Adventures In Thrift

Are we getting ripped off at the bargain counters?

This is an excerpt from the book “Adventures in Thrift”:

“Our first lesson in department-store sleuthing was the fact that the bargain counter is the natural enemy to thrift… If a merchant announces silk gloves at seventy-nine cents, formerly sold for one dollar, one of two conditions exists either he overcharged his customers when he sold the gloves for one dollar, or he is losing money on the gloves at seventy-nine cents. Men are not in business to lose money. We, therefore, conclude that the gloves at one dollar were overpriced, so we are getting no bargain at seventy-nine cents. None of the prices in such a store are, therefore, reliable.” Mrs. Larry

It is jarring for me to read this statement because I often shop bargain stores for what I would consider quality items at an affordable price. I shop at places such as TJ Maxx and Marshall’s and have been under the impression that I am getting off season and overstocked items at lower prices.

I often find designer suits for what I would consider a bargain. For example, I am a fan of Ann Taylor suits but would never pay the $350.00 price tag that I find on her website. My husband and I saw one at Marshall’s for $80.00 that was supposedly marked down from $385.00, so after careful consideration we bought it. In this instance I think that we may have gotten a good deal on a quality suit but who’s to say that the original price for that particular suit wasn’t $85.00 to begin with.

I try not to pay full price for any of my clothing because they decrease in value the moment you put them on, but I do want to be able to determine when I am getting great quality fabric at reliable and honest prices.

I also read in the book where it said “Ignorance in the housewife causes dishonest prices in the grocery (store)”… or any store for that matter. The author believed that when we buy marked up items or items that have been marked up and then reduced to the true price, that we encourage the manufactures to continue to rob us. We encourage them because we have relinquished or power to think and research the products that we spend our money on.

Have you ever shopped bargain stores only to find that the prices were the same at the retail shops? What are your thoughts and experiences?


  1. Elizabeth says

    That is an interesting point in the book. I think there is a huge mark-up for the original price of clothes and for the original price of furniture — not to mention other things. So, buying “on sale” becomes sort of a marketing game.

    Have you ever noticed that some stores offer sales every day? I think, for them, offering a “sale” becomes a way of doing business. It’s a way to make the customer think they’re getting a real bargain.

    I used to work part time in a particular chain of clothing stores that no longer exists. The company introduced new items several times a season. The moment the new items were displayed, the other items were marked down.

    So, many regular customers ignored the new stuff and went straight to the sale racks, which were full of stuff that had been new just a few weeks prior.

    That used to drive my boss crazy, and she talked about how cheap it was for people to buy only the sale stuff. Privately, I applauded the regular customers for realizing that — in a sense — the sale price was the “real” price.

    I had to buy and wear a certain amount of “new” items in order to work there. I got these items at an employee discount, so I didn’t have to pay the original asking price. But, I continued to buy a few “sale” items, as the sale plus my employee discount brought the clothing way down in price from the original tag.


  2. Hadias says

    Sometimes it is very difficult to pass up what we percieve as a deal. Trying to take advantage of deals can easily become addictive.

    I look for deals on things that I need. I determine if I need it by keeping a list of items that I need. For example, right now I have cutains, undergarments, tile and a bread maker on my list. So when I see these items a great price I eagerly pick them up.

    But if I see a coffee machine at a great price and buy it simply because it has a great price then it defeats the whole goal of looking for bargains.

    I bargain shop in order to live the lifestyle I want to live without going broke trying to do it. But if I spend my money foolishly I will find myself in the poorhouse.


  3. Renae says

    When my mom used to come home with arms full of “savings,” my dad always said, “How much did you spend?” If something appears to be a good deal, it makes it harder to resist.

    I never buy anything full price. I learned as a teenager that the expensive dress would still go out of style and get dirty.

    Peace to you,


  4. ~ Angi :) says

    Bravo! On the Ann Taylor, I vote “Yes!” you obtained high quality for the best price. 🙂

    I’m one to always scan the clearance racks first, but I do not always purchase there. Many times, the better deal is the higher priced yet higher quality,item . . .

    And finally, my 2nd oldest clued me in on an Areopostle sale recently. I don’t shop there normally, but she does . . .I found a SUPER cute sweater than was WELL priced, and quality workmanship and cloth. When I turned to pay, tho, the line was 20 people deep. I put the sweater away. As my dd caught up with me, she told me that the price they were asking was the everyday price . . .in other words, they had jacked up the prices, then offered a percent off sale, taking the item back to the original price . . .a deceptive practice indeed. It made me feel sad.


  5. Kacie says

    Excellent point! We need to be skeptical of how much we’re “saving,” for instance, if we’re “saving” 75% off, but still paying $100, we need to be sure that we are actually getting a great deal.


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