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Shopping Savvy: How To Spend Less But Get More For Your Money

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By Mia Bolaris-Foget

Most of us have heard the term shabby chic, but very few of us proficient at achieving it. In fact, experts agree that there’s an art to shopping for antiques (aka: other people’s junk), at garage sales or even at flea markets.

According to experts, success is all about the skill of the hunt and strategic planning.

· Ready, Set, Shop: Before heading out on a shopping spree it’s imperative that you are well prepared. Know not only what you need but also how much space you have, and always have a measuring tape handy. Experts also suggest carrying a magnifying glass to help you identify (potentially important) markings on jewelry, china, etc. Bring your own shopping bag (and/or cart) for carrying/transportation ease and think about having bubble wrap on hand to wrap delicate items. A pen and notepad are also suggested to log expenditures and to take note on other items you may fancy…and of course don’t bring plastic, bring cash instead, preferably in small bills.

· Comfort Clothes: Choose your ensemble wisely. While you may want to look your best, remember, looking like a million may cost you a million. How much you have to spend should be nobody’s business but your own. Your wardrobe should be unobtrusive and understated. Professionals also recommend dressing in layers. They note that most flea markets (and garage sales) are outdoors and weather could be cooler in the earlier or later parts of the day.

· Bargain Jargon: Not only will you need to (dress appropriately) to walk the walk, but also you’ll need to learn to talk the talk…and the lingo is mostly that of wheeling and dealing. Haggling or negotiating (to be more pc) is part of the process, anticipated and expected. Your best strategy is to avoid any inference or reference to price. Instead ask for the best price possible followed by “can you do a little better for me” Remain firm and never let them see you sweat, call the seller’s bluff, even walk away if you have to. Remember to ask for a multi-purchase discount when buying more than one item.

· Spend The Day: Remember what they say about the early bird. Well, it apparently holds true for the bird that is also willing to put in some overtime. Merchants are often eager to peddle their wares and go home, which means they are there as soon as the market opens and sometimes sooner. For the finest finds, get there early and stay late. By the end of the day many vendors are anxious to unload their merchandise, which may mean a better deal for you.

· Value Deals: The best deals are made by knowing the true value of the item. It’s quite common for people to overpay for something simply because it’s labeled as a clearance or sale item, when in reality they can get a better deal (at full price) somewhere else. So, besides knowing where to shop you must know what to buy and what it’s worth. Experts suggest bringing a flashlight to inspect obscure places such as backs of drawers or underneath items. If you notice lots of “damage” (which translates into lots of (other) expenses and work), you’ve just added another “bargaining” too to your repertoire.

· Knowledge Is Power: Be an educated consumer. Do your homework and get the scoop on what you are shopping for. Also, compare prices and availability via the net and other practical venues.

· Get Real: Know how to identify the Real Deal. Experts note that antiques are easy to reproduce and “authenticate”. Bona fide items will show some signs of wear but beware of labels; most original pieces won’t have them.

Long Island Home & Lifestyle Articles > Shopping Savvy: How To Spend Less But Get More For Your Money

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