Breaking The Spell Of The Sale

The Shopper

Does your heart beat faster when you walk into J. C. Penneys and see racks of winter dresses with big red Clearance signs?

Do you leaf through the Sunday paper sale flyers with a sense of eagerness and anticipation?

Do you think that a Buy one and another half price offer is really a bargain?

If you answered yes to these questions, you are under the spell of the sale, a spell woven by retailers to lure you into buying things you never thought you needed, and in some cases never even wanted.

When I was a kid, I once found my Aunt Mary walking wincingly around the living room in a pair of thick athletic socks and delicate white high-heeled strappy sandals. She had bought the shoes at a great discount even though they were a size too small. She was trying to stretch them out in time for a special date. After suffering through that date, she never wore the sandals again. How foolish, I thought at the time, I’ll never buy stuff just because it’s on sale.

But I was wrong. I too have at times come under that spell of the sale. Even free gifts can lead to extra expense.

A friend once gave me scads of leftover yarn. Since there wasn’t enough of any yarn to make a complete garment, I searched yarn stores for just the right complementary or contrasting skeins. Caught up in looking for the “right” yarn, expense was no object, and I spent more than I would have spent on yarn for a whole sweater because I wanted just the “right” thing, no matter how expensive. Once a friend gave me a skirt, and I bought a blazer that I wouldn’t otherwise have bought, just to make use of the gift.

I have tried to resist the “buy one and get one for half price” sales. If I only need one, why should I buy the second? But the clerk looks at me as if I don’t understand basic arithmetic: Who can pass up such a bargain? I know I’ll save 25% if I buy two items, but it is cheaper not to buy the unneeded second item at all. It might make sense if you are buying shoes for your twins, or can give the extra purchase as a gift.

To counteract the spell of the sale, here are a few chants I use:

  • Nothing on sale is a bargain if I didn’t plan to buy it anyway.
  • Nothing on sale is a bargain if I don’t need it or won’t use it.
  • Nothing on sale is a bargain if I must buy two of them.
  • Nothing on sale is a bargain if it doesn’t really fit.

 Next time you find yourself falling under the spell, try chanting these reminders.

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