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You'd Better Shop Around

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Just like the song says, if you're going to get yourself a bargain, don't be sold on the very first one.

woman shocked looking at a receipt
Recession Mama: Today, I was at Target because I desperately needed a pair of Hello Kitty pajamas. (Boy, there's a line I never thought I'd write ...) My youngest is turning four and this item was number one on her list.

There are several Target stores nearby. I went to the first one and struck out, but picked up a couple of cute summer dresses for her ($3.50) and a bathing suit for my oldest ($5.48), both on clearance. I went to the next Target and found the pajamas, thank goodness. On my way out of the girls' section, I saw a front display of the same sundresses I bought at the last store. They were selling for $5.00! I hunted around for the bathing suit and found it, too. It was on clearance at this store, too, but selling for a dollar more, at $6.48.

Then, just to satisfy my curiosity (and because I apparently have way too much time on my hands), I went to a third Target. The prices were the same as at Target #2, but just as I had convinced myself that Target #1 was the Target to frequent, I spotted a pair of pink and orange Bermuda shorts on a clearance rack off to the side. They were marked $9.08. The same shorts were prominently displayed at Target #1 for $12.98.

I was outraged -- what was I supposed to do? Go to every Target within a thirty-mile radius every time one of my kids needed a shirt? I have since found that Costco, Kroger, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Abercrombie, and Banana Republic operate in the same fashion. Banana Republic is owned by Gap (and so is Old Navy), so they probably play fast and loose with their prices too. Was there no end to this?

It may have to do with the demographic where the store is located, or how much inventory they have. I found that most stores would price match, but if you found your item at another store, you might as well just buy it there and return the first item. If you don't find the exact same item (size and color), I don't think they will do a price match. What I decided to do was get a list together of what I most often purchase at Target, price the items at a few Targets, and make my final decision. I might visit one of the others to pick up an item or two if I was in the neighborhood, or if I couldn't find something at the other Target, but it wouldn't be my ONE. But for sure, now I'm telling all my friends to shop around ...

next: Sarah Palin -- Fishing for Fashion
3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Lindy July 10, 2009, 12:28 PM

It definiately does have to do with where it’s located. I go to 3 different Wal Marts. One is a Super WM in an affluent area and the prices are more expensive. I only go there if I want something from the food side that my local grocery store doesn’t have. The other two are closer to home and more reasonable in price and have more clearanced items.

The same with Target. One is in a more affluent area with higher prices and not alot of clearanced items as the other ones. I only go once in awhile if the other Targets don’t have something I need.

I have not noticed this with K Mart because they are dumpy no matter where they’re located.

Mom2two July 10, 2009, 3:17 PM

Thanks for this article. I assumed that the prices would be the same across the board (well, maybe not the whole chain but at least for stores within the same geographical area). Costco really surprises me because I read that their prices are based on a 15% markup over cost. I’ll have to pay closer attention.

ame i. July 10, 2009, 6:19 PM

I live in a TN town of approx. 100,000 people. We only have one Target (the next closest is 90 miles away), one K-mart, 2 Wal-marts. The Wal-mart on the south side of town does tend to have lower prices than the one on the north side, where I live. Isuspect it may have something to do with the fact that most of the doctors, attorneys, etc. live in the north side.
I’m neither, by the way, & married to a computer guy ;)

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