

So, I did some walking in the mall this weekend, and stopped in at what used to be my favorite lotion and hands.1potion store, thinking I might buy some hand cream. I used to love shopping there, before they remodeled and turn it into some kind of harsh, futuristic nightmare. There is nothing even remotely relaxing about shopping there these days. It used to be enjoyable, stopping and checking all the soaps, gels, and creams and trying all the samples until I either smelled like a fruit orchard or a bakery – either way, delicious. But now, everything is very white and sterile-looking and not fun-cluttered, just difficult to navigate.

But stepping through the open portal into that glaring world was just the beginning. Within the span of approximately one minute, I was approached sequentially by four overly cheerful salespeople, asking what they could help me find. I told them, one by one that I was just browsing. For some reason, that stumped them. I guess browsing is no longer encouraged. In fact, it seemed to be frowned upon. How could I possibly not have a purpose upon entering this store?

One girl couldn’t let it go. She pulled out a sample of one of the creams I had just checked out.

“How about this one?” she asked. “Here, it’s my favorite. Why don’t you try it?”

Why do salespeople think that if it’s their favorite it must be my favorite? Is the ringing endorsement of a girl younger than my children really going to influence my decision? But I tried to be nice.

“Oh, thanks. I checked that one out already, and I’m still trying to decide,” I told her as fake-nicely as I could.

puppies.playingBut she followed me, like a playful puppy. I do love puppies. I didn’t love this girl, however. She didn’t know how to take a hint. “Well, what do you like?” she asked.

And so began the tongue-biting. There were a lot of things I felt like saying. But I just told her I was still in the midst of the decision process, and I turned around to check out the samples again. I guess she got tired of looking at my back, so she moved on to more welcoming customers. Now please understand. I have worked in retail. I have had to approach people and offer services the store provided. And 99.9% of the time, I got a palm held up two inches from my face. So I have empathy for those who have been instructed to do the same. But in a tiny store, they should not have every person on the sales floor going up to every customer who comes in and persistently insist that they can help them find what they need.

I was approached by another salesperson. “So, have you decided what you like, or can you use some help?”

I don’t know if these people now work on commission or they’re just instructed to be as annoying as possible. But I promise, I was not feeling happy or relaxed at this point. I let my teeth show in an approximation of a smile.

“I’m fine, thank you,” I replied through said teeth.

“OK, just let us know if you need anything,” she said cheerily.

beach.blogAnd so it went with the other two salespeople. Finally, I found a beachy-type of scent that I liked and I went to stand on line. The salesgirl carrying around the samples obviously misinterpreted this as a signal that she could once again approach me. I tried to avoid eye contact, but she barreled over, anyway. “So, you found something you like?” she asked, smiling approvingly at the tube in my hand.

I nodded. “I did. Thank you,” I said, attempting to match her enthusiasm. The fact that I was holding an item I was planning to buy seemed to be code for letting her know her job with me was done, and she walked away. Like magic. I tucked that nugget of information into a deep corner of my brain for future use, as if I might actually remember it.

But then I thought about the choice I had made. Maybe I liked the cherry scent better. Or the citrusy OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAone. Or even the tropical one. So I left the line for a moment to make sure I had chosen wisely. I thought about switching, since I really did like the cherry one. As I picked the sample up in order to try it, I turned around. In the few seconds since I had abandoned my place in line, there were now at least 15 people who had taken my place. Pretty much like everything else in my life. You snooze, you lose.

I knew then what I had to do. I put the hand cream down, turned around and left the store. In my mind, the salespeople were waving me back, assuring me they could help me. That they had all the answers.  While it’s nice to not be ignored, it is not nice to be bombarded by both sensory input and overly eager salespeople who make it impossible to enjoy the experience of just browsing.

maze.blogThere are some stores where you could jump on the tables and do a song and dance while stripping off your clothes, and still, no one would bother to ask if you needed help. I do appreciate a little attention. I appreciate being asked – one time – if I need help, and if I say no thank you, just let me know you’re available if I change my mind. But walking through a crowded, shiny maze while being jumped at by multiple people who won’t leave you alone is like navigating a nightmarish video game.

Boing boing boing – no, thank you. Really, I mean it. Have a nice day.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved