Shopping (6/22/05)

Dear Zelda,

I am shopping fanatic and a working woman who finds it difficult to find the time and energy to satisfy my love of shopping. It seems that all my friends always know of the next big sale and find the deals before me. By the time I get to the store things are pretty picked over.

From all the fashionable things you wear, I can tell you are a shopper after my own heart and I am hoping you can help me. How can I stay in the shopping-know and find all of the great shopping treasures? Thanks for your help!

Shopping Fanatic

P.S. Where did you find that camouflage bikini? I was looking for one for my vacation in Cancun.

Dear Fanatic,

I have two vital shopping lessons. No.1, Always keep your eyes open. You are surrounded by shopping bargains. No.2, NEVER PAY FULL RETAIL!

When it comes to great sales, somehow I can sniff ‘em out. This dog can hunt -- for bargains! When there are great buys to be had, I get as charged up as a beagle on a fox hunt. For me it's a sport, one that I'm actually good at for a change. I shop discount stores and outlet stores that carry top brands. I browse through high-end stores, but don't buy unless there is an unbelievably great bargain. It's important to become familiar with good quality merchandise, (know how to tell a St. John from a St. Jean), then you will recognize it at the discount outlets like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Loehmann's, Ross, or Orchard Street in New York. Finding and owning something that is well-made beats bargain cheapies that will shred upon first wash. My "dollar collar" was money and merchandise down the drain.

But I'm not all teeth and nails as I snatch up the best deals in my size. In fact, I'm sweet as can be to the sales associates and personal shoppers. By now I've got them trained. When they see something on the rack that is just my style, they set it aside and call me. Here's another tip: while you're making nice to the salespeople, ask them to put you on their mailing list to notify you in advance of each sale. Then...show up a day before the sale and negotiate sale prices. Just ask them to ring up the sale on the next day. No need to be up early. You've already been there, done that, and you didn't have to fight the crowds.

As for my camouflage bikini, believe it or not I picked it up at a military surplus store! I just stopped by to look at the bayonets. (You never know when one might come in handy at a really crowded sale.) But it was the camo bikini that caught my eye. I'm glad it caught your eye, too!

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

I'm writing to you because I like your no-nonsense answers. My wife is a shop-a-holic and I don't know what to do. She has maxed out our credit cards buying things she doesn't need or clothes she doesn't even wear. Last week she bought 5 pairs of shoes, all the same style, but in different colors.

We are young (in our twenties) and just starting out. We are (or at least I am) trying to save money for important things, like a down payment on a house. I'm working extra hours to help achieve our financial goals and she is sabotaging my efforts. Help me Zelda!

Shop-a-holic's Spouse

Dear Spouse,

I did some sole-searching and found 7 pairs of shoes in the same style in my closet. But, as my owner reminds me every time she steers me away from the ice cream bars, I'm a model. What's your wife's excuse?

Here's my guess: She's using shopping to fill a sad and empty place in her heart. Do you think perhaps she's feeling neglected by you?

You mentioned “our” financial goals. How much input did you ask from her when drawing up those goals? And was it her idea to have you working all the time during the exciting first years of your marriage?

As I tell Zoe and ZeeZee every time they try to hog the whole couch, sometimes you've just got to budge for somebody else. A little budging is in order for both of you. Your wife needs to budge by changing her shop-a-holic ways and being more considerate of financial goals that you establish TOGETHER. You need to budge by being more considerate of her need for your companionship and attention. Try the 'budge and budget plan'. And if you're looking for something to do that doesn't cost any money, why don't you cuddle up on your couch together and watch the Suze Orman Show? Suze gives great tips on how to get your financial house in order.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

Where do you find your clothes? You always look sensational and I'd like to find dog clothing like yours. Are you ever going to produce a line of clothing just for dogs? I'm a Yorkie and would like some Zelda-designed outfits. Your leopard jacket is fabulous! Can you share the sources for your wardrobe?

Petunia

Dear Petunia,

As I mentioned earlier, shopping is my middle name. My wardrobe wonders come from stores ranging from Sak?s to army surplus. Plus, I must admit, I do have a super seamstress who creates much of my couture. Unless you hired a bloodhound to retrace all my shopping steps, you could never replicate the famed Zelda Collection.

But you?re not the first to ask about my splendid sartorial selections. That?s why I?ve decided to create my own line of haute doggie couture. My Zelda designs for dogs of all sizes are still on the drawing board but I?m thinking of offering a line of outdoor wear, special-occasion ensembles for red carpet appearances (I don?t know about you, but I get so many invitations!), spicy lingerie and perhaps even apparel for moms with new litters. Have you ever seen an eight-cup nursing bra? Well, we?ll see how that one pencils out. Meanwhile, my great fashion ideas just keep coming! So keep watching this column. You?ll read it here first when my Zelda clothing line is the real deal.

Zelda