Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2011: Year of the Deal

The spring that I turned 16, Tayla, Carmin and I enthusiastically planned to go "shopping after school on Friday." Like many other things we did in Cold Lake, it was a weak attempt at replicating the activities we saw our fictional peers doing on Dawson's Creek and Freaks and Geeks. The things teenagers were supposed to be doing.

Tayla's 16th Birthday. (Left to Right: Me, Tayla, Carmin, Alex)

The only problem was, Joey and Dawson had an actual mall to go to. In Cold Lake, the Tri-City Mall boasted the only three clothing stores in town--Ricki's/Bootlegger, Suzy Shier and Zellers. (Yes, Zellers. And we were darn lucky to have a Zellers. Prior to my 10th birthday, my clothing was procured almost exclusively on shopping trips to the city or from the bowling alley, which is where we'd pick up our Sears catalogue orders.) The Tri-City Mall offered no cool food court to hang out in and flirt with boys. You couldn't even really just walk around, since you could see clear from one end of the mall to the other. Basically, it was (and is) an indoor strip mall.

No matter how hard we tried, Mallrats-worthy hijinks were not going to ensue. So despite our enthusiastic planning, the activity was complete after the purchase of new underwear and 30 minutes.

Even on my infrequent visits to the city, my best shopping rarely took place in malls. My memories of visiting malls include the following: vomiting the whole way home after a day at West Ed, crying in the middle of Kingsway at the age of 17, and purchasing my grad dress in under 20 minutes. Instead, I'd insist on visiting Whyte Ave so I could scour Mars & Venus for new chokers and pick up my trademark Manic Panic Hot Hot Pink hair-colour. Even my chain clothing store of choice, Le Chateau, was on the strip. Malls just left me with a feeling of frustration, which I haven't been able to shake to this day.

Kenny's graduation. Dress: 1970s vintage (used to be my mom's). Necklace: vintage (I think it may have been my great grandmother's). Speaking of which, this dress has been missing for the last 10 years. If anyone knows where it is, I'd love it back.

I didn't grow up in malls. Maybe this is why I don't view shopping with the same revere as Jay or Courtney or Brie. It's a task at hand. Get in, get your stuff, get out.

My grad dress was the second one I tried on during a shopping trip to Edmonton. My mom and I drove the 1.5 hours to Lloydminster to find my necklace.

But while I don't like malls or shopping, I do love a good deal. After watching TLC's Extreme Couponing while contemplating my complete lack of income, it suddenly become clear to me what I have to do. I need to rediscover the joy (?) of shopping and save money in the process. I call it 2011: Year of the Deal.

Here's how I'm going to do it in five steps:

1. Coupons: I'm going to learn how to use them. Then I'm going to use them. And then I'm going to laugh all the way to the bank.

2. Sales: I'm going to become one of those people who buys Christmas junk in January and saves it until the following December. And I'm going to rediscover my love of Value Village.

3. Entering contests: Why not? Someone has to win, right? (I'm channeling Gordon Korman's book Go Jump in the Pool for this one.)

4. Reward Points: I'm already a near-obsessive rewards point collector. (I'm really not too concerned about marketing companies collecting my information.) But this year, I'm going to take it to a new level. I'm going to make purchases of $50 or more on my rewards charge card and pay them off as soon as I get home for maximum point collection. I'll also regularly visit the Aeroplan and Airmiles websites to make sure I'm taking advantage of any special offers.

5. Free Stuff: The fact that Jay stuffs his suitcase with mini shampoos after visiting a hotel is the bane of my existence. Even worse is when he asks me to put rolls in my purse. ("We're not poor!" I protest.) So with this in mind, I'm going to try and get free stuff this year. But only free stuff that I'm going to legitimately use.

I feel good about this one. It's no Year of the Rash or Deltiological Studies, but it has a good ring to it. After all, everyone loves a deal.


  1. Um, obviously we don't hang out enough. Not only do I use coupons, enter (and win) contests and find deals so good they're not just bargains (they're bargoons!), I'm also the queen of Shoppers points (fact: I bought my digital camera with Optimum points). What you call a resolution, I just call life.

  2. How have we known each other for over six years but are only finding out now that we are soulmates? We need to discuss this at more length later.

  3. Ken Purcell2:56 AM

    Value Village is great. Being the geek I am, I scour the shelves for classic, out-of-production video games every time my brother drags me there. Only downside is, I'm too big for 90% of the clothing there. And there's some wicked, ironically uncool/cool stuff to pick from.

  4. 1. I love the Tri-City mall description... It really was (is...) a sad, sad "mall."
    2. Shopper's has an app where you can see all their sale items (with prices) organized into categories. Very handy!

  5. canice11:06 PM

    groupon. you forgot online coupons. so far i have gotten 50%+ off deals at the gap, spa gift certificates, home delivery of organic fruit-and-veggie boxes.

    the best. and you can buy the stuff with your credit, so bonus air miles?

  6. I didn't forget the online coupons--I'm already signed up for a couple of the Groupon types groups, but I find the deals they post are more luxuries rather than necessities. But yes, they're definitely on my radar.

  7. you-know-who4:20 AM

    really!? i'm the only one cropped out of the photo? oooh snap.

  8. Dear You-Know-Who:

    Unfortunately, I do not know who was cropped out of this photo. It was scanned in over 10 years ago and I have no clue who or why anyone was cropped out of it. (It was found when I was transferring files from my old computer to my new one.) In fact, I'm not even certain I was the one who cropped it or scanned it in.

    So, no "snap" intended.

  9. Anonymous2:53 PM

    It's Elana. I think we were the only 5 at that party? :( waaa. No actual insult taken...

  10. No worries. Either way, I'm 90% sure that it's not you. (You can just see in the corner that the person in question is wearing white short-shorts and what I think is a purple tank top, which I suspect would not have been your outfit of choice?)

  11. Anonymous10:53 PM

    Good eye! It must be someone else next to Alex. I must be on the end...