The longest day of the year has just been and gone and even though the ‘little ones’ have just escaped from another school year, it is already time to go SALE shopping. Harrods of course, are offering 50 per cent off and I’m drooling all over my phone, ogling the Mulberry Silky Calf Leather Tote, reduced from £1,500 to £750.00…then I remember that they killed a sweet young calf and charge us a small fortune for it…right, back to reality and how the rest of us live and ‘sale’ shop. I quickly scroll down to the ‘affordable’ bags to find an absolutely gorgeous Michael Kors tan leather Selmaq bag, reduced from £220 to £129…not too outrageous and a wonderful ‘multi-wear’ colour. This is what you spend your money on in the sales, good quality handbags, they will last a lifetime. Choose carefully, avoid extra zips, buttons, attachments, stay classic and a muted shade — perfection. But I wanted to feel the quality of the bag; I wanted to see exactly what size it was; the picture may have been photoshopped! Shopping online is deflating. I put down my phone. Life is all about ‘experiences’, isn’t it?
I know that everyone shops online but I cannot stress enough the benefits of buying from a local shop. Our lives have become somewhat ‘futuristic’, we can quite happily survive from one day to the next without any ‘significant’ human contact. We might fool ourselves into thinking that because we communicate by text or on social media that we are ‘actually’ connecting with someone — a cop-out if you ask me. ‘Real’ shopping is ‘all about the experience’, sometimes you might not actually buy anything but you will undoubtedly have learned some valuable bits and pieces along the way and you will have had a chat here and there too. Somebody recently said to me that she has not been inside the door of a shop for about two years — she buys everything online and gets unbelieveable bargains — it made me sad, really sad. I believe that she was depriving herself of the ‘real treat’ involved in buying something new. Do you know that feeling when you leave a shop, preferably a local shop, after you have got an unbelievable deal on a dress/top/shoes/piece of jewellery that makes you feel like a goddess, and you walk down the street, bubbling inside, beaming? You know what I mean, right? You will more than likely bump into someone that you know and proudly show off your amazing purchase. Do you realise in that moment that you are a better form of advertising for ‘that’ shop than any signs or adverts online? Whoever you meet will, most probably will head straight to the shop that you just left. You might even sit in a coffee shop with three or four others and, hey presto, when you show them what you bought, there is a mass evacuation, four women go straight out the door and run to see what ‘goddess’ piece that they will find there. Well done you, you are a part of a system that keeps our friends and families in jobs, you are a part of helping to turn someone’s dreams of owning their own business into a reality, and a successful one at that! Whether it is a hairdressing business, a jeweller, a beautician, a clothes shop or a shoe shop, it is ‘bread and butter’ for the owner and may offer one of your children a summer job through those expensive college years. That is something that you just cannot replicate when you order online and then open a package, is it really worth the €20 or €30 that you might save by buying online? If you ask me, the ‘feel good’ factor when you buy locally is ‘priceless’.
Now is the time that all of the boutiques are having sales — and damn good sales at that! Before you go shopping, please, please make a short list of what you know is ‘lacking’ or missing in your wardrobe. Doing this helps when your brain turns into jello in a sale frenzy. Always buy ‘classic’, avoid any trend that is or was really big — it will date before you even have it out of the bag! Feel the quality; it is better to have bought one really great piece reduced to €80, than to have blindly bought four silly pieces for €20 each. ‘Never ever’ buy something that is clearly too small for your body, don’t fool yourself into thinking that the item of clothes will encourage you to lose weight — it will never be the clothes — it will be a change in mind-set and a decision to show yourself exactly how much ‘you’ mean to ‘you’! Separates can be tricky, what I mean by that is an isolated piece that does not just ‘go’ with anything but will need you to find something special or unusual to go with it. Unless you already have a piece at home that will compliment completely, leave it behind.
It is a good idea to ask some of your favourite boutiques exactly when they will be having a sale, so that you know in advance when to go. The most sought after sizes, from 10 to 16 are always the first to go, so you will need to be among the first few in. Certain brands will suit your shape best, you know that and when you find a shop that stocks it, always leave your number with the owner so that they can contact you when new pieces are coming in, nothing better than ‘getting first dibs’!
Ninety-nine times out a 100, everything will work out fantastically, you will be delighted with what you have bought, quality, colour, size etc. But if something goes wrong, don’t blab to everyone and their mother about it — go straight back to the shop. Maybe there is a button missing that neither you nor the shop owner had noticed, perhaps there is a stain on a shoe or the clasp on a piece of jewellery is tricky, whatever it is, go back to the shop. I’ve noticed that quite a lot of women would not ‘dare’ to do that, in case of what others think yet they will quite happily tell anyone would listen, on the street, the ‘wrong’ that was done them. Every shop owner that I know very much appreciates ‘being informed directly’ if there is a problem, nobody wants to lose a customer (and maybe also the 10 others that were ‘blabbed’ too) They will gladly do their utmost to sort it out, it is ‘their’ livelihood after all and then everyone is happy. Don’t look on it like you are ‘complaining’, you don’t need to be nasty or have an attitude in order to get what you paid for, you can be discreet.
Classic cut dresses and skirts are always a great ‘buy’ in the sales, after all you can ‘never’ have enough dresses. Shoes are a wonderful buy too and of course a really good quality bag that is reduced is the ‘best thing since sliced pan’. Enjoy the sales, enjoy the hustle and bustle of it. Well done you for shopping local now and in the future so that there will always be a place for the ‘small’ business and you are a part of creating that.
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