Shopping for the 98%

For the 98%, shopping these days is amazing. Really, it is. There’s the Internet, and the corner store, and the big box retailer – while there might be too many choices, choice is a good thing, no? Maybe.

Look, if I want a new kitchen mat, it’s burdensome to scroll through 21,435 kitchen mats on ONE website. There’s a great read on Fast Company, “Why Having Too Many Choices is Making You Unhappy.” I should have learned my lesson when my daughter was about seven, and we were choosing her outfit for school. “Too many choices, mommy!” she cried. Alas, I didn’t listen. Just another of the 10,000 Parenting Mistakes I Made – And You Can, Too!” There might be a book in there somewhere.

Anyway, you can, of course, narrow your search by “filtering your results,” another exercise in futility, because the filters never seem to include what I really want them to. I need a filter for, for example, “will this kitchen mat show cat vomit?”

Narrowing Your Search
Emma at Target
Our granddaughter Emma at Target. Isn’t that the expression on your face when you’re at Target?

You can, however, narrow your search by doing one of several things; here are two of my favorites:

  1. Going to Target, which of course includes all of the myriad joy that that brings. Advice: The only way not to spend your mortgage payment at Target is to leave your wallet at home (not in the car, because (a) it could get stolen and (b) having it in your car is too close to Target – you could always run out to the car and get it). No, the only safe way to shop at Target is to put the amount of cash that you can afford to spend in your pocket or purse.
  2. Perusing Craigslist. I.Love.Craigslist. First, you probably don’t ever have to talk on the phone. As a buyer and a seller, we’ve had dozens of successful transactions and only a couple of scary ones. Word to the wise: anything described as “stunning” on Craigslist is guaranteed to be the absolute ugliest thing you’ve ever seen. Also, in the depths of the recession, when I was convinced that the $15 in my bank account was surely enough to buy one of the thousands of “distressed properties”, I had sellers actually text me the lockbox combination and tell me to visit the place on my own. My husband (“the ostrich”) said, “Oh, I wouldn’t worry. I’m sure you’ll be safe.” Thanks, honey! And no, as a matter of fact, my life insurance is not paid up – I’m saving the money for that real estate investment! By the way, in case you have to ask, my “expert” advice is never, ever, ever do this, whether you’re a buyer or a seller. Really, just never.

Anyway. We’ve furnished our home largely from the depths of Craigslist and the clearance items at Target (ok, maybe we don’t *always* wait for the clearance price), with a little IKEA thrown in for good measure. Add in some judicious yard sale and vintage shop items, and et voila – your own personal style! Also, fun fact: A convertible can hold an absurd amount of home furnishings, including a queen mattress, although I don’t recommend doing that ever again.

Seizing the Moment

I’ve got too many Craigslist favorites to ever list here, but one in particular stands out: our amazing, incredibly expensive at full retail, patio furniture. For months, I’d stalked Craigslist for the exact furniture I wanted. Finally, my huntress instincts were rewarded and I saw the Post of My Dreams mere minutes after it appeared. Even better, it was ten minutes from home!

Me: “Gene! Leave work right now – meet me at [address].”
Gene: “Sorry, wrong number.”
Me: “Nice try, sweetie.”

Patio Furniture for the 98%

He knew he’d lost. We arrived at the seller’s place to find a pristine set of patio furniture, exactly what I wanted, for 10% of what it would cost new. The seller, looking a bit stressed, said, “Look, my wife is tired of it, and she gave me until Sunday afternoon to have it gone, when the new furniture arrives. Can you promise to have it out of here by Sunday?” Well, of course we can! I mean, it won’t fit in the convertible, but at ten minutes from home, it will only take us, like, six trips.

patio furniture for the 98%
Just a few of the pieces of patio furniture we picked up on Craigslist

Twelve trips later, we had all the furniture on our patio. It’s truly amazing. Plus, it was so cheap that I had all kinds of money left over for the next Target run, with enough left over to get my life insurance premium paid up.

Happy hunting! ⧉

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