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December 9, 2005

Holiday Shopping 101

Posted by admin

Last Friday night the time came to get really serious about shopping for the holidays. My sons and I headed for the local mall ready to shop. My husband, who has participated in these kinds of adventures in the past, opted to stay home. He is not enamored with the way we race from store to store and make this an adventure.

I do not love to shop, but somehow going to the mall at the holidays takes on a theme of something like a scavenger hunt. If you know what you are looking for, you are out to find it for the best price in the shortest amount of time. If you have no idea what you are looking for, there is nothing like the glee you feel when you find it, especially when you know it's JUST perfect.

But to meet these goals there are obstacles.

The first obstacle: The Out-of-Stock Item That You Counted On

Those reading last week's blog know that the key to artificial tree success is the Illuminations Christmas Tree scented candles in jars. Well, imagine my dismay when they were sold out in the mall, as well as online. The salesperson told me sweetly that they were expecting more in on Tuesday. Of course, now it's Friday and I completely forgot to call!

The second obstacle: Unpreparedness for The Sales

The major department stores all were offering special sales for credit card holders. There were signs in one store touting "Private Sale." We wanted to know HOW to qualify. All were referencing cards that had been sent in the mail. Oh THOSE cards. The ones I left home. I actually went to the Customer Service person at Bloomingdale's to explain I had left them home and ask for new ones. Translation: This is the retail equivalent of "The Dog Ate My Homework." Now note that I had not found anything I wanted to buy. I just wanted to be sure I was able to buy it for the "inside price" given the opportunity.

The third obstacle: We Have It In The Back

I think it's a conspiracy. Whatever size I want, the item is not available on the floor. If I want small, I can find medium, large or X-large in great quantity. If I want medium, they have small, large or X-large. Once I track down a salesperson, this is what happens. They zap it with the good old scanner, and utter the dreaded words, "We have it in the stockroom." This is the equivalent of "Cool your heels for 30 minutes while the inexperienced seasonal help looks for it." Ugh.

The fourth obstacle: The Other Shoppers

I seem to always get in line behind people who a) need to do a return first usually with no receipt, b) have decided that NOW is the moment to open up a credit card to get that additional 15% off or c) need boxes with tissue, each item rung up separately or something else still on the floor that will drag the appointed salesperson away for a minimum of 15 minutes.

The fifth obstacle: The Gift Does Not Exist!

I kid you not here folks. My older son wanted to get a stuffed fox for a girl he knows from school. She did not want a bear, a bunny or a dog. She wanted a fox or another woodlands of the forest stuffed animal. And it needed to be very soft and fluffy. Okay. HOW hard can this be? We live in horse country where on Thanksgiving morning people who clearly are not making the turkey at their house all go out and fox hunt. These are the same people who have an annual party to raise money for charity where everyone decorates their tables with foxes! Of course, they are not soft and fluffy, but hey, how hard can it be.

Well, I now know the definition of IMPOSSIBLE. We went to six stores and called two others. I have seen dogs, bunnies, bears, horses and even pigs, but no foxes. And for the record, it cannot be a simple Beanie Baby fox...we were going for larger and more distinctive here. For a while my younger son was holding up a dark colored dog and saying he really thought Greg could pass this off as a fox. For a while I actually thought this was a good idea! It's amazing what hours of shopping can do to one's sanity.

We came home and googled "stuffed fox" and found a number of them --- red fox, white fox and every other variation. Imagine that. I did not have to leave the house to find the fox.

All this speaks to yet another reason to buy --- books!

1) If it's out of stock in a store, you can get it online.

2) The sales usually are right in the store...with few exceptions.

3) Typically all the stock is on the floor. There are no size issues.

4) If you buy online, you are spared the other shoppers.

5) It exists!

The one thing that did happen along the way on the fox quest --- we found a lot of other presents! That's the one thing about holiday shopping. You always can find something you never knew you HAD to have, but were not looking for.