Shopping Globally

A byproduct of my foray into the world of retro dressing is that I am now shopping globally in a way I never could have imagined. When I first started buying 50s-style clothing, all of my purchases were from US-based companies (mostly Pinup Girl Clothing and Unique Vintage), even if some of the brands were international. But as I’ve built up my wardrobe, I’ve started shopping directly with some of those international companies (like Erstwilder), and have discovered some others (Splendette and Miss Candyfloss are favorites), along the way. Take this outfit for example…the dress is from a Swedish designer (but purchased from a store in Holland), the bangles, necklace, and brooch were all ordered from the UK, and the handbag, like many of my other brooches, was shipped from Australia! The idea of ordering from a company outside of the US used to be intimidating to me, but now it’s second nature (and a lot of times, the various businesses offer free shipping, so it’s not even any more expensive!).

I really like that I’m shopping around the world…it makes my already unique wardrobe feel a little more one-of-a-kind. I will say that it’s a little disconcerting that my wardrobe is more well-traveled than I am, though!

Not Part of the Family?

The Cardinals team store online, as part of a larger MLB shops promotion, is advertising 20% off select tees and fleece for the whole family.

Great! There’s a long-sleeve t-shirt in the women’s plus department that I’ve had my eye on, but didn’t want to buy at full price. Time to shop!

But, when I go to check out the sale, that shirt is not included. OK, fine. It’s not all tees and fleece, I get that. (The exact same shirt, which has the exact same regular price, in the misses section is on sale, but I digress.)  But, upon closer inspection, I realize that not one single women’s plus-size shirt is included in the sale. Not one. Men have options, even big and tall men. Boys and girls are both covered. Plus size women, though? Guess we’re just out of luck. Maybe we just don’t count as part of the “whole” family.

The only other group left out is the infant/toddler/preschooler crowd, and given that there aren’t even t-shirts or fleece available in most of those sizes, that’s understandable. But not having one plus-size shirt that the “family” sale applies to? Now we’re just bordering on size discrimination!

Guess I’ll just go stand in the corner with the other kids not cool enough to shop with MLB.

Shopping at Schnucks

Since I blogged about the new Dierbergs yesterday, I thought I’d give Schnucks their due, too. They have also opened a new store, just down the street from Dierbergs, and in many ways they’re very similar, to the point where I have to wonder how competing stores know to include the same features when they’re being constructed at the same time!

Like Dierbergs, this Schnucks also has an upstairs eating/seating area as well as a cooking school. I think that in general, Dierbergs wins in this department. The views of the store from the Dierbergs mezzanine are pretty incredible (there’s something unique about seeing all of those rows of grocery shelves and neatly arranged produce from above!), but you don’t see a whole lot from the upper level at Schnucks. They do have this very lovely fireplace, though, which is a nice touch!


There’s a cafe at the Schnucks, as well as a bakery, olive bar, and sushi bar, all features shared by Dierbergs. I did think that the chilled wine and cheese room was a nice touch…as a matter of fact the whole wine/liquor area was pretty impressive!


Everything else was fairly standard upscale grocery store, complete with yet another meal’s worth of samples. The children definitely prefer the cookies Schnucks gives out to kids over the Dierbergs variety, and I love that there’s a Kaldi’s Coffee right there in the store. No vermaport/parking garage at Schnucks, though, which gives Dierbergs a major bonus! I love watching carts go down an escalator!

It’s fun to walk around such nice, bright, new grocery stores, especially when you’re used to mingling with the masses at Walmart!

The Dierbergs Difference

A few times over the last month, we’ve stopped in at the new Dierbergs in the area. The first time, it was mostly out of curiosity, partly because I’d heard it was nice, and partly because they have a vermaport, which I’m a big fan of! And it was nice, so much so that the children kept begging to go back (they’re weird like me). This isn’t really feasible, because it’s all the way out in West County, but we did find ourselves out that way a few times doing holiday shopping, so we hopped in whenever we passed by.


It’s very different from most grocery stores, at least that I’ve been to. The biggest difference is the second floor “Mezz,” which has a bar/eating area, seating that overlooks the store, and the Dierbergs School of Cooking.


The store has many other amenities as well, from the simple (a giant trail mix bar), to the elaborate (a made to order sushi bar). There’s a nice bakery, specialty food items, a florist, pharmacy, and urgent care center in the store as well. One of the children’s favorite things about this store are the samples around every corner…they tried ice cream, pizza, cheese, dips, cookies, and probably some other stuff I’m not remembering. You can truly eat lunch there, just wandering around and running into different samples!

