Read This & Save A Bundle

Where to go, what to buy, and how to outfit your wardrobe, your home, and your life without going broke.



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Chain Reaction

Big box, big savings. ’Nuff said.

Christmas Tree Shops—This Cape Cod-based chain’s strongest suit is its seasonal offerings, but the store’s best-kept secret is its (no pun intended) evergreen merchandise: toys, housewares, ready-to-assemble furniture. Hartsdale.

Harmon Discount—This Bed Bath & Beyond offshoot sells brand-name cosmetics, beauty products, and over-the-counter health items at rock-bottom prices. Hartsdale, New Rochelle, Yonkers.

Home Depot—This giant offers inexpensive tools and materials for home renovation or repair projects. New Rochelle, Port Chester, Yonkers.

If it’s good enough for Martha...the Martha Stewart bedding collection at KMart.

Kmart—This venerable discount chain has expanded its purchasing power and offerings after its merger with Sears. Its name brands (Martha Stewart and Jaclyn Smith, anyone?) are sold at remarkably low price points. White Plains.

 

Target—“Tar-zhay” has carved out a niche for itself by redefining shabby chic and claiming the upscale end of the discount spectrum. Mount Kisco, Mount Vernon, White Plains.

Walmart—This discount giant leverages its behemoth size and purchasing strength to pass along every cent it can squeeze out of the retail process (including its employee pay and benefits). White Plains.

 

[First Person]

Photo by John Fortunato

“I’m an Educated Consumer”
Former retail buyer Karen Cohen of Chappaqua

I’m an educated consumer. Because of my retail background, I know when stuff will be on sale. For shoes, I like the sales at Neiman’s and Saks and the ones at Richard’s in Greenwich.

I read the Home section of the New York Times every Thursday—it lists great deals. I’m a big fan of warehouse sales—I bought a beautiful fabric needlepoint tapestry fabric at the annual sale at Brunschwig & Fils for close to eighty percent off and used it to reupholster three couches. And I saved over fifty percent off the Stark carpeting in my bedroom at a big home-furnishings sale at the County Center. Then there’s this great Juliska warehouse sale twice a year in Stamford; they make beautiful dishes and glasses and they had some hanging light fixtures I really wanted for my kitchen that never went on sale. I went with a friend to keep her company, and I was able to buy three of them for the price of one. It ended up costing me more to have them hung than the actual cost of the fixtures.

One of my best deals ever were these stainless-steel countertops I had to have for my kitchen. I knew what retail establishments charged for them and I wasn’t going to pay that. So I worked with my contractor and we found a restaurant supplier without a fancy showroom and ordered it from them. I got a substantial bargain. I rarely get burned.

I also like to shop online. I like onekingslane.com for very high-end designer merchandise. I’ve bought Barbara Barry sheets and linens at sixty to seventy percent off and I paid ninety dollars for a Michael Aram cake plate that normally sells for over two hundred. Other good sites are giltgroup.com and hautelook.com. I don’t shop vintage stores that much, but I really like Elegance II in Chappaqua and the Penny Pincher in Bedford Hills.

My advice for someone who wants to become a better bargain hunter? First, do your homework—say, for a cashmere blanket, is it a one-, two-, or four-ply that you want? Then look in stores, online, and in catalogues to find out how much what you want normally sells for—so that when it goes on sale, you’ll know whether you’re getting a good price. And go to tag sales and local community arts and crafts fairs; there are some good values out there. Also, get friendly with certain salespeople so that they’ll let you know about sales.

So is there anything I’d pay full price for? Shoes.

 

[First Person]

Photo by Audra Napolitano

“I’m a Bargain Hunter”
Emily Haft Bloom of Chappaqua, editor and researcher for a consulting firm

The fact that I like a good deal doesn’t mean I’m cheap; it just means that I’m not foolish enough to spend more than I need to. I’m a bargain hunter. My grandmother, who was always elegantly attired, used to take me for special days shopping at Loehmann’s starting when I was about twelve. She definitely planted the seed that you don’t have to pay full price to look great. She influenced me to believe that only lazy people don’t take the time to find a good deal. I save at least three-thousand dollars a year.

Why would you spend one-hundred dollars on something when you can get it for forty? About ten years ago, I bought a Toyota Land Cruiser from a wholesaler whose ad I saw in the New York Times and saved five-thousand dollars off the sticker price. We still have it.

I won’t drive an hour and a half to Woodbury Commons—my time is worth more than that—and I don’t do discount stores; I only shop off-price. Discount stores like Kohl’s, Target, and Walmart carry stuff of lesser quality—lines that are made for that store—while off-price stores like TJ Maxx buy up inventory from department stores and sell it at a discount. I bought a pair of True Religion jeans at TJ Maxx for sixty-nine dollars that were selling for two-hundred and twenty-five up the street in Bedford Hills. I got a pair of Dalmatian-print Kate Spade rain boots there for thirty-nine dollars that I’ve seen elsewhere for one-hundred and ten. And I bought a shearling coat at Daffy’s that I only paid ninety-nine dollars for, and I still get compliments on it. And I love the ABC outlet in the Bronx. They have amazing Italian linens, wool rugs, furniture, and ceramics.

It’s not just the stores you shop at but also the timing. I’ll hit Hickory and Tweed in August and get great values. And I shop online. I’m a big fan of tenniswarehouse.com and midwestsports.com for tennis clothing, rei.com and campmore.com for camp equipment, and bluefly.com for shoes.

There’s an element of snobbery against bargain-hunting; people don’t want to be seen at TJ Maxx. I run into Seema Boesky there more than anyone else. I think people who say they don’t shop at TJ Maxx or Loehmann’s because it’s yucky are foolish. What’s the upside of shopping at a department store instead? A glossy shopping bag to take home?