Category Archives: shopping

First up, Shopping!

After I dropped my bags and decided what could use a visit at the laundromat, I stopped at the front desk and asked them about a lavanderia (laundromat) since I wasn’t about to pay hotel prices. They offered to take my things there. I told them I was happy to take the walk if they told me where I needed to go. they wouldn’t hear of it and promised to return everything to me by the morning.

This timing was important since I would be leaving Cordoba the next afternoon and would need my clothes.

Sidebar: I would be heading to Mendoza. No plans were made but I figured I would have the evening to sort that out.

Now was the time to take in my amazing (and luxurious) surroundings, and then explore Cordoba.

My day would consist of shopping, sightseeing and swimming! Because the shops would close in the early afternoon and remain closed for the rest of the weekend, I decided to hold off on my pool time until after shopping and sightseeing!

First up, shopping!

I took my directions and headed to the main shopping street. It wasn’t a far walk and I knew when I had arrived. It seemed like everyone (and their mother, literally) was outside on the main shopping street.

lots of people

I had a mission. I needed to buy a nice outfit. The word nice was very flexible at this point, but I wanted to purchase a skirt that would ‘dress me up’ a little bit. Fear not, my shoes were hiking shoes, or flip-flops so fancy I was not looking for. Since it was Saturday, I had only a few hours before the shops closed for the rest of the weekend.

I knew I was looking for a vestir (dress) or falda (skirt).

I popped in and out of a few shops. I was always asked what I was looking for and I’d be shown to a rack and left alone. In one shop, the owner asked and I replied. As it had happened in other shops, she walked away and I figured that was that.

Just a few seconds later, she brought (or maybe dragged) her daughter (probably 12 or 13 years old) over and encouraged her to speak to me. At first the young girl was shy and probably didn’t understand what her mom was doing. Neither did I.

To humor the mom, and what I realized were her friends who either worked at the shop, or were hanging out, I tried to engage the girl in conversation — in Spanish. Once she realized my native language was English, she couldn’t stop talking. She seemed to want to practice her English and I was more than happy to oblige. It seemed like everyone knew everyone and I felt like we were being watched by half the store.

Knowing that I unintentionally isolated myself in a hotel instead of a hostel, I was likely to be on my own for the evening. I welcomed the conversation, and the shopping help.

After she asked what I was looking for, her first question was: Why didn’t you pack a skirt?

I then had to explain that I was backpacking. The only problem was, I didn’t know the word for backpack and she didn’t know what backpack was.

So came in, the always fun and amusing, charades. I made the motion of putting a backpack on and looking lost. She quickly got it.

There, in that shop, was the first time I heard the word that described me — mochilera. A backpacker.

I taught my new friend a new word, backpack, and she taught me my new word, mochilera.

We pulled a few things off the racks and she stood outside the dressing room — which was a curtain in the middle of the store. It seemed that business was at a standstill because they wanted us to continue our conversation. Each time I pulled the curtain, someone had an opinion. It was like being a contestant on a reality show. Since our vocabulary was limited it was either a smile and a head nod, or a shake of the head which meant no. My new teenager friend was translating for me the other side comments but I got the gist and divided the clothes into maybe or no racks.

It came down to two skirts, and we, or maybe the rest of the store, decided on a pretty purple and black skirt. I bought it and said goodbye and thank you to (essentially) half the shop. I felt like a local walking down the main street with my purchase. Though it seemed on that Saturday everyone had bags and bags of things!

As I was warned at the hotel, the shops began to shut down and roll down their gates minutes before I was warned they would. I saw the streets go from crowded to just a couple of stragglers, including me. See this picture on the left? The gates came down before I left this little outdoor mall and I had to duck through that little hole before they closed them up.

closing up empty street


Is it a December to Remember?

We’ve all seen them. The December to Remember commercials. With the easily identifiable theme music and the cheesy situations, the commercials play over and over and over.

I think they are so annoying. Whether I like it or not, the commercials are successful because I remember them. I can identify their music, I know what the offer is and they bother me.

I worked in advertising, I know good or bad, so long as there’s recall, there’s a happy client.

Even though most of these commercials annoy me, there’s one that stands out. And the first time I saw it, I think I even got a little choked up.

