Wednesday, August 09, 2006

It was on SALE!

Words that I am sure scare the bejeebees out of Thor.

My entire life I have not liked money. It is a means to an end. I am not impressed by it or by the things it can purchase. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE shiny things. But I am also basically lazy and refuse to do whatever it is that builds financial security. It can seem to others that I am h*ll bent on making sure I die in poverty. I have one offspring that would swear by this.

O.k. That said, I also LOVE a bargain. I am one of the few, the proud, the brave who can actually talk a PIC-N-SAVE Manager into lowering the price "on this item. See, right here? Yeah, well I understand that this is a discounted piece of merchandise already. However, this is the last item you have of this and it needs some help. No one else will buy this in its' current condition, and so what can you do so that I will?" I have done this many times to the embarrassment of family and friends and to glares (and envy) of other consumers who, frankly, were too embarrassed to ask for the additional discount themselves.

Case in point: COSTCO. I have a lovely leather "cigar chair" with it's matching ottoman. Originally this chair and ottoman were priced $700.00+. But I waited. And while I waited I took Thor leather chair shopping. We went EVERYWHERE save the manufacturing plant (read: the field where they "grow" leather) so that he could see exactly why the $700.00+ price at COSTCO was such a deal.

Fast forward to the day of the purchase. We go in and there is but one chair left. The floor model. I check it out. Sturdy. Clean. No obvious wear. Just a tad dusty. O.k. This is GO TIME! I find the manager and present a plan. At the end of bargaining I walk out with the set for under $300.00. I can bargain, but after this experiment I learned. I could have gotten the set for even less had I played my cards correct. Live and Learn!

Now, there are others who make me look like a sales schmuck. My best friend for instance.

The following story is TRUE! Nothing in this story has been embellished to make my friend seem crazier than she really is. Only the names have changed to protect and praise the innocent.

Many many years ago "Thelma" purchased a home in Utah as an investment. In her thinking, she would buy this little house, rent it out to two separate parties; paying the mortgage and earn college funds until one by one her 6 kids would take turns on the top floor through their college free.

Thelma spent 4 grueling years building her dream home in SoCAL. To her credit she lived in a 18 foot travel trailer with her husband, Earl and one daughter while the boys lived in another travel trailer just feet from each other. They rented a port-a-potty and went to work. Thelma never paid retail for anything and she wasn't about to start now. They lived and built on that half acre like no modern people I have ever met.

After 3 years in the finished house, her husband decided it was time to move to Utah. Thelma left her dream home after only 3 years. They sold her home for $10,000 and take over payments. It just about killed Thelma.

Not one of her kids went to BYU. O.k. plan B. She had her husband decided to move to Utah and try their hand at a new business. They moved into the house, remodeled it and, yes, still had renters in the basement that paid the small mortgage. Essentially, they lived "free" of any house payment for quite some time.

One day Thelma met with another friend, Louise and went to lunch with a group of women. All of these women knew at least one person in the group, no one knew everyone. During the lunch, one woman lamented the fact that she had finally built her dream home only to live in it 5 years because her husband decided Hawaii was where they needed to be. Now she was in the process of selling her 'new' home for $10,000 and take over payments.

Thelma perked up. She asked Louise if she had ever seen the house that was being sold. Louisa replied that, yes she had been all through it and it was, indeed, lovely. "Is it worth the 10k and the payments?" "I think so." So Thelma asks the owner, "Where is you house?" "Salt Lake in a brand new subdivision. They aren't even finished with all the phases, however our house was one of the first built." They chat a while and after it was all said and done Thelma cut the woman a check right there at the table for $5,000.00 and bought herself a house... on SALE! Sight unseen, but trusting in Louise that it was a good deal, she bought a house.

I got the phone call first, about one hour after her lunch. The ink on the check was probably still damp. "I bought a house in Salt Lake today at lunch." "Wow! I didn't know you guys were planning on moving! That's cool. Tell me about the house." Well, I haven't seen it yet, but Louise has and said it was worth it. I GOT IT ON SALE!" "What did Earl say?" "Welllll, I haven't told him yet. I used my money, so he won't care."

The conversation went along rather oddly like that for about 3 weeks. She eventually found out where the house was actually at, loved it, told Earl about their move about 18 hours prior to moving, and they could not have been happier. They kept the house in Provo where it kept giving them income for many years.

She loved the new neighborhood, and her new friends in Salt Lake. The moral of the story: Never pay retail. Ask for a bargain. Trust good information. Never let your hubby decide when it is time to move.

add to sk*rt


melissa c said...

VERY good advice, but tell me, What did you say to the guy at Costco to get them down so far? My sister can do that stuff but I have never been able to do it as well. Please let me know!

s'mee said...

