Bargain shopping is a serious, bloodthirsty sport.
On our tbt* fashion blog, Deal Divas, we proclaim to be champions of the craft. Bold denizens of sale racks. Lovers of scrimped style. We are friends, but we can still throw down, and it was time for an old-fashioned fight to the death.
Who was the World's Best Bargain Shopper?
The challenge was supremely American. In this era of blind consumption, people take binders of coupons to the grocery store. They hoard until they're surrounded and can't remember why. The Deal Divas don't endorse buying things just because they're on sale, but to truly sharpen our saving skills, we would have to channel that spirit of reckless consumer patriotism.
Kameel Stanley and I met at Target in St. Pete during lunch. It was the perfect place for random discounts, a red maze of end caps and odd distractions. We agreed on terms. We'd split up and reconvene in the food area next to the old man slurping coffee in 30 minutes to declare a winner. The prize was unwavering bragging rights and self-respect. Fine, maybe not self-respect. That ship sailed long ago.
Kameel sunk coolly into the clothing department, and I branched into the accessories. I considered an inexplicable clip-on furry tail marked from $12.99 to $9.08 (who on Earth?). Then I felt my instincts rev. Nay, my trophy wouldn't be among the cheap crap. Chintzy impulse items have smaller markdowns because you're already likely to buy them. True percentage slashing would happen on big tickets.
Bingo. In electronics sat a Blackberry charger marked from $64.99 to $16.24. Never mind it didn't work without the power mat for $69.99. As we said, this was not about logic.
With five minutes to spare, I locked eyes with Kameel, sussing out a tote bag, a baby bottle carrier and a reversible duvet cover. She furrowed her brow, stuck two fingers toward her eyes and jammed them back at me.
Oh, no. What if my pointless Target finds weren't cheap enough? Kameel is a formidable foe. She fights dirty.
Plagued by jitters, I swung by the shoe department and found hideous outdoor adventure sandals from Swiss Gear on mega-clearance. With a minute to spare, I ran back to the old man at the popcorn stand, lugging both the Blackberry dock and the shoes.
Kameel sauntered over with a CD entitled Sweet Lady Smooth R&B, $2.24. So confident! So cool! She pulled out her iPhone and plugged in our figures down to the penny.
Blackberry dock: 75.012 percent off.
Ugly shoes: 75.021 percent off.
Sweet Lady Smooth R&B CD: 75.083 percent off.
We agreed to put the stuff back. This was a fun exercise, but keeping the Swiss Gear shoes would not only usher us closer to hoarding, it would kill our style credential. And neither of us even had a Blackberry.
The Sweet Lady Smooth R&B CD was kind of awesome. Tyrese. D'Angelo. Mariah Carey. TLC. You couldn't download all that sexy music for $2.24. We decided to split the cost and burn an extra copy, recalculating our discount en route to checkout counter. Total savings of 87.52 percent.
Sometimes teamwork really is better than fighting.
Read more from the Deal Divas at tampabay.com/blogs/divas.