Bargain Hunters Alert: Learn Retailers Secrets To Spot A Deal From Rachael Ray & Friends

MarkdownMom’s major rule for shopping is to never pay retail , if you can help it.  Rachael Ray and her friend, Gretta, expands on this rule by exposing retail secrets to find the best bargains when shopping in stores.

Rule 1: Don’t Fall for Staging Tricks.
Rule 2: Buy One Get One Free (BOGO)is Not Always a Steal
Rule 3: Learn the Retail Rules
Rule 4: Watch for Cross-Merchandising Tricks
Rule 5: Just Because it’s in a Locked Case Doesn’t Mean it’s Expensive
Rule 6: Start at the Clearance Rack
Rule 7: Follow this Shoe Trick
Rule 8: Get the Perfect Shoe Fit with These Tips
Rule 9: Beware of In-Store Credit Card Offers

Warning: Study Shows Plastics #3, #6. & #7 May Lower Children's IQ's

This month CNN reported that common household items may cause lower IQ’s in children.  Researches at Columbia have found that a plasticides  found in food storage containers, toiletries, laundry products and, yes, even dolls .lower IQ’s in children significantly.

Phthalates have been banned in children’s toys , products and in cosmetics in Europe for some time  and now researchers are recommending pregnant women also should limit their exposure and should use glass containers instead of plastic for cooking in microwaves.

Read more by clicking here!

Tip Of The Week #72: The Fail Safe Finger Test For 50 Shades Of Red–Lipstick!

We all have done it.  We want to be trendy and adventurous and try the latest runway look.  Red lipstick never goes out of style and like the color orange really can look terrible if you get the shade wrong. The trouble is that you have different tones in your skin and what may look spectacular on the back of your hand may not even resemble that test shade when applied to your lips.  So, how can you get a more  accurate reading on how the lipstick will look on your lips without contaminating it?

The tip of your fingers are closer in texture and hue than the back  of your hand.  Add the lipstick color to the tip  of a finger.   Then place your finger next to your mouth, look into a mirror to judge if it accomplishes the desired effect you wanted to achieve.  Easy, peasy right?

Grocery Wars Part 2: Less Choices

Retailers learned their lesson following 2008 crash that controlling inventory became key to improving sales. What they did not count on was a continuing decline, not only in the purchasing power of consumers, but also the on-going decline of the middle class that began in 1980 and continues today.

Food always has been competitive with narrower profit margins than most other businesses; however, it was somewhat recession proof since consumers could forgo buying a new car or the latest fashion, but everyone has to eat, right?  However, now grocery stores have begun to control inventories beyond seasonal items and what this means for the consumer is a decline in the number and type of selections a store will carry.  Add to this natural causes such as drought, floods, and shorter growing seasons, that have increased prices substantially on beef and pork, and the consumer increasingly is being placed between a rock and a hard place.  As the middle class keeps losing ground coupled with higher prices, grocery stores are scaling back the volume and variety they offer in almost every department.

How many times have you experienced going to either a warehouse store or local grocery store for a staple that you have been buying for years, only to find that it isn’t being carried by the retailer anymore?  Are these products no longer being supplied?  In some cases, yes—some businesses have closed either through competitive attrition or retirement in family-owned businesses, but not all.  Stores are cutting back on what they consider gourmet items but also on staples if price is prohibitive and sales are limited due to the makeup of their clientele.

What this means is that many of your favorite items will be harder to find and indirectly will affect the type of meals you will be able to offer your family.  Additionally, prices will increase as competition declines.  What this means in the long run for the overall nutrition of your family is difficult to determine.

MarkdownMom does recommend increasing community gardens and individual gardens to the level of WWII Victory Gardens, and continuation of developing relationships with local farmers, local farmers markets, and learning canning and other food preservation methods.  Until the middle class starts to see signs of an economic recovery, going to the grocery store will require employing all the savvy consumer skills you have to survive sticker shock!

Is Kindle Unlimited The New Netflix For Books???