It’s the one where the family of four is playing a version of Guitar Hero and when it’s the mom’s turn, of course her song is the easily identifiable song. Her face changes to shock/happiness and they go outside to see the new car. Cheesy I know but it gets me every time.

On the flip side who is surprising someone with a car in this economy? It’s a pretty big investment for one person to pick out all the details and assume the recipient’s tastes. What if it’s a practical problem? What if the recipient is short and can’t see over the steering wheel. Or what if it’s an aesthetic thing? What if the recipient doesn’t like the color?

That’s 36 months of payments for something someone may not even fit in, or like! I guess if someone is buying someone a car, you gracefully accept it but it’s a pretty ballsy investment for the giver to give. What happened to a sweater? Or a book?


Banana Cream Pie

Ok, so I told you about the new REI location that recently opened in Soho. I didn’t tell you what I bought because I know you probably just don’t care.

But I have to share one purchase. Do you know what I did buy? It wasn’t on my shopping list but it was just too irresistable to pass up…

Sidenote: the boyfriend LOVES bananas. LOVES.

I was wandering around the store and came across the wall, yes the wall – an entire wall, that was dedicated to hiker food.

Hiker food: the kind where you mix in cold or hot water and let it sit to create a meal. The meals are in similar packaging that astronaut food comes in. When you squeeze the package it feels like flakes inside.

There were so many options…beef chili or black beans with rice or a Mexican omelette. And then there were desserts.

I found one called Banana Cream Pie.

Just add water! Of course now my curiousity was piqued, and it was only $5 so of course I had to buy it.

I showed it to the boyfriend later that night and he was hardly as amused as I was. We haven’t tried it yet. Personally I’m not as big of a fan of banana, or banana cream pie or adding water to make an instant meal – but challenge accepted.

Stay tuned for a post about it when we do open and ‘cook’ it.


REI Soho

It’s about time. An REI in my backyard!

It’s taken over the historic Puck Building which has angered some people, that big business has taken over. But, what’s better – an empty gorgeous building, or a retailer that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the island?

No more traveling to East Hanover, New Jersey or Tempe or Tucson, Arizona to wander around one of my favorite stores.

I stopped by the store a few days after the grand opening and the store was gorgeous. The loft space was incredible. The staff was helpful. And there was so. much. stuff!

It was about an hour before I checked the time and realized that I had been wandering for nearly an hour! I had stopped by with the intention of picking up just a few things but the sheer space (it’s three floors!) kept me looking at everything, and then some!

Do you know there are portable toilets for sale? Like fold it up and stuff it in a bag when you are done kind of portable toilets. (Was not, and will never be on my to buy list).

Can’t wait to go back to check out their classes and outdoor activities planned for the local area.

Have you been? Are you going to go? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.


12 days of gifts courtesy of BootsnAll

You may recall my Indie Travel Project from BootsnAll. Now…now they are giving away 12 days of gifts!

Today is day two. I loved yesterday’s giveaway and I am excited to see what the next ten days of giving brings.

Check it out!


Cyber Monday Winners and Losers

Cyber Monday is the online shopping equivalent of Black Friday. Since I am not a fan of crowds and early morning wake ups and there’s nothing I absolutely must have, I did not feel any urge to go shopping on Black Friday.

But of course I wanted to check out the deals offered from my favorite retailers on Cyber Monday from the comfort of my computer. I was bombarded with emails promising big savings and my Facebook feed was overloaded by retailers trying to entice me to check out their wares.

I only checked out stores I like but even then there’s bound to be some winners and some losers. Here’s my recap.

Winners 🙂

Magellans

This amazing travel store offered an amazing deal. If you spend over $50, you get free shipping. If you spend over $100, get 20% off your total purchase. I had no problem spending $100. In my excitement, I goofed and ordered two things in the same color. Instead of calling and editing with a person who would probably be overwhelmed, I just redid the order, called customer service and asked them to cancel the first, which they happily did, and since I did it quickly, my card doesn’t even get charged twice.

A+

Stash tea

Long a favorite online site of mine, Stash had a very small discount on a tea set I have had my eye on for a while. It wasn’t the greatest ‘deal’ but I got suckered in by the site and also added a full price item to my order. You dangled free shipping, and voila, an order was placed. 

A

Ebags

Another favorite of mine and a customer service superstar. The PacSafe I had been eyeing was discounted 25% with free shipping. I must have been so excited that I accidentally clicked ‘place order’ twice. One simple phone call, not a long wait, and just one PacSafe is en route.

