Saturday, May 26, 2012

Out of Season Bargains

I used to be known for my quality yard sales. My neighbors would actually start asking in mid-June when I was going to have a yard sale. I made sure everything was top-of-the-line as opposed to looking like something I pulled out of the basement. I didn’t do broken, stained or torn items, and yet I noticed people would not touch a parka in the summer. We live in the snow belt where there is a guarantee of snow every year.

If you can visualize six months in advance then you can shop out of season. Items you should buy out of season because the clearance prices are amazing.

*Coats, sweaters, gloves, and boots

*Snow shovels and snow blowers

*Pool floats, grills, and camping equipment

*Snow skis, snow shoes, sleds

* Seasonal decorations as long as that season has just passed

* Valentines and egg dye

*Gifts sets-are a great deal after Christmas and Mother’s Day

*Storage boxes/units (These go on sale in January, but go down in price until August where the price goes back up for college-bound students.)

*Have a college bound student. Do not buy supplies in the months of July-September when everything is at its highest. Stores in the college town often jump up prices on needed items for college such as dorm fridges or under the bed storage organizers.

* Pickling and salsa packs, canning jars, and Sure Gel. Come July, they’ll be full price and in short supply.

*Liquor—all though there isn’t too much off season. Champagne is on sale after New Year’s. Flavored liqueurs go on sale about the same time. You can store wine for years, if stored on its side.

* School supplies go on sale in July. Trust me as a parent and a teacher you will never be able to buy pencils or pencil sharpeners for a penny the rest of the year.

* Towels and sheets. Towels are always a popular shower gift in neutral colors

*Specialty picture frames- make sure that there is no actual year date on it.


*Most foods because they do expire (unless canned)

*Clothing or shoes for a growing child. You never know what size they might be in six months.

*foundation/cosmetics-skin tones change, as do personal tastes

*vitamins—unless the date is really far into the future

*any popular toy you think your child will love. In six month they will have forgotten their love affair with said toy and moved onto something else.

The best way to decide if something is a good out of season deal is to ask yourself these three questions. Did you use it or something similar in the past? Is it something you will need like a coat or a snow shovel? Is it something you always wanted but could not justify the expense? Then it is a good deal. Make sure it isn’t broken or opened. Often things on clearance are damaged. There is a reason they write AS IS across the box.

Always check the clearance section or back end caps to see what has been moved to clearance. Often people sell items they don’t need at bargain basement prices because they are moving into an apartment or another climate zone. Winter will come, just like summer shows up every year.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Yes, it does, but not always in the way you think it might. My sister took me to Paneras restaurant for my birthday. This casual sandwich shop offers the option of eating off real china or taking your dinner home in Styrofoam. We stated twice that we were eating there. When our order was called, it was packaged to go. I told the staffer who simply shrugged her shoulders. The manager asked why we were eating salad out of Styrofoam to go boxes. I told her a mistake had been made. She said it was too late to do anything about it. Too late, is it ever too late to provide good service?

I told my friend whose husband manages restaurants. Complain to corporate she insisted, and I did by going online.  I received a personal apology from the manager, plus a gift card. I also got a follow-up call from corporate. The end result was that I returned to Paneras several times since then with family members. It paid off not only for me, but for the restaurant too. I’d have probably gone elsewhere without the follow up apology and refund.

Another restaurant where I lodged a complaint was Ruth Chris Steakhouse.  For the prices they charge, I was amazed at our poor treatment.  We had reservations, but were made to wait when tables were available. Service was slow. It was the equivalent of mentally slogging through quicksand to get appropriate treatment. We cut dinner short because we didn’t need further aggravation. The shrieking toddler who had screamed for ninety minutes didn’t help either. I approached corporate with my complaint. I received a voicemail from the manager who never returned my calls despite the fact, I called him back at various times. Did complaining work ? In one way it did, I felt better. It also allowed me to mark Ruth Chris off as a possible dining destination. That’s okay because there are plenty of places I can go that are better, and in turn will treat me well.

Most places will give you fair treatment regarding merchandise and treatment. They realize people talk more when they get bad treatment as opposed to good treatment. Some people even blog about it. Don’t be afraid to complain. You’ve already received bad service, shoddy or wrong merchandise. You really have nothing to lose.