Calling all ebook readers!  Amazon has debuted its’ new online monthly book club, kindle unlimited.  For $9.99 a month (30 days free trial) you get:

  • Unlimited number of selected ebooks each month, exclusive titles by best selling authors.
  •  Over 600,000 titles, news releases may not be available.
  •  Thousands of audiobooks.
  •  Children books with parental controls.
  • Whisper Sync, a narrated ebook version, that allows the reader to switch from a narrating  professional reader to text and back again, is available on select titles.

MarkdowMom says for book lovers, it doesn’t get better than this and with a month’s free trial, what’s stopping you?

 

 

Size Is Important-The Ongoing Grocery Wars Part 1

Summer customarily has been a time of plenty and ease when we treat ourselves to relaxation in the sun, lazy days, and all that wonderful fresh, seasonal food!  Okay, so during this time of bounty, at the beginning of the harvest season, why are consumers paying more, but filling fewer grocery bags?

Well, several factors are at play here and one represents a significant change by manufacturers of our food that has required a major investment by them in retooling their factories and may signify a continued slow economy for some time to come.  Employing a merchandising trompe l’oeil, a fooling of the eye, manufacturers have kept prices down by reducing the contents of the individual item. Actually, this was done purposely to hide price increases since this is an inflationary action with the consumer paying the same or more,  but getting less.  Over time, this smaller sized product was incorporated into the inventory, but now every item stocked is the smaller size.  MarkdownMom recently visited WalMart and the shelves are shockingly full, row by row, with these miniature cans.

Additionally, packaged goods have reduced weights and less items included.  For instance, the consumer will pay the same price for an item as before–a good deal, right?  But instead of getting, 6 items in the package, there are only 4; instead of a dozen, there are 10.  Do the math, that’s an inflationary rate over 10%.   Meanwhile, the average consumers pay has stagnated after a steady decline beginning in the 1980’s.

It’s hard to say when this incredible, edible shrinkage will stop.  The only thing the consumer has in common with the food industry is that the $1 is worth less as well.

Repurposing: When Old Is New Again

Finds at flea markets, thrift stores, or backyard sales don’t have to be antiques to have value.  Designers today have found that there is money in thinking out-of-the-box when it comes to old things.  HGTV is replete with repurposing, achieving that quirky artisan look, that corner that lends interest to a room, the je ne sais quoi item that draws attention by using “old junk.”

A new development in finding these objects is the rise of retailers to include these one-of-a-kind items for sale online.  For example,, Haute Look, an outlet for Nordstrom, has  new category labeled “Authentic Vintage Curiosities & Beyond.”  Here you will find old shipping boxes with faded manufacturers names or advertising that lend themselves for storage & organization, colored bowling pins to keep stacks of books in line, or a french gymnast bar for your exercise room, just to name a few.

Another retailer dedicated to a certain style, Napastyle, has a new spin-off Barn Door, advertised as a site for  one-of-a- kind finds & deals, so you know you are dealing with limited supplies of any item.  Napastyle first started bringing in collectibles from Europe a couple of years ago where there was a plentiful supply, and now this new site has expanded to include vintage, rare, deals, and even a “Final Markdown” category that span American eras such as early homestead, depression, to mid-century. Vintage tins, furniture, and home accessories such as scales and more are part of their inventory.

You must know your antiques and collectibles to find a bargain, but these sites are good to find a particular item to complete your collection or for us bargain hunters, this is another reference point to find what is popular, or the retail prices of what we currently own.

Did You Know???

So many deals, so little time.  Many of the high-end retail stores have developed their own “deal” sites where they are able to sell their out-of-season merchandise, odds & ends, or slow moving items.  For instance:

Nordstrom has Nordstrom Rack and Haute Look

Neiman Marcus has Last CallPreview

Sak’s has Off Saks Fifth

But did you know that for the larger deals shop the “Clearance” or “Sale” categories within these sites?  Even discounters such as Groupon have a clearance section where the deals may only fit  a select few, but they are tremendous.  Also MarkdownMom recommends that you take advantage of further discounts by waiting for their additional promotional discounts or the Last Call Dash and Daily Deal at Neiman Marcus Last Call held at various times during the day.  But MarkdownMom warns it’s important to know the lowest price offered by these sites since promotional discounts are sometimes taken on a previous higher price and not necessarily reflect the lowest price you could have bought this item.