I have often toyed with the idea of being a professional personal shopper, and one of these days I am going to print up some cards and start up my own little business. After all, I already do it for many of my friends who ask, and even for some who don’t. It is what I do best, or at least what i do most. LOL So, when you do as much shopping as I do, you are bound to pick up a few tips and tricks along the way.
1. Shop all the time: I don’t mean literally, of course. Okay, maybe I do. But what I really mean is to buy something when you see it, even if you don’t need it at that moment. The best buys are the ones that come when you don’t need them. I always stock up on cute toys and crafts when they are on clearance, party favors and treasure box surprises at the dollar section at Target, cocktail dresses and sweaters in the middle of summer, bathing suits and gauzy coverups in January, etc. I keep extra toys and gifts in a closet so that I never have to run out for a last minute birthday gift, and rarely – although this year was the exception – do I buy a dress with a specific party in mind. Usually, I have an unworn cocktail dress or two at the ready for the next social occasion.
2. Plan ahead, when possible: Early this fall, I knew that I had Lola’s class Halloween party, Eva’s class Christmas party, and Eva’s class birthday party coming up, so I placed one order at Oriental Trading and had the next couple of months covered.
3. Know what to Buy an Outlet, and What to Avoid: My favorite outlets are the department store ones, like Last Call (now online – yippee!) and the Rack. They are a great source for authentic designer merchandise at deep discounts. I always hit the outlets for great deals on tees from my favorite lines, like Theory, Splendid, Michael Stars and James Perse, classic sweaters, cocktail attire, children’s clothes, and timeless bags and shoes. Skip them for super-trendy items, because by the time they make it to the outlet, they are on their way out. Also be wary of some outlets, like J. Crew and Kate Spade, which feature outlet specific merchandise. I’d rather wait for the store sales than buy something that was never intended for sale at a regular store.
4. Get organized Before the Post-holiday Sales: Have a wish list in mind, and as soon as the sales go online, you should too. Knowing what you want and being able to act immediately is essential if you want to land a good deal. If you are willing to wait, the post-Christmas sales are a great way to stock up on holiday decor, toys, holiday clothes, and practically anything else you can imagine. This is a great time to buy next year’s Christmas portrait outfits for the family, for example. And while you are at it, schedule those Christmas photo shoots for the summer, before the insanity of fall kicks in.
5. Shop with Friends: It may not always be possible to physically coordinate shopping outings together (although nothing is more fun than the occasional shopping spree with girlfriends!), but anytime you can think of what your friends are looking for/need, do it. Offer to pick up an extra gift for a friend whose child is attending the same birthday party as yours, grab some wipes or diapers when you are at Target or milk at the grocery store, or text a friend on the way to a store to see if you can grab something for them. And if you see something you think a friend will love, take a picture and text it to her. Another way to coordinate. Check to see if a friend is placing an order for something from a favorite catalog an order together to save on shipping or to take advantage of special offers. My sister and I do this all the time!