Mel, it went something like this:

me:Excuse me, how are you today?

him: Fine, how can I help you?

m: So glad you asked! (big smile!) I noticed that this is the only chair and ottoman you have left. Are there any in the back that aren't used and public worn? (used and PUBLIC WORN were key words)

h: Let me check. (checked and no such luck...for him, big luck for me)

m: will you be getting any back in stock?

h: no, this is it.

m: (grousing face, but not mean, thinking thinking....) hmmm, I really wanted one set, but this has been sat on by pretty much every customer you have had in here for the last three months...

(pause, but not too long)

Is there *any* way you can give me a deal on it?

h: oooh (grimacing face also) I don't think so.

m: what do you do with floor models? (gently reminding him he needs to dump this loser-item)

h: we *try* to sell them.

m. O.k. (i smile and laugh a bit) I am standing right here, cash in hand and I am willing to buy this piece of furniture and take it off your hands (this is the point) so that you can replace this floor space with something new. BUT here, here, here, and here (pointing at EVERY little tiny thing I could find that was 'not new') there are obvious signs of wear, plus, as I said before, it's technically NOT NEW because of all the strange people who have sat on it.

I will NEVER be able to get (pointing to a small wear on the piping, that frankly would happen in about three months of normal wear anyway)this back to normal, no matter how much I pay a leather guy to come in and fix it. That will cost me.

What do you say? Do you want to sell it to me for a fair price?

h: what do you consider fair?

***This is another key: This guy NEEDS to clear his merchandise in a timely manner or the store loses money. Stores usually mark up items double or triple the cost, so that when you are buying something at 50% -even 75% off *sometimes* the store is STILL making money.

m: o.k. How about $275?

h: SOLD, I'll get a guy to help you out.

Now, with his first responce being an firm and happy "SOLD!" I knew right then I could have gone lower, my mistake. But all in all I still got it very cheap.

The thing is,
1.remember the store needs the floor space and for their items to move quickly or they lose money. It COSTS the store money to keep it on the floor or to rid the store of it once its decided the item is no longer 'sale worthy'.

2.if it's the last one, or the floor model, chances are they won't restock until next season, this one is "used", and you have the opportunity to help them make money both on the purchase and on the free floor space.

3. prices are usually at least double what they are worth, so you can START thinking at 50% off and go even lower. Work your way up to a price you both can agree on. Think "they have sold similar items like this in the past for 75% off..." somebody is still making money.

4.look for *any* signs of wear, tear, dirt, missing piece, etc. -figure what it would cost if you needed to get it repaired, cleaned or whatevered, and factor that cost into your offer EVEN IF YOU NEVER PLAN ON PAYING FOR THE FIX. it doesn't matter, the item is "damaged" goods.

5.BE NICE. BE REASONABLE. THANK THEM ALL OVER THE PLACE. If they have a manager or supervisor, find that person and praise the work of your sales person; or send a letter.

Target is another place that is famous for good deals at the last minute. I saw an all wood, rocker/swivel, on 5 rollers, desk chair with arms, priced at $129 first day. Similar chairs were at Pottery Barn for over $500. I wanted this chair. I waited and waited for it to go on sale. It did not.

One day I was walking through and BINGO it was on CLEARANCE! I checked the price...$19.99! How fast was that chair in my cart? Now do the math how much of a mark up did Target put on the chair so that it could still make money at $19.99? Do the math for Pottery Barn's price and your head spins.

Hope that helps.

Susan M said...

That's too awesome S'mee. Good job!

chronicler said...

Yeah, but I'm a socialist at heart (not really) and pay retail to balance out all the deals you get! ;-)

Maren said...

This was quite a story (both yours and "Thelmas"). I love a good bargain. Thanks for the tips. I'll have to remember them.

Kristine said...

One of my husband's and my favorite parts of Monty Python goes something like this:

What'cha got there?
A piston engine!
A piston engine? What'cha got that for?
It was a BARGAIN!

Anytime I come home with something that doesn't fall into the "need" category, all he has to say is: "It was a BARGAIN!" and we both laugh!

Thanks for your if I could just get some of those big box stores here in little town, I might be in business!

s'mee said...

Thanks to all, and welcome Kristine!

True story, both Thelma and s'mee.

And if you live in a small town where you would like to get bargains, my suggestion:

Get to know the folks who work in the stores by name. Know them, know their kids, make them your friend. By doing this, number one you'll have more friends; and two friends tell each other stuff. Stuff like when to expect a sale, or new stock or how the store policy works.

When I first moved to the town where we lived, seriously, I had to drive at least 1/2 hour to get groceries, forget anything else- that was an hours' drive! Trust me, the buddy system can work wonders as well.

Kristine said...

That's actually really good advice s'mee...thanks...and I'll start putting it into action. The town you lived in sounds like the one I moved from. At least we've got Wal-Mart here...and not 1 1/2 hours away like it used to be.