Window shopping can be fun and useful - I went to an upscale craft fair over the weekend and saw several things at much higher prices which I had gotten for much less. (Like a craft glass pin for $20 - I had just gotten one just like it at a thrift shop the day before for pennies!)
I realize that all my experience at looking around had helped me to define what I wanted and that I have been able to get those things on my budget by shopping at thrift shops, discount stores, and elsewhere where I can afford it. Who knows that my impressionistic landscape painting cost less than $20 - or that my art glass was on sale? Or that I have a vintage necklace just like the one over in that booth which I got for $5, not $50? Conspicuous consumption is not for me - just so I can boast about how much I spent. It's the pleasure I get from what I have that counts.
I also shop at thrift stores and discount stores and rarely, if ever, go into the department stores. I get satisfaction in bragging about how LITTLE I spend and don't understand why people brag about how much they spend......seems like they got "taken for a ride" paying full price...that's nothing to brag about.
I window shop on the internet. If I need something in particular (a certain style) I check on the big store sites, then keep my eyes open at their clearance sections, thrift stores, and sometimes Overstock.com (they really get some FANTASTIC deals, but you got to read it right.) My number one is always the thrift store, because I have a small/medium build, most things are near brand new, and almost all the styles I wear are classic. If I do pay full price, it has to be one of a kind, ready to sell out! Other than that, I stick to secondhand and discounted.
This is really a good post and one I agree with wholeheartily and with the other comments as well! I have never understood why some people seem to look down their noises at me that I go to garage sales. I do not need to look for bargains but it goes against my grain to spend more than I have to. I shop garage sales, thrift stores, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and sometimes even find some good things I can use in the trash! I get much pleasure from the money I've saved!
Going to thrift stores and garage sales, etc. is a good way to get bargains IF you know what you are buying, can evaluate it properly, etc. However... many thrift stores, church rummage sale coordinators, etc. also have access to the Internet, and/or professional appraisers, and are starting to price their "treasures" accordingly.
And, at those "upscale craft shows", those prices reflect what the vendors are paying to be there-- usually high fees for the space, plus things like transportation and lodgiong, and if it is a really "upscale" show, they can't just set up themselves-- they have to pay union labor to set up their space and unload their items and move them from the loading dock to their booth. In addition... they need to make enough over the cost of materials to stay in business (including taxes, fees, SSI, etc), and hopefully, make a "living wage". Most crafters I know make no where near minimum wage for their crafting time, after all the expenses are taken into consideration-- some consider themselves "doing well" if they break even.
Yes, I understand about craft people & I am happy that they have people to buy their wares! (I had a glass artist I patronized & have what I think is her masterpiece - a bowl embossed with dragon flies).
However - on my budget I find that I couldn't afford art objects unless I found a great deal. Every once in a while something slips through the net at Goodwill & I find a wonderful piece like my little bronze statuette of the head of an Indian girl which turned out to be be a prominent Western artist!
Could I have afforded $200 or so for it? No. But at two dollars it was within my range! And I feel that my eye has been rewarded!
Of course dealers go to similar places - but even then, I am sometimes able to scoop them - as with my French 1830's lithograph - framed - for $10 - & looking is such fun.
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