Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sale news - check Bargainista on Twitter

If you’ve been following Bargainista for a while, you know I’ve moved most of the sale news to Twitter.

For newer readers, read this: Why I use Twitter and why you should too!


Technorati tags: bloggingFacebookmicro-bloggingsocial networkingTwitter

Friday, June 29, 2007

Tip of the Week - check all price stickers

My eldest son is an avid RUSH fan. He picked up a copy of Snakes & Arrows, their latest cd and RUSH – a show of hands, a dvd of a late ’80s concert.

HMV does a great job of promoting specially priced deals with bright yellow price stickers and signs in their stores. They don’t do such a good job of ensuring the customer is actually getting a lower price - at least not at one location. You see, the dvd had a bright yellow sticker on the front for $12.99; the regular price sticker on the back was marked $11.99.

The guys at the cash wanted to charge the higher amount...
“That’s the amount marked and the one that's being picked up by our computer.”

“Sorry, but all these dvds have $11.99 price stickers. Aren’t you supposed to charge the lower price?” my son asked.

“Well, not really but we will sell it to you at that price.” WTF?
Anyway, the point of the story is to check for regular price tags and don’t get suckered in by the fancy promos.

Can you relate? Has something like this ever happened to you? Leave a comment?

Technorati tags: HMV, marketing, RUSH

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Weekly wish - sponsorship

You may already know I’m participating in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer on September 8 and 9. I need at least one new pair of running shoes. A new outfit or two would also be nice. I’m particularly concerned about the shoes because I have a tough time finding comfortable ones that fit.

For the last several years, women (and men) from all over the province converge in Toronto (and six other Canadian cities) and walk 60km over two days. They must raise at least $2,000 in sponsorships and pay an entry fee in order to participate, not to mention the countless hours they spend training for the event.

Sounds like a great sponsorship opportunity to me. Only I’ve never seen any corporate sponsors actually sponsoring individual participants or teams. Have you?

So, if you’re reading this, I wear a size 9 (sometimes 9.5). If your shoes fit, I’ll wear them. I’ll also wear your clothes and acccessories, heck I’ll even paint a big swoosh across my forehead if you’ll sponsor me. In exchange, I’ll let all my readers know. I’ll wear your stuff and promote your brand each and every time I practice and maybe some other times too.

Let me know if you’re interested. You know where to find me. ; )

And to all of you reading the blog, you’re welcome to sponsor me too!

Technorati tags: Nike swoosh, running shoes, sponsorship, walking, The Weekend to End Breast Cancer, training

Monday, June 25, 2007

TaB energy falls flat

The pitch:
Last month, I received this interesting pitch from a PR agency:
“...We’re delighted to tell you about an exclusive opportunity.

We would love to send you a package to host a girls-party on us! Your Fuel to be Fabulous party would contain everything you’d need to throw a little get-together for your girls (it can be as swish or as casual as you like). The kit contains fun swag, games, cute napkins, straws etc and TaB Energy Drink. There’s also a pre-loaded credit card for you to pick up other stuff you might need.

All you do is round up your friends, host a little soiree then register online to let us know how it went (it’s a private site, not at all publicly accessible – you can invite your friends on to check out party pics you post, or post comments…..etc).

The real icing on the cake? Host your soiree and register online before August 27, 2007 you’ll be entered to win a trip for two to New York City (flight, hotel, spa treatments and spending cash)!

To participate, just email me back with your full contact information including shipping address, phone and email. If you have questions, let me know!”
The party:
I was planning a real-life gathering for some of my After a Fashion friends at Cozy Nails, I decided to accept the offer and host a TaB energy Fuel to be Fabulous party. Only one problem, the package never arrived.

A few weeks later, the gals (or “fabulous girls” as TaB Energy calls us) felt it was time for another manicure-pedicure meet-up at Cozy Nails. I wrote to my contact at the PR agency. This time, the package arrived on time.

After Cozy Nails, we headed off to SoHo Bistro for a quick bite on the patio. We set up the perfect party table with all of our goodies from TaB Enegy. Everything was so TaB Energy pink – even our waitress! Jenny loved TaB energy and scored all the leftovers and the coupons for 12 cans at 25 cents each. Watch the video interview:

Despite an onerous amount of instructions, I still don’t know how to access the private website where I’m supposed to upload our photos etc. I also don’t know how to activate the pre-loaded Amex card I received for $25 (I’m donating it on behalf of the group to the United Way, that’s a whole other story.)

As for TaB Engery, the group reaction was mixed. As for me, I get enough of a buzz from drinks with the usual amount of caffeine so I’ll pass on the 80mg in every can of TaB Energy. After a taste test, I can understand why women are mixing it with vodka but I’m not advocating that either. ; )

Have you tried TaB Energy? What did you think?

A big shout out to Kathryn Lagden for providing her fine photography and videography talents.