I wish we had a store this nice near us…I think that would be all it would take to break me of my nasty Walmart habit!

Wal-Mart Redux

Despite the insanity that was shopping at Wal-Mart yesterday, I discovered I had to go back there today, because someone, (me), forgot to put laundry soap and shampoo on the grocery list. As much I didn’t want to go to Wal-Mart, I really think that clean clothes and clean hair are important at Christmas, (OK, they’re important all the time, but especially as Christmas), so I gathered my courage and off I went.

I found most of what I needed to buy, (there’s always that one missing item that forces you to also stop at the grocery store, again, right?) and headed for the check-out. I was hoping that this would be a quick process, because I had three other stores, including the grocery, to stop at. I suppose that hoping for efficiency was my fatal flaw…

I only had three items, so they were rung up quickly. I swiped my card, and it was promptly declined. This ranks up there as one of the most embarrassing things that can happen to you in a busy store, especially in a busy store at Christmastime, when everyone in line behind you is also in a hurry and impatient. I didn’t have another card to use, because we just switched banks, and I haven’t activated my new debit card yet, (thanks to the fact that I somehow lost the first one, despite having never even put it in my wallet, and had to order a replacement, which I just received), so I had to abandon my purchase at the register and leave the store.

Once I was out of the hustle and bustle that it is requisite of Wal-Mart, I called the bank, because the only other time I’ve had a card declined was when a fraud alert was put on it, and it turned out someone had stolen our credit card number. I was worried that this happened again, and terrified for what that might mean for the rest of the shopping I hoped to finish without stopping at home first to get my new card. Once I got through the maze that is the automated phone system, I was connected to “Bob” who was obviously in India, who said he would be happy to help me.

I explained the situation to him, and as he checked the account, he told me that there was not transaction at Wal-Mart at all, much less one that had been declined. What? I really think he assumed I must have had a different card declined, and I was calling the wrong bank, but as I only had the one card in my wallet, I knew what I was doing. He was completely baffled, and finally said that the only thing he could think of was that there was something wrong with the machine at the store, and that I should go back in and try again.

I was dreading going back in the store, lest the same thing happen again, but I followed his advice, and with no problems, so it was clearly a problem on Wal-Mart’s end. Still, it would have been nice to avoid the embarrassment in the first place, and not have to go through the store twice, (why can’t the items I need ever be in the same general area of the Super Center?), especially since this particular shopping insanity wasn’t even my fault. Well, except, for the reason I had to go in the store in the first place. I guess the blame for that is my responsibility.

Hopefully I’ll be able to stay out of the stores until at least…let’s go with December 27. That’s the goal, anyway. That way, I can avoid any further pre-Christmas insanity!

The Crazy Person in Wal-Mart

I’ll be honest right up front and admit it…the crazy person I’m referring to is me!

Let’s face it, going to Wal-Mart during Christmas week is no one’s cup of tea. But I gathered my courage, and headed out to go grocery shopping today, not only because I needed the supplies for our Christmas dinner, but because we’ve become accustomed to eating in general. I didn’t make it there as early as I would have liked, but I did still get to the store before lunch, and the parking lot wasn’t terrible, so I was hopeful…

It started out OK. Some things were more expensive than I was expecting, (oranges, I’m looking at you), which was annoying, but not terrible. And then I discovered that they were out of stock on a few key items I needed for recipes, (how do you run out of peppermint mocha creamer at this time of year?), so I came to the realization that I’d also have to stop at the grocery store. It was at that point that my mood began to sour, I guess.

You know how when you’re in a routine, going up and down each aisle, you begin to realize that you’re crossing paths with the same person, going the opposite direction, in every aisle? Well, I quickly came to that realization about a lady that was shopping at the same time as me, but when I say we “crossed paths,” what I really mean is that I waited for her to move out of the way in every aisle. Because she’s one of that special breed of shopper that needs to leave her cart in the middle of each aisle as she searches the shelves, peruses her list, and talks to some long-lost acquaintance that she just happened to run into. I kept hoping that eventually our shopping would fall out of sync, and I’d have the aisle, (at least my side of it), free and clear, but no such luck. She even got into the check-out lane next to me! Weird.