A+

Losers 😦

Ann Taylor Loft

Oh Loft. Poor poor Loft. Your site went down…on Cyber Monday. In fact your site goes down every.single.time. there is a sale. You kept adding fuel to the fire by posting images of clothes (that people couldn’t buy) on Facebook, which only enraged your customers.

Your day was like a train wreck and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I was so intrigued that I monitored your Facebook feed throughout the day and boy, are people passionate about their clothes. 

Your online shopping site is normally annoying because you can only click on one item at a time instead of opening different pages to shop more easily. It was especially annoying on Cyber Monday because the site was slow and at some times failing to load properly.

Also, the way you manage your online inventory is problematic because you are usually only left with sizes 0, 2, 16 and 18, which leaves out the rest of us who fall somewhere in the middle.

On my way home I even stopped at your store in Times Square (G-d help me) because I wanted to pick up another pair of your Marisa petite black pants that I love. The store was insane (probably filled with the people who couldn’t get online) and I get easily frustrated with shopping anyway so I gave up and left empty handed.

I also realized that even with your 50% off sale, the pants were still a whopping $20 more than I paid when I paid ‘full price’ and a 20% coupon a mere month ago. Raising your prices to ‘discount’ them? Fail.

You need a new server, a new social media team and a new e-tailer strategy. And know that your customers are smarter than you think.

Loft, I will continue to shop with you because your petite pants fit me perfectly without a visit to the tailor but I will not waste any more of my time on your website. 

F (and I still don’t have a second pair of the Marisa pant)

Converse

Oh Converse, I’m already a huge fan with my off-white high-top and grey low-top Chucks. I wanted (note: not needed) another pair of low-tops and a pair of slip-ons. I think you may have raised your prices, to say that there was a sale. I don’t recall Chucks being $55.

So if you were raising prices to discount them, that’s a no no. Your free shipping offer was nice but I think you normally have free shipping offers on regular shopping days so I declined to place an order.

Like I said, I don’t need another two pairs of Converse, I merely wanted them. And if you’re upping the price so you can reduce it to still more than the normal price, well I can wait.

D

Pottery Barn

You and your no coupon policy annoys the crap out of me.  The item I want, two of them actually, are $79 each. I was willing to spend the money had you offered me a coupon so I could feel like I wasn’t paying your inflated full price. 

I commend you because you FINALLY offered free shipping (because this item is only available online) but I can wait you out Pottery Barn. I’ve had my eye on this for months. I’m sure it will be discontinued soon. But I will take my chances and I will wait.

D

Recap — To my winners, you rock and I will always be loyal. To my losers, I still love your products, but you failed on Cyber Monday, in my opinion. I have not received anything yet, so hopefully my three orders (from the winners) will arrive on time and intact. I am hopeful.

For the record, free shipping is the cost of entry for Cyber Monday so that should be a given.

Readers — Did you encounter any winners and losers in your shopping excursions on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday or in the weekend between? Share your story in the comments below.


Locked out

Who forgets keys? Me!

It was raining so I couldn’t even just wait it out on a bench, so instead I decided to wander in the local CVS. There was so much that I could have purchased, but the thought of carrying it eight blocks in the pouring rain, even with my golf umbrella, does not bode well for me.

Plus my rewards card is on my keys.

Instead I decided to wander in the supermarket which is essentially across the street from my apartment building.

A couple of things I noticed as I wandered around to kill time:

  • Why does supermarket keep bottles of soy sauce on such high shelves?
  • Why do they keep the bags for your umbrellas in the middle of the store? Not near either entrance?
  • What demotes something to the  absolute bottom shelf? I mean I know companies pay for eye level or even kid eye level but do the companies with the stuff on the bottom just say ‘screw it if people really want to buy it, they will hunt us down anyway.’

To top it all off I wrote down notes for this post as I waited outside my apartment door for the boyfriend to come home as I was eating string cheese (total impulse buy) that I had just bought right outside of my door

That’s right. Keeping it classy.


Tricks, for the Treat of Cheap Airfare!

Here’s a Halloween treat for you! I always get asked about finding the best airfare – what day, how do I find it, etc.

Thanks to one of my favorite travel websites, AirfareWatchdog.com, here are your answers in one consolidated place!

