How to Shop at Marshalls... or Ross, TJ Maxx, Burlington Coat Factory, the Salvation Army, or insert your favorite discount store here. Some people don't have the patience for the overcrowded racks, the inconsistent merchandise, or the unglamorous dressing rooms - but for those of us willing to tough it out for a deal, these stores are the holy grail of good buys. Nevertheless, there should be some ground rules taken into consideration before filling your cart with products boasting 50% off stickers. Yes, it may seem like an unassuming pile of $7 t-shirts and $25 pumps, but before you know it your closet it filled with cheap items you wear only once that have plowed a hole right through your budget. Here's a few tips for using the power of the discount merchant wisely:
- Don't go looking for a specific item - Discount stores can be hit or miss, so don't stress yourself out by looking for a particular wardrobe staple you have in mind. Save yourself the hassle, and go somewhere you know is dedicated to providing that specific item.
- Do know what you need - Be clear on what you already own and what you are truly lacking of for the upcoming season. Stick to those areas in the store and you might just find some treasures waiting for you.
- Don't buy something that isn't perfect, even if it's 80% off - Even $1.99 is too much to spend on anything that isn't right for you; particularly when it is an item that is not critical to your survival (no, those Steve Maddens are not critical to your survival even at $39... especially when they're a half size too small)
- Do pay attention to quality - Check for signs of pilling, test the seams, look for loose buttons or thread, and make sure the fit flatters you. If it passes with flying colors, and the price is within your budgeted range, then you have a winner.
- Don't let the knick-knacks fool you - Just like every retailer, these stores will bombard you with impulse merchandise at key points around the store (and particularly on the maze of shelves and displays they herd you through to get to the register). Just because they are cheap and strategically placed doesn't mean you actually want them - resist!
- Do have fun - Shopping for clothing should be fun, and hitting up your local discount store can be a great way to stick to your budget while adding a few new pieces to your Spring wardrobe. Proceed wisely, and the discount deities may smile upon you.