The real trouble didn’t start, however, until I got to the canned meat aisle. Ryan asked for canned tuna for his lunches this week, so I dutifully squatted down, (why must they keep those tiny cans on the bottom shelf?!?), to get a few cans. But, I must be more pregnant than I thought, because I almost didn’t make it back up! I’m sure the other shoppers must have gotten a chuckle at the crazy pregnant woman trying to get to her feet without making a bigger fool of herself…at least maybe I brightened someone’s shopping experience!

I didn’t really start to lose it until the toy department. I don’t even know what possessed me to go back there–I wasn’t actually looking for anything in particular. Just morbidly curious, I guess. But as I was wandering down one of the aisles, the inevitable happened…one of the toys started talking to me. You know, the kind with the motion detectors that launch into their shtick whenever someone goes past? Unfortunately, though, I was deep in thought at the time, and had no idea there were such toys around. So, again, my fellow shoppers probably got a good laugh when I noticeably jumped at the disruption.

Things just kind of fell apart after that. I realized at one point that I was actually talking to myself…out loud. Just a little, but still. When did I become that person?

As I was checking out, a child in a line near mine starting crying that she was hungry. As her mother tried to shush her with promises of lunch at Subway as soon as they paid, I couldn’t help but think I really understood where the little girl was coming from. At this point, I had been in the store for over an hour, (and remember, I still have to stop at a regular grocery store on the way home for the missing items from my list), it was past lunch time, and I was hungry, too! Not a good situation for a pregnant woman!

Then, as I was paying, I realized that the cashier didn’t even bother to card me for the bottle of peppermint schnapps I was buying for our Christmas cake, which I felt weird doing in the first place, because I don’t usually buy liquor when pregnant, and I always feel like the pregnancy police is going to yell at me. But not to even be carded? Then I really did want to cry.

I was quite relieved to finally leave the store, so I could stop making a fool out of myself. As I was putting the groceries in the van, though, I couldn’t help but think that my shopping experience would have been better if they would hand out stickers at the check-out saying, “I survived Christmas 2011 at Wal-Mart,” or something to that effect. Because it really was quite an accomplishment!

Pillow Shopping

You wouldn’t think that buying a new pillow would be a difficult endeavor, would you? Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s next to impossible!

I’ve noticed lately that my neck has been killing me when I get up in the morning, and upon closer inspection, discovered that my pillow is both flat and lumpy, (???), so I figured it was time to purchase a new one. Thus began a tour of every discount and department store in the area.

  • Wal-Mart–The pillows at Wal-Mart felt no firmer than the sad, old one I had waiting at home. Obviously, this was not going to work.
  • Target–This is where my sad, old pillow originated. To be fair, I probably shouldn’t have even bothered looking there–the current pillow is less than a year old, so obviously, it doesn’t hold up all that well. But I do know from experience that the Target pillows are inexpensive, (you get what you pay for, right?), and that they at least start out firm.
  • Kohls–I found a great pillow at Kohls. Firm, nice soft cover, just right. The problem? It’s not available in a king size, (although I did later find out that it can be ordered from their website in king size), and we have a king size bed. So, the pillowcases we have wouldn’t fit it, and the standard/queen size would just look funny, anyway. I did give some brief thought to buying three of the smaller size, hotel style, but then I’d have to get new pillowcases, and then tend to be sold in pairs, so…
  • Macys–Found another great pillow at Macys. Not quite as good as the Kohls one, but close. But, again, no king size available.
  • Bed Bath and Beyond–Plenty of pillows, and in all sizes. The catch? (You knew there had to be one!) All of the good firm pillows cost upwards of $100. There’s just no way I would ever, in any universe, part with that kind of money for a pillow. My neck just isn’t worth it.

I gave up for the day after all those stores, and decided to do a little research on the internet to see where I might find an extra-firm, king-size pillow. I checked Amazon–nothing really noteworthy. I checked Kohls, and I felt slightly encouraged, because, as I mentioned before, the pillow I liked was available in the right firmness and size. I also discovered, however, that it had pretty terrible reviews.

I finally found success at JCPenney’s website. There, I found a pillow that wasn’t too expensive, was available in king-size, and claimed to be the right firmness. The reviews of it were even favorable, and the website claimed that it was also available in stores. So, I printed the $10 off coupon on the website, and planned to head in there in the morning, just in time for the early bird sale.

I wasn’t terribly impressed with the pillow I had found online, but I found another pillow, for the same price, that’s amazing. It claims that it won’t go flat, and has a three-year warranty, (although I’m not really sure what that entails). But it is firm, the cover is soft, and it’s the right size. So, after all that searching, I did finally find a new pillow. I just hope that I don’t have to go through the whole process again any time soon!

