Thursday, December 4, 2008

I don't see how stores get away with it.

For a while I thought there were some ridiculously cheap people in New York City. Every Friday a plastic bag full of flyers appeared on my doorstep, advertising sales that started on Sunday. I'd casually flip through them and make mental notes of what to pick up the next time I passed one of these stores.

Rite Aid had the best bargains. Toothpaste, deodorant, mouthwash. Every week something I wanted was half price . . . if rebates didn't make it free.

By the time I got to the store, though, the shelves were bare. I'd drop by on Tuesday and find nothing. Monday, nothing. Finally I dragged myself there on Sunday afternoon and still left empty-handed.

I started to wonder: what kind of cheapsters race to the drug store on Sunday morning just to save a buck off Crest?

Nearly a month out of deodorant, I went to Rite Aid on a Saturday, the day before a Mitchum sale started. I'd take what I wanted and hide it, and then go back during the week. The clerk would eye my rare booty with shock, saying something like, "Wow, where did you find these?" and I'd bask in pride and say, "Gosh, just lucky, I guess!"

Except they were already out. Yup, coaxing us in with cheap prices when the store had absolutely zero in stock.

Furious -- and desperately in need of deodorant -- I went to Target. It's half an hour away, but I'd stock up so it'd almost be worth the time. Two bucks for Mitchum, their ad said. I found the right aisle and whereas Rite Aid would have had four inches of shelf space empty, Target had eight to ten feet.

Empty. Clean. Stripped by locusts bare.

All the blood in my body rushed to my head, and just before it exploded like an overheated teakettle I noticed little pads of paper below the empty shelves. Rainchecks. Yeah, like that'll help. Like somebody's going to come back in a couple weeks just to save a buck or two.

I'll show them, I thought, grabbing a raincheck. That's exactly what I'll do.

I waited in line twenty minutes to get the raincheck validated, then a couple weeks later went back. The shelves were overloaded now that Mitchum wasn't on sale: rows and rows of different types. Brimming with pride at my achievement, I grabbed five of them and strutted to the checkout. The clerk scanned my merchandise, then my raincheck. She shook her head. "This raincheck is for Lady Mitchum, floral fragrance," she announced. "It's not good for unscented men's."

And that's when my life flashed before my eyes.

All that effort. Hundreds of hours spent scanning ads. Dozens of visits to stores. Days and days wasted waiting in line. For nothing. And now, adding insult to injury, if I wanted to save five freakin' dollars I'd have to buy women's deodorant.

What a scam they had. Pulling customers in with promises of great prices. Sending them out with full-priced crap.

I wasn't falling for it.

I took the men's deodorant back and swapped them for five Lady Mitchum floral sticks. "Ring them up," I told the clerk. Eyeing the effeminate little containers I started to sweat, and for the last time I can remember I didn't smell like rose.

1 comment:

Dan G said...

Too funny!

Yeah, my parents are THOSE people.....they get the flyers that Sunday and have to go out right away to take advantage of the sales. So they end up buying 20 rolls of paper towels to save .50. When all they really needed was two rolls of paper towels.

And they aren't old enough to remember the Depression, so I can't blame it on that.

It's good to read some verification that rushing out to take advantage of these sales might be an unsatisfying use of time - since I never do it anyway but always wonder if I SHOULD.

Lady's deodorant has a nice, fresh scent to it - maybe it will work well for you?