Thanks to all the participants:
Katharine Came, June Li, Michelle Tampoya, Jenny Bullough, Kathryn Lagden, and Kate Trgovac and Joy Boyson, who joined us the first time around.

Stay tuned for my follow-up post on TaB Energy Make-out-mints.

Update (Nov. 27, 2007): I was asked to remove part of the pitch letter and obliged.

Technorati tags: blogger relations, Cozy Nails, Jenny Bullough, June Li, Katharine Came, Kathryn Lagden, Mentos and Diet Coke, Michelle Tampoya, Moxie Promotions, PR, SoHo Bistro, TaB Energy, United Way, Veritas Communications, YouTube

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Check out chocolate Tylenol for kids

I don’t usually plug drugs but after enduring the weekend watching my little one suffering with a bad bout of strep throat, I just have to tell you about chocolate Tylenol.

My little guy was so sick he didn’t want to take anything for his fever. His throat was killing, his tummy ached. The bottle of grape flavoured Tylenol in our medicine cupboard just wasn't doing it for him.

So, I caved, spent double the dough and picked up a box of Children's Tylenol with Flavor Creator. It’s your basic bottle of unflavoured children’s liquid Tylenol along with 20 flavour packs (strawberry, apple, bubble gum and believe-it-or-not, chocolate).

Well guess what? My little critic loves the chocolate flavour and has since tried the others. According to him, apple is okay, strawberry is yucky and chocolate is by far the best. The verdict is still out on bubble gum - for what I’ve paid for this stuff I sure hope it’s tasty because the pack comes with twice as many bubble gum flavour packs as the others.

I’m just glad my little one is starting to feel better and his fever is gone.

Technorati tags: Children’s Tylenol with Flavor Creator, drugs, medicine, pain relievers, strep throat

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tip of the Week: clothing swap

Have any great clothes or accessories you don’t want anymore? Want to replace them without spending a dime? If so, don’t miss...

Tip: Make sure your items are like new or truly vintage. Be prepared to have fashionistas review and possibly reject your items. The better the things you bring; the better the things you can take.

What? Clothing Swap 4 Hipster Chicks
Clothing Swap Party
Open Bar and DJ!!!
Talk about recycling!

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
12 Alexander St.
Between Wellesley and College subways

Drop-off hour: noon-1 p.m.
Clothing Swap Frenzy: 1 p.m. -3 p.m.

RSVP and Guidelines:

Technorati tags: Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, clothing swap, ToronotoStreetFashion

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dear Bargainista - #12

Debra from Toronto writes:
My son’s grade six graduation is coming up. He wants to wear a suit or a sports jacket. He’s growing like crazy so I know he’ll only be able to wear it once or twice. Do you know where I can find a stylish boys’ suit or sports jacket for a reasonable price?

Hi Debra,

Congratulations on your son’s graduation. It sounds like he has good taste! I can barely get my sons to wear anything but t-shirts and shorts this time of year.

The Bay sells basic navy and grey boys’ suits for about $100.

You can find better quality items and more designer labels at Crawford Boys at Lawrence Plaza, Beatties Boys’ & Mens’ Clothing and Le Club both on Eglinton West.

If you don’t mind previously-loved clothing, try Play ’n Wear. It’s a resale store and timing is everything but it’s a good spot for barely worn designer kids’ wear at very reasonable prices. Let me know what you find.

Have a shopping question you’d like to ask? Leave a comment.


Dear Bargainista would love to hear from you too! Have a question about shopping, fashion or food? E-mail us.

Technorati tags: The Bay, Crawford Boys, graduation, Lawrence Plaza, Beatties Boys’ & Mens’ Clothing, Le Club Mens Wear, Play ’n Wear

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Weekly wish - CHANEL

Those of you who know me know I’m not one for wearing haute couture. I’m satisfied with the simple things in life.

I’m not a high-maintenance girl but ever since I can remember, I’ve loved the sophisticated, simple elegance of Chanel. That goes for anything Chanel: clothes, purses, shoes, jewellery, fragrances, you name it!

Chanel has always been a fashion innovator but did you know Chanel is also innovative in it’s use of social media? Check out the videos on the website. You can even subscribe to podcasts on iTunes. Talk about being a pioneer!

Coco Chanel is considered the greatest influence on fashion in the 20th Century. Who wouldn’t love to own a little piece of her collection - vintage or new? I know I would, wouldn’t you?

You guessed it, this week I’m wishing for just a little bit of Chanel to call my own. I think I’ll have to settle for a download of the Chanel Beauty and Fashion Podcast - it’s free. And, if you live in the UK, you can even book a beauty appointment at the Brompton Road location and pick up some free samples! Check out the podcast for details.

Do you own authentic Chanel? Have you checked out the videos or podcasts? What do you think?

Technorati tags: Chanel, iTunes, London, podcast, video

Zola Midsummer Dream Warