Saturday, January 24, 2009

9 Tips for Shopping the Clearance Section in 2009

If there is one thing I like, it is a deal. Throughout my life I've had varying degrees of disposable income, but no matter what my situation, I have a hard time buying something that isn't a deal even if money isn't a concern at the time. And now that the rest of the country seems to agree with me, I've created a list of tips for those of you making your first trip to the clearance section of your favorite store.

1. Approach the Rack with a Plan. Clearance racks are often overwhelming to people because all they see is a mass of different clothes thrown together without much organization. However, there is a system you can use to get through the rack efficiently. Before approaching the rack know what colors you like and what season you are looking for. If you know you like green and are looking for summer clothes, scan the rack first for short sleeves and then for color. Start scanning the rack...long sleeves, long sleeves, long sleeves, short sleeve. Ohh Short sleeves, check color - orange? Nope? keep going. long sleeves, long sleeves, short sleeves - check color - green? Yes, check price? Yes - ok, lets try it on. Use this method to quickly get through a rack of clearance items.

2. Shop off season - really off season
Most people know that you can get good deals on summer stuff at the end of August/Beginning of September. But you can REALLY get a good deal on summer stuff in November and December. So be patient and wait.

3. Don't forget online stores. Often people think that clearance deals can only be found offline, but if you buy off season at places like you can find some really good deals. Look for boots in June, swimsuits in November, you get the picture. Do a search for "[store name] coupons" and find some coupons for an additional amount off or free shipping. Check Craig's List for items you want. Just make sure to use the keywords "new" or "NWT." Try a service that can watch Craig's List for you this is a great way to find new items for a fraction of what you would pay in the stores.

4. Pick a few stores and track. There are some stores that you know you like. Visit these stores, sign-up for their email newsletters and take the time to learn how and when they mark things down. If you get to know the employees, ask them to shoot you an email when things go on sale.

5. Don't stick to your usual size. I usually wear a size 6 pant and medium top. However, I will scan the clearance racks one size up and one size down. There are two reasons to do this. 1. Items that are your size easily get misplaced in these areas and 2. clothes don't always run true to size. I recently bought an extra small sweatshirt (for $4 at Target) and a size 4 pants (for $5 at Gap). Not because I'd lost weight but because the manufacturer had obviously messed up the sizing of the item and made them too big for people who usually wear the size.

6. Don't be afraid to get your clothes altered. Pants especially. If you find a pair of pants that you like in your size, but they are too long. Buy them and pay the $7 - $10 it costs to get them hemmed. Most dry cleaners can do it for you.

7. Shop often. This may be too big of a temptation for some, but shop often and only buy when your deal fits that bargain. I have a general rule when shopping at my my kids I don't pay more than $5 per item (dresses excluded). My kids wear mostly brand-name clothing and this limit has served me well. If they offer good deals and exclusive offers sign-up for their brand credit card. If there is no annual fee and you pay off the balance every month you will save additional money.

8. Don't judge a book by it's cover. Don't rule out pricey stores because you think they won't have deals. I often find that "discount" retailers have less deals than department and name brand stores. I often find shirts, jackets, skirts, etc have higher clearance prices at Target than at Gap or Macy's.

9. Know the management. Many local and even national stores have flexibility in setting their sale prices. Find out which locations close to you are more generous in their markdown pricing strategies.

Recently, I was shopping at Gap (not the outlet) and for $5 I got a bikini for myself ($1 for each piece), a pair of shoes for my daughter ($1), a halter top for myself ($1) and a sweater camisole ($1). 5 Name brand items for $5, not bad! Bargain shopping is anything but boring.

Please add any tips you have.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Southeastern Michigan Organic Resources

If I have personally used one of the businesses listed below, there is a little * next to the listing. This list is a work in progress. PLEASE email me (j m a g r o  @  g m a i l . c o m) if you have a business to add to this list.

Thomas Organic Creamery (you can also find them at the Royal Oak Farmer's Market)
Listing of places to purchase a share of a cow if you prefer unpasteurized milk in Michigan.

Creswick Farms (* Love them because you can buy their meat by the pound, you don't have to buy a whole portion of the cow.  And it is excellent)
Old Pine Farm (Meat CSA)
Heart Healthy Natural Beef
East River Organic Farm

Maple Creek Farm (*Member 2006 and 2009 Seasons)
Nature's Pace Organics (* from the Rochester Farmer's Market)
Blue Water Organics (* from the Rochester Farmer's Market)
Locavorious (Winter CSA in Ann Arbor)
East River Organic Farm

Eden Organics (* buy online or in stores)
Organic by the Case

Mind, Body & Spirits - *Certified Organic
Pure Food 2 U - Healthy Food Delivered already prepared to your door

Edible Wow

Nutritionist / Medical
Nourish MD

Online Resources
Local Harvest - Not a Michigan based company, but you can use the website to search for specific products in your area of the state.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Full Disclosure

This is my personal blog.

Occasionally I do product reviews.  Most of these reviews are on products I have paid for myself.  A handful of them are from products that have been given to me free of charge.

Here are the products I have received for free:
Organic Valley Butter
Organic Valley Hot Dogs
Organic Valley Canadian Bacon
Organic Valley Ground Beef

I spend a lot of time on this blog.  To compensate my time, I participate in affiliate programs.  If you buy a product from a company I am an affiliate for, I make a small percentage of the sale.  I am currently an affiliate for:
The Land of Nod
Mix My Granola
Frontier Co-Op
Door to Door Organics
Greensbury Market

I currently have ads from Google Adwords on my website and receive a very small amount of money for every ad that is clicked on.

I make every effort to not let the free products I receive or the affiliate relationships I have influence my opinions on the products I am reviewing.  I would never recommend a product that I wouldn't use myself.  Any post that has an affiliate link or mentions a product I have received for free after October 6, 2009 has been labeled Disclosure

I make claims about what I think is healthy on my site.  These are entirely my own views.  I am not a medical professional and you should consult with what you consider a trusted source.

If you have any questions, you can contact me at jmagro at gmail . com

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