In addition to the tips in the link, I’d like to add just a few more tricks.

1 – Look at the airport’s website to see if there are smaller, local airlines that may fly your route. These smaller airlines may not show up on the big search engines. Examples of these are Allegiant Air and Sun Country.

Sun Country does have layovers in Minneapolis so you might want to think about the time of year if your final destination is not MSP…which brings me to point number two.

2 – If you are going to have a connection,  try to avoid cold weather cities, in the winter. You don’t want to be flying from Boston to LA, only to get stuck in Chicago thanks to a snowstorm. Try looking at connecting through cities in warmer climates during the winter!

My sister once had an opportunity to get bumped, and get a free ticket, from a cross-country flight. She was supposed to have a layover in Houston. It was wintertime. They rerouted her through Chicago. I figured she was going to get stuck in Chicago. Not so. But I still wouldn’t have taken the chance. Ok, for a free ticket, maybe 😉

3 – Always try to avoid layovers in NYC.

Maybe it’s because the ‘big three’ are my home airports but ugh, ugh and more ugh.

4 – Be flexible with your airports and get creative. Flying into the Big Apple, you have at least three options. Flying to Miami? Also take a look at West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Want to avoid the big airports of Vancouver or Seattle? Look at Bellingham, Washington.

Last year the boyfriend and I were flying from EWR to PHX for Thanksgiving — and as expected airfare was a fortune. We were flexible with dates and were able to fly on Tuesday night – which was still very expensive.

Do you know it cost less for us to fly EWR to LAS (yes, Vegas), spend the night and then get one way tickets (it’s only an hour flight so whoever had the cheapest fare won) from LAS to PHX on the Wednesday morning? For the return, I was able to secure a nonstop flight from PHX into EWR.

Even with the additional expenses: cab fare from the airport to the Strip, one night in a hotel AND a cab back to the airport in the morning — I still saved a few hundred dollars, making this convoluted trip well worth it.

We were delayed arriving in Vegas but everything else ran smoothly. Had we experienced a delay leaving Vegas, I might be singing a different tune.  And if you are wondering, I didn’t lose that saved money in the casinos either.

Hope these tricks help you score a great treat and Happy Halloween!


Why I hate shopping

Yes, it’s true. I prefer online shopping because I can do it in my pajamas, there aren’t any rude people knocking into me, I don’t have to see that the last shirt in my size is in a ball on the floor in the dressing room and I can fill up my shopping bag and come back later.

In store I am forced to ask these questions:

  • Why do stores hang clothes so high that only seven-foot models can pull it off without bringing the whole rack down?
  • How do stores expect me to dig through neatly folded sweaters without creating a total mess when I’ve got a whole lot of clothes hanging over one arm?
  • Why is the petite section the most disorganized section in the store?
  • Why are jeans in the regular height people section jeans displayed so the sizes are clearly showing without making a mess like the said sweaters yet in the petite section they are on hangers with the sizes facing the wall?
  • Why is the store filled to the brim with clothes and displays making me a bull in a china shop? (I know the answer to this – to maximize retail space!)

Ann Taylor LOFT, this time I am talking to you. But I love your clothes, I think your staff is actually helpful, your dressing rooms are clean and you have great coupons. But your store, one of the only womens clothing stores in Manhattan I will voluntarily venture into, stresses me out.

But let’s put this into perspective – at least I go into your store. I refuse to venture into Macy’s in NYC unless absolutely, positively necessary. In nearly 10 years working in New York City, I can count on my hands how many times I have walked into that store — and it’s usually with tourist friends who want to see it. So Ann Taylor LOFT — you’re not THAT bad.


Targeted Marketing. Or is it?

I get loads of direct mail marketing. Then I have to call and tell them I like to be green so could they just send me an email instead.

But Macy’s, they really like me. They send me tons of coupons and ‘personalized’ catalogs that are based on my interests and recent purchases.

I know they probably spent a lot of money to find out who I am while tracking my Macy’s card purchases to come up with a targeted mailer. Between you and me, I know my recent past purchases are shoes and dresses. Not much diversity there.

They repeatedly send me a personalized mailer of things they think I would want to purchase. Which really? I don’t.

Of course because it’s personalized, I am intrigued because maybe they do know what I will want before I know myself. So maybe something is working.