Can You Resist a Bargain?

September 21, 2007 at 2:43 AM 7 comments

Lately I’ve found myself scrounging along the sales racks of stores looking for bargains. When I head to Target I look along the end of the isle for the clearance items. In the grocery store I search through the table of dented cans and in the department store I head directly to the back of the store. The problem: I often don’t need the items in the bargain bins. Yesterday is a perfect example. I went to Macy’s to return a damaged item. When I got to the checkout line there were already four people waiting in line in front of me. So rather than waste time standing around I decided to stroll about the store looking for bargains.

In the Macy’s near my home the dress department and the children’s department are right next to each other. So after looking through the sale items in the dress department I ventured over to the clearance rack in the children’s section. I don’t have children of my own but I figured it couldn’t hurt to look for items for my niece and nephew. I’ve gotten my niece some adorable outfits on sale at Macy’s. I didn’t see anything worth purchasing in the children’s section but a shopper in the baby section beckoned me over. “Which one of these do you think is cuter?”, she asked, holding up two baby outfits. The woman was holding a blue outfit in one hand and a pink outfit in the other. I thought she might be color blind so I asked who the gift was intended for. “No one,” she told me, “but someone is always having a baby and this deal is too good to resist.” As I reached the parking lot a few minutes later I bumped into the woman again. She pulled the baby outfits out of the shopping bag. “I couldn’t resist,” she said, “I bought the one you liked plus four other outfits.”

In this case the woman purchased five outfits for $25. The retail price was originally $20 per outfit. So she purchased five outfits for a little over the price of one. But does it make sense for someone without children or any planned baby showers to purchase five baby outfits? If you were in the same situation would you have purchased the baby clothes? Is it a bargain to purchase something for which there is no foreseeable need?

I will admit that I have purchased bargain items on far too many occasions. In fact, when a Toys-R-Us store went out of business in our area I bought a whole host of items that were marked down 80%. The same occurred when a Hallmark store went out of business in our area. But on both of those occasions I bought items to give as gifts for known family members. On one hand it seems silly to purchase items without a foreseeable need on the other hand it’s difficult to resist the bargain.

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. bluntmoney  |  September 21, 2007 at 3:19 AM

    I wouldn’t buy things just because they were good deals, unless I thought I could resell them at a higher price. (For instance, I bought a clarinet for $20 and resold it for $100, when I had no need for a clarinet.) Bargains are only bargains if you’ll actually use them 🙂

  • 2. beth  |  September 21, 2007 at 3:42 AM

    The only way I can see that being a worthwhile purchase for that woman is if she has a large social circle that currently is in the child-baring years. In my workplace, there are a lot of young women. One fairly large department constantly has at least one person out on maternity leave. If I worked in that department, I’d probably be constantly on the lookout for baby bargains for the inevitable baby showers.

    I don’t work in that department, I don’t have that many friends in a position to be having children, so I have no stock of baby clothes.

  • 3. Kimbery  |  September 21, 2007 at 5:23 AM

    I buy all sorts of crap I don’t need because it’s a good deal. I’ve actually gotten better about not doing this (especially with food) but I still buy stuff I don’t need usually thinking I will resell it on Ebay but that doesn’t always happen. I end up giving a lot of stuff away … either way, it’s fun to find a deal and very hard to resist.

  • 4. Bobbie  |  September 22, 2007 at 1:08 PM

    I always like to keep my money in my pocket so I would never buy these items unless I was sure I would need them.

  • 5. Anonymous  |  September 25, 2007 at 2:14 PM

    I just fell victim to this yesterday at CVS. I am addicted to CVS and those damn extra bucks and the weekly circulars that tempt me with they’re devilish deals….

    Yesterday I went in for an 8 roll pack of paper towels — on sale for $4.99 from the usual price of $7.49. Well, instead of just walking my happy ass directly over to the register, I cruised through a couple of aisles and noticed the Sunlight dishwashing liquid on sale for 88 cents. And then there was a bottle of Advil PM for $1.99. I grabbed one of each and headed to the register. Sure, both of those extra items were great deals, but HELLO — I don’t need medicine to help me fall asleep and I have four bottles of dishwashing liquid already occupying space underneath my sink. I need help!! 🙂

  • 6. frugal zeitgeist  |  September 28, 2007 at 12:46 PM

    Heh. “. . . walking my happy ass. . .” That made me laugh.

    I definitely do this with things I know I’ll use, like shampoo or canned tomatoes. I don’t do it with gifts. My family all agreed to stop gift-giving for Christmas and holidays; among friends, I’d rather target the (affordable) gift to the person than just buy things and give them out when the opportunity arises. Besides, living in New York, there just isn’t room to store a lot of stuff.

  • 7. Andrew  |  October 4, 2007 at 5:37 PM

    I do that alll the time. If there’s a great bargain and it’s something we would use (even if we don’t normally get it), I will totally buy it just to get the satisfaction of the great bargain.


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