Words

Bargain Blowout

Help for the holidays

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

You thought you’d never reach the door.

There you were, the day after Thanksgiving, in the dark at 3am, and the Black Friday line stretched a mile in front of you.

What, exactly, possessed you to get out of your warm bed to stand in line? Was it the sale, the thrill of the hunt, or something else? 

Read the new book, Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World, by Mark Ellwood, and you could say it’s all in your head.

The last time you went to the store, it may’ve seemed like there were a dozen new products on the shelves. That’s entirely possible, actually: since World War II, in supermarkets alone, the number of individual items has increased “more than tenfold.”

Your brain loves that—to a point. When you shop—particularly when bargains are involved—dopamine floods your gray matter, giving you a rush of excitement. But that can backfire: if discounts are too frequent, dopamine highs are lessened.

Retailers and manufacturers know that, and they have ways to override your blasé brain. Shoppers are increasingly becoming savvy, though; we’re getting better at “spotting the trick first.” We’re learning to fight back.

Take coupons, for instance.

In 2010, consumers saved almost $2 billion by using coupons. More than 60 percent of households in the United States use them today, including upper-income shoppers. Entire industries (and reality television) are based on little pieces of paper—and so, alas, is an increasing amount of crime and fraud.

But money-saving doesn’t stop with a snip of scissors. You can join one of those savings websites, and hope a big enough group wants to join you in a deal. If you know how to do it right, you can save scads of money on flights, hotels, clothing and shoes (even high-end designer kicks).

Smart realtors know how to wring more cash from a buyer, and buyers are learning to negotiate. And on that note, we’re frequently discovering that a haggle is no hassle.

In the meantime, merchants have learned to utilize our “purchase history” for better marketing. They’ve learned that we hate no-markdown stores. And they know that there’s no going back: bargain-hunting is definitely here to stay.

Can’t pass up a good sale? Are the words “marked down” like a balm on your soul? Then open your wallet, because you won’t be able to resist Bargain Fever, either.

With the gossipy tone of a sure insider and the information to match, Ellwood pokes around retail shelves and e-stores to teach us why we shop, how we buy, and why the rules are constantly changing for both seller and shopper. The facts that Elwood shares are fascinating and the secrets he spills are fun to know.

And that’s what makes this book so darn good—it’s got something for everybody here, no matter which side of the cash register you’re on, and no matter how much money you budget for shopping—that is, if you budget at all.

Either way, if you plan to spend money anywhere this holiday season, Bargain Fever is a book to reach for first.

BTown
More Words...
House Arrest
A Gentleman in Moscow

Living one’s entire life in a posh hotel sounds like the ultimate dream—think of the precocious children’s book character, Eloise, who ran rampant at the Plaza in New York, or Coco Chanel at Hôtel Ritz Paris in the 1930s. 

But what if you weren’t there by choice, rather as an…

more »
Vanishing Things
In search of the sacred

What if rather than proclaiming “I have a dream,” Martin Luther King Jr. said “I have a scientific study?”

What if rather than invoking a “table of brotherhood,” he invoked sociological statistics?

What if rather than calling out for all people to join hands and sing to be “free at…

more »
What Happened
Behind the scenes with Hillary Clinton

Your vote counts.

That’s what you head to the polls hoping: That your single vote matters out of millions, and that you’ll have a hand in history.

On that note, about last fall, Hillary Rodham Clinton has a few things to say, and in her new book, What Happened, you’ll notice first…

more »
Events
Today
Book Group Mixers

5:30pm|Village Books

Bringing history into sharp focus

10:00am

Fall Craft & Antique Show

10:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

U.S. Citizenship Class

6:00pm|Lynden Library

Balkan Folk Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

3MB

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

The Women of Lockerbie

7:00pm|Lynden Christian High School

Summer Bike Stories

7:00pm|Cafe Velo

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Bellingham Farmer’s Market
Tomorrow
Fall Craft & Antique Show

10:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

3MB

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

The Women of Lockerbie

7:00pm|Lynden Christian High School

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Stimpson Family Nature Reserve

Book and Bake Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Grand Opening and Open House

11:00am|Social Fabric

Books and Bites

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Clean Eating

2:00pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

Coffee Tasting

3:00pm|Camber Cafe

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|downtown Bellingham

Art Night

5:00pm|SpringHill Suites by Marriott

12 Minutes Max Auditions

5:00pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Amber Sky CD Release Party

6:00pm|Presence Studio

Gore & Lore Tours

6:00pm|Historic Fairhaven, downtown Bellingham

Falliday Vintage Market

6:00pm|Port Transit Event Center

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Wild & Scenic Film Festival

6:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Poetry Party

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Upstream

7:00pm|Village Books

USA Dance

7:00pm|Majestic

Thriller Dance Class

7:00pm|Moles Farewell Tributes

Halloween Movie Night

7:00pm|BHS Performing Arts Center

Friday Night Flicks

7:30pm|Van Zandt Community Hall

Sanford-Hill Piano Series

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Hellingham

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Holding the Light

8:00pm|Honey Moon

Bellingham Farmer’s Market Trove
Saturday
Fall Craft & Antique Show

10:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

3MB

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

The Women of Lockerbie

7:00pm|Lynden Christian High School

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Book and Bake Sale

10:00am|Lynden Library

Gore & Lore Tours

6:00pm|Historic Fairhaven, downtown Bellingham

Falliday Vintage Market

6:00pm|Port Transit Event Center

Hellingham

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Harvest Happens

8:00am|Bellewood Acres

Lynden Breakfast

8:00am|VFW Hall

Ferndale Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

NSEA Work Party

9:00am|Terrell Creek

Scarecrow Stuffing Contest

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Twin Sisters Farmers Market

9:00am|North Fork Library, Nugents Corner

Landscape stewards work party

9:00am|Chuckanut Center

Pumpkins 4 Pajamas

9:00am|Lakeway Fred Meyer

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Pumpkin Patch on Rails

9:00am|Wickersham Station

Port race ponders a wasted waterfront

9:30am

Everyday Superheroes 5K

10:00am|Squalicum Creek Park

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|H Street Plaza

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Bellingham Comicon

10:00am|Ferndale Event Center

Fall Family Fun

10:00am|Glen Echo Garden

Blaine Oktoberfest

10:00am|Blaine

Community Cider Pressing

10:00am|Chuckanut Center

98221 Studio Tour

10:00am|Fidalgo Island

Correspondence Club

10:30am|Mindport Exhibits

Enlightened Caterpillar

10:30am|Village Books

Holiday Gifts from the Kitchen

11:00am|Community Food Co-op

Crown Jewel Wilderness

11:00am|Western Washington University Bookstore

Mushrooms gone wild

12:00pm

Fidalgo Youth Symphony

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Conquering Writer's BLock

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Winter Birds of Whatcom County

2:00pm|Ferndale Library

Undersea Bubble Fantasia

2:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Brew on the Slough

5:00pm|Maple Hall

Community Library Celebration

5:00pm|North Fork Library

Bellingham Hoptoberfest

6:00pm|Bellingham Sportsplex

Seeds of Change

6:30pm|Edison Granary

The Great Unconformity

7:00pm|Village Books

Skagit Symphony's Gala Concert

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Whose Live Anyway?

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

The Tannahill Weavers

7:30pm|Littlefield Celtic Center

Original Comedy Night

8:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

see our complete calendar »

CWWarrenMiller Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books Mt. Baker Theatre Undersea Bubble Bellingham Farmer’s Market Trove