Bargain Whisperers 4

Bargain whisperer I

My brother is a bargain whisperer.  Whenever and wherever he goes shopping, he finds the best items at the best prices including those on final markdowns. 

When he lived in Boston, we both worked downtown and, along with another friend would regularly detour through Filene’s Basement on the way to the T to catch the Redline home to Dorchester.  These were glorious days of shopping at Filene’s Basement when you got well-made and high-priced items at bargain prices rather than cheaply made products for the discount stores so common today. 

(Let me stop here and let out a long sigh for the demise of the original Filene’s Basement.  Sigh-igh-igh.)  Okay – I’m over it. 

Brother-dear would regularly find items that had to be taken to the “charity desk” for a final, unprecedented markdown.

During my recent visit home to St. Louis, he worked his magic in Stein Mart, a department store unfamiliar to me in Massachusetts.  We found seriously wonderful, stylish men’s shirts on final clearance for $3.95-$6.95.  He found items that I had not seen looking in the same section.

It helps that he has good taste and a wonderful sense of style.  I’m trying to be more stylish – somehow that fashion sense that my brother, daughter, sister and Mom (supreme of all) just doesn’t come naturally to me.  But I’m trying.

Bargain whisperer II

My best friend is a bargain whisperer, too.  Not only can she find clearance items and use coupons to get them for next to nothing, she also has an uncanny ability to have store clerks give her things for free and/or undercharge her.  I swear she must use telepathy on them.  (This has happened to me twice over the twenty years I’ve known her, but only when I was with her.)  When it happened last year, I was so nervous, I practically tripped over myself trying to get out of the store quickly.  I did battle with myself about whether I should correct the salesclerk but I decided to accept the unexpected bounty.

Bargain whisperer 0 (That would be me.)
I’m not a bargain whisperer because:

  • I don’t go shopping frequently enough.  Brother-dear and friend-dear go shopping at least once or more weekly.

  • I don’t like browsing especially with funds low.

  • I don’t spend enough time in the store really examining the goods.

  • I second-guess myself on choices, which is why I made a stupid decision not to pick up a simple and elegant black cardigan that I need when I happened through TJ Maxx between two meetings downtown the other day.  Dumb-dumb-dumb!  You know the sweater won’t be there if I go there this weekend.

  • I think too much about the real cost of the items I’m buying, in terms of what the store paid the people who made the items.  I’m assuming that they are still making profit on the clearance and sale items.

  • I talk myself out of buying things…not helping the economy much there am I?

  • I’m pretty content with what I have (and determined to fit into a couple of bins worth of clothes in a smaller size – a bigger bargain cannot be found than free).

  • The things on my wish list are not likely to be found in the bargain aisle.

  • I think rich even though I’m clearly not in terms of money.

Do you know any bargain-whisperers?  Or are you one yourself?

If you are, you have my admiration especially because in the case of the two bargain-whisperers of this post, I have often been the beneficiary of their shopaholic, I mean, bargain-finding ways.



About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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4 thoughts on “Bargain Whisperers

  • Carolyn

    Finding great bargains does require a consistent commitment to out there in the stores. It’s kinda like the lottery slogan, “you gotta be in it to win it.” I also give a moment of silence for the demise of the original Filene’s Basement; those were great times in that underground treasure chest.
    And I too am at that point of steppin’ up my fashion game and it does require time in the stores whole-heartedly participating in shopping sport—because that is the only way to find those incredible deals and to establish rapport with the sales staff.
    Now that you have brought the notion of being a “Bargain Whisperer” to my attention I think it’s a useful and fun hobby to pursue.

  • Patricia

    Hi Candelaria — Love your term “Bargain Whisperer.” Yes, we all miss the original store–what’s sad is that it could have stayed open these last three years, since the site is still dormant. You might be interested in seeing a documentary on the history of Filene’s Basement, which will air on WGBH-2 on Dec. 9 at 8:30pm. It will bring back memories and make you laugh. Pat

  • Candelaria

    Thanks for letting me and other blog readers know about the documentary on the history of Filene’s Basement.  I will be sure to watch.
    I was so upset that the building was demolished.  I know I can’t get the go ahead to do things in my home without full and appropriate financing so I couldn’t believe the folks who bought the building were able to get the city to to allow them to demolish without the financing in place to rebuild.
    I also heard that arrangements for Filene’s Basement to move into the old Barnes & Noble space downtown were thwarted by the owner who wouldn’t work with them on appropriate rent.  That storefront has stayed vacant as well.
    Oh well…if I ruled the world things would be different. 

  • Candelaria

    Time – oh – time.
    Shop or read a book or go to an event?  I will almost always do the thing other than shopping but I hear you.  Unless one can just go in and buy whatever one wants, you do have to consistently go check out the bargains.
    Thanks for your comments.  BTW – you have always looked “hooked” to me.