Retail Rationalization

Pair of ’50s vintage signed bird paintings

Back in the days when I we were penniless newlyweds, I started playing a game most women play. If I took my lunch to work, saving $3, then I would rationalize that I had $3 extra to spend on a whim, say, at a yard sale or junk shop. Or, if I used Sunday’s leftover roast chicken for a casserole later that week, that meant I had $5 to spend on a new lipstick. My shopaholic friend Paula helped me refine and hone my retail rationalization skills while I was a reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. At least once a week we would make a lunchtime pilgrimage to our dear, now departed, Rich’s Department Store, and our favorite spot, the fifth floor, home of the late, lamented Finale on Five Clearance Center. At Finale, items were marked down on the 1st and 15th of every month, and the longer the item stayed on the floor, the deeper it was discounted. Ah, the happy hours we spent there, trolling for bargains. I still have fond memories of the cute turquoise two-piece outfit I bought there for….90 cents? after it languished on the sale racks until it was discounted 90 percent off. Paula and I devised a strategy. If it fit, and the price was amazing, we would look at each other, shrug, and say “Jesus wants me to buy this.”
We all do this, right? After I began writing fiction, my retail rationalization took on a new form. If I gave a speech and earned an honorarium, that money, unlike the money I earn from writing books, was destined to be “Fun Money”. The antique secretary I showed on a recent post? That was bought with fun money from a speech. Recently, I flew down to the Florida Panhandle for a signing at Sundog Books in Seaside. Lovely store, by the way. You should definitely schedule a vacation at Seaside just to shop at Sundog, where customers are welcome to bring their canine companions to shop. Lots of times when I’m on tour, I rent a car to get around. But this time, my publisher had arranged for a car service to pick me up at the airport and deliver me to the airport. The only problem with this? It would mean my junking opportunities would, theoretically, be limited. Notice I said “theoretically?”. Fortunately, I had a junk stop in mind: Smith’s Antique Mall in Destin. And my driver was happy to drop me off for a little retail therapy. I strolled around, happy as a pig in mud. I’d been to Smith’s many times before when our family, along with several other families, spent spring break at nearby Grayton Beach. At Smith’s, I paused before a pair of striking ’50s paintings of tropical birds. I seem to have a thing for tropical birds. And this pair was big, and lovely, and signed. They seemed to call to me: “Take me to Tybee. Take me to Tybee.” They were reasonably priced, plus, by asking nicely, I got a ten percent discount. Hmm. The retail rationalization began to kick in. But I wavered. And then I remembered, I had a nice fat check coming from the “Big Azz Attic Sale” I’d held at Seaside Sisters back in June. I actually purged my basement and attic and sold lots of stuff I’d been hoarding. So, really, look at all the money I’d saved. Those paintings were meant to be mine. Right? And I did have all that “fun money” rolling in. Right? Retail Rationalization at its finest. And for our next lesson in Retail Rationalization? Watch for “My husband spent $600 on a new putter–so I deserve to spend that much on my stuff.”

2 thoughts on “Retail Rationalization”

  1. My favorite retail rationalization is that I'm spending my (Birthday, Christmas, whatever money) and I will buy something. Then I see something else and say wait no THIS is from my Birthday money…I can make $50 turn into $100 easily this way!! Hey what ever works!

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