Going Out of Business

The Borders “Going Out of Business” sale has got me wondering what it is about those four words that encourage otherwise rational people to start making horrible purchasing decisions.

I was in our local Borders last weekend, just to see what the sale was all about. The e-mail they had sent out stated that there would be deals “up to 40% off.” Now, I’ve seen enough stores go out of business to know not to take this entirely at face value. And I was right. While there was a very select group of items on sale for 40% off, most things were marked down a mere 10%. It was enough to make me want to stand outside the store and shout, “Haven’t you ever heard of” at people as they went in!

Now, if you have a Borders gift card to use, I understand why you’re there, and the markdowns don’t really matter. If you don’t use the gift card soon, you’re just out the money. That’s perfectly logical. That’s not, however, the majority of shoppers I saw there, because there was a lot of credit cards, and even some cash, being used, and there’s a logical fallacy in people charging hundred of dollars worth of stuff that they could have gotten for far cheaper, and without having to stand in a line that reaches the back of the store to boot.

It seems like a form of mob mentality, the way people shop. Drive by your local Borders, while it’s still there, and you’ll see what I mean. The parking lots are jammed–you’d think it’s Christmas. Borders is doing more business right now than they know what to do with. People are swarming the stores, and grabbing armloads of books and other items, seemingly without considering how much they’re spending, just lured in by the prospect of a good deal. They’re standing in line for what seems like an eternity–I’m not kidding when I say the line stretched from the registers at the front, all the way to the children’s section in the very back. And I’ve heard reports from other stores of even longer lines. It’s mass hysteria at its finest, all over a savings just barely greater than the tax rate.

On the flip side, perhaps other struggling stores can learn from this craze over the “everything on sale” sign. If Borders had attempted a sale like this before they went out of business, it just may have generated enough revenue to save them. Clearly, where sales are involved, consumers lose all common sense, and don’t stop to think about how much they’re spending, and how much better they could do elsewhere!

Shopping with Children

No, this isn’t a “I can’t believe how my children acted in the store; I’m never leaving the house again” story. It’s more of a “Taking a child shopping can be one of the greatest things about being a parent,” kind of tale.

I took Turkey to Target today to help him buy his sister a birthday present. This is one of the things I like doing the most–watching one of my children select a present for one of their siblings.

It’s so much fun to watch Turkey shop. First, is how carefully he selects his gift. He started at the dollar spot, moved on to toys, and then looked at books. He takes different things into consideration as he shops: “Will she like it?  Can it break easily? Does it look fun?” I love that he’s such a considerate gift-giver!

Then there’s the issue of generosity. He doesn’t try to buy the cheapest thing possible. As a matter of fact, he’s usually annoyed with himself that he hasn’t saved enough money, (in his opinion), to get something really special. He recently started saving money for a new Lego set that he wants; he didn’t bat an eyelash when the gift he chose to buy for his sister took up about 2/3 of his savings. All he cared about was buying a good gift.

This is a Turkey story, but the same can be said for Bunny. She also loves choosing the right thing, and is generous to a fault. Watching their kind and giving natures at work is one of the best things about being a mommy!

Buyer’s Remorse?

Rule #1–When you go in for a minor surgical procedure, and they specifically tell you not to make any important decisions for the next 24 hours, this does include shopping online. Specifically, it includes ordering a dress from Macy’s that you really can’t afford when you’re sleepless thanks to aforementioned surgical procedure, and the events leading up to it. So, no decisions, no shopping.

Rule #2–For the love of heaven, when said dress arrives, do not try it on! Probably don’t even open the box–just take the whole thing immediately back to Macy’s and return as quickly as possible.

Rule #3–If you have ignored rule #2, (shame on you!), and insisted on trying it on, do not, I repeat, do not, model it for any members of your family. Especially not little girls who love dresses, or over-complimentary husbands and sons.

Rule #4–Do not venture down the road of what I like to call “Amanda Math,” trying to justify how you might keep the dress. Pack it back in the box, and return it to Macy’s as quickly as possible (as was previously suggested in rule #2).

Rule #5–Maybe just block the Macy’s website from your computer.

Rule #6–If you have the will power to actually make it to Macy’s with the dress for the return, don’t look around. You’ll just find yourself back at the beginning of a vicious cycle!