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She knows a bargain when she sees one

August 18, 2003

When it comes to clothes and household goods, I freely admit I'm a bargain shopper. And not your average one, either. I start looking at the 50 percent off racks and go down from there. Several times I've had people say, "I want to go shopping with you! I can never find deals like you. What's your secret?"

I have stories about shopping successes that I love to tell; like the $38 blue jeans I paid $2.77 for and the $120 dress I bought for $19. Once I bought a skirt marked down several times with the final purchase price of $3. It was burgundy print and didn't go with anything in my closet. But at that price I hung it away and began looking for something to match. Then on another shopping trip I came across a top that went very well with it for less than $10. This gave me a $70 outfit for $13.

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I really enjoy telling these bargain hunting stories, but for every success story there's another story about shopping that ended up in a fiasco. Once I bought two pair of shoes of the same style in black and brown. At $9.99 each pair they were 80 percent off! They were a little tight but I just knew they would stretch. I ended up asking everyone that came to my house, "What's your shoe size?"

I bought my nephew some of those neat pants that zip off at the knee. It's a good thing they did, because they were so long he had to wear them zipped off for full-length pants.

My favorite shopping tale is about a shirt I bought recently for my husband, Ray, at Goodwill. Sometimes, I go to the Goodwill thrift store on my lunch break. People donate clothes not always because they're worn or stained. Often, it's because it's just time to clean out the closet or things just don't fit anymore. I have found many like-new items there. I once bought Ray a pair of Arnold Palmer golf shorts that still had the $40 price tag on them for $2.50.

Anyway, there was a barely worn Stafford long sleeved white button-down shirt in Ray's size. I grabbed it, looked around as though someone might try to take it from me, and hurried to the checkout counter. I was so pleased with my purchase. I paid $2.50, and at full retail it could have cost as much as $30.

When my husband came home from work that day I could barely contain my excitement. I told him about finding it and what it would have cost new. I held the shirt out for him to see, wanting him to try it on immediately. He had a strange look on his face and wouldn't even take the shirt from me.

"Kathy," he said. "Don't you remember? I cleaned out my closet last week and took all that stuff to Goodwill. That's my shirt. The sleeves were too short. You have bought back a shirt I donated!"

Oh, well. Maybe I can write off the $2.50 as a charitable contribution.

Kathy Johnica lives in Lincoln County.|8/17/03***

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