I recently wrote an article for money expert Clark Howard’s website about some of the money mantras that guide my spending decisions. The first example I gave was to KNOW WHAT THINGS SHOULD COST. I wanted to share a recent example of how you can get burned by not being aware of the way items are priced — and how they are priced differently depending on where you shop.
My example is a John Varvatos dress shirt. I bought it a few months ago from Bloomingdale’s along with a few other things. The retail price was $98.00. There’s no way that I would pay nearly $100 for a dress shirt because I tend to run through them quickly. I believe the shirt was on sale for roughly $40 to $45. I tried to find my receipt to verify that price, but I couldn’t find it. I do remember feeling as though I got a pretty good deal. Half off, right?
Well, sometimes half off isn’t the best deal. Over the weekend, I found myself shopping for dress shirts again. I went to Nordstrom Rack this time, which is Nordstrom’s discount brand. I wouldn’t normally pay much attention to the same dress shirt that’s already in my closet, but because I recently went up a size, I did. To my surprise, the exact same John Varvatos dress shirt that I thought was a great deal at $40 to $45 was only $29.97. Like the shirt at Bloomingdale’s, the price tag also had a retail price of $98.00.
I ended up buying the $29.97 shirt and a couple of others in my new size from Nordstrom Rack. Unfortunately, my size has been fluctuating quite a bit over the last year or so. I have been doing a bit more shopping than I normally do because I am busting out of my clothes in all of the wrong places. I guess that happens after you turn 30.
My takeaway from this story is not that Bloomingdale’s is bad. In fact, I got a high quality suit at an extreme discount there a couple of years ago. My point is that we all need to be skeptical of sales. In this example, a shirt that Bloomingdale’s discounted by more than 50% was still more expensive than the Nordstrom Rack shirt. And if I didn’t like this particular shirt, Nordstrom Rack had plenty of others for the same price. There is a huge markup on most of what we buy.
Even if there is no Nordstrom Rack in your area, there are discount stores and many clothing brands have factory stores online. I do have one word of warning. Some of the items that you buy from factory stores are made exclusively for factory stores, so the quality may not be the same. Do some investigating (Google) beforehand to avoid disappointment.