Friday, August 11, 2006

They Shopped - I Dropped

Could there be three words more pleasant to the ear this time of year than "back to school"? Well ... perhaps "today is payday", "sleep in late", or "I'm not bored" could be a few but other than that there probably aren't too many more phrases that could make us parents smile more. As the Staples commerical once sang "it's the most wonderful time of the year!"

Sadly most great things generally have one small flaw that keeps them from achieving perfection and in this case it's the dreaded back-to-school shopping that must be undertaken prior to the child(ren) officially going back to school. As a female that doesn't particularly like to shop (yes, it's true - we DO exist!), I dread this ritual second only to Christmas shopping and paying my car taxes. But I can't very well send Amanda off to the hallowed halls of Norwich Free Academy for her very first year of high school with middle school attire now can I? I believe that would fall squarely into the category of "cruel and unusual parental punishment" ~ especially when it comes to the female teen of the species.

Thankfully my friend Paula needed to do some back to school shopping of her own this year what with her new job teaching art down at Grasso Tech in Groton so we planned an outing to the Crystal Mall so that both she and Amanda could get some new duds. Oh ... goodie ... a trip to the mall ...

I'm pretty sure I have never mentioned how much I dislike the mall so let me just say here and now - I do not like the mall, I do not like the mall at all, I do not like it in the Fall, I do not like it short or tall, I do not like it fat or thin, I do not like it on a whim ... well, okay, I'm no Dr. Seuss but I'm sure you get the idea! The thought of spending several hours traipsing around from fitting room to fitting room was just not sounding like a good time on my day off but, alas, it had to be done.

Fortunately, Paula is a better shopper than I and she has the added advantage of having done some of her student teaching at NFA so she knows what's in style, what's cool, what would be appropriate, what would be allowed, etc. Whenever Amanda would show me something and I'd give it the skeptical Mom-look she'd request Paula's opinion and it seemed like nine-times-outta-ten I was getting overruled.

"Hey, Mom, look at these boots" as she held up a pair of what looked to be combat boots with chunky soles. "They're ugly", I stated. "Actually, they look a lot like Doc Martins and are what the kids are wearing these days" from Paula. And as if that wasn't enough the salesman chimed in with, "Fall shoes are going fast so if she doesn't get them now we probably won't have her size later." Well, gee, who am I to veto not only a teenager but a soon-to-be teacher and a salesman, too? I just hope she has them properly broken in before school starts! I finally decided that I was there merely for financial support so I attempted to keep my archaic opinions to myself and just dole out the cash unless something was truly hideous!

One of the highlights of the day for Amanda was a surprise trip to the Lancome counter at Macy's where Paula bought her eyeliner and lip gloss which came with a GWP. My sister-in-law Ann is Queen of the GWP (gift with purchase) and she will be proud to know that her niece is learning the secrets of great shopping (Ann has never met a piece of jewelry & very few shoes she hasn't liked and she's quite the savvy shopper!). So now not only does Amanda have coveted liquid eyeliner but a full set of Lancome make-up products and a carry-bag. These are the things that will light up a 14-year old girl's eyes!

Almost five hours later we finally wrapped up our day and deemed it a success as a good 75% of the back of Paula's Explorer was stacked with bags - none of which contained a single item that wasn't on sale or discounted with a coupon. Paula later told me her final tally, without savings, was close to $700 but she had saved well over $300 and I know that I saved more than 50% on Amanda's purchases. All things considered I guess you can't knock that! I am definitely my Mother's daughter as I never buy anything that isn't on sale and Paula appears to be cut from the same cloth! Hopefully that's something I can pass down to Amanda when she starts making her own money and purchases and realizes the value of a dollar.

Any great shopping tips or secrets that anyone out there would like to share? Got a favorite store? A favorite brand? Something you absolutely, positively can't live without despite the cost? Let me hear from you - all comments are happily accepted.

Oh - and just so you're prepared - there are only 133 shopping days 'til Christmas .... groan!

P.S., In case you're wondering, the only thing I got for myself was a bottle of Aleve and some water to wash a few down - woohoo!

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  1. Well...let's see - my favorite store is any Army/Navy Surplus store I can find. Don't laugh, I've found some pretty good deals at some of these places. No, I don't mean on rocket-launchers and M-16's (although that'd be really cool!). I mean on "normal" things like T-shirts, pants, and even a back-pack. I spent $95.00 on an old Army "Alice Pak" to go camping with. My wife spent over $200.00 on her "mainstream" back-pack from a sporting-goods store. Besides, some of the older stuff they have in certain A/N Surplus stores are neat to look at, like a trip to a mini-museum (that is until my wife comments that the "older stuff" looks alot like what I was issued once upon a time...looonng ago!) So, if you have the time and inclination, check out the Army/Navy Store nearest you - you may be in for a bargain surprise!

  2. Anonymous1:13 PM EDT

    hah! I,for one, love my boots thank you very much!

  3. You didn't quite collapse, but came very close! LOL I had a great time shopping with you ladies and hopefully we can do it again sometime. Of course only when we have coupons and can get some GWP's
    Remind me to look for the backpack for Amanda, it's purple I think and padded, able to haul many books and "stuff", gently used guaranteed to get the hauler A's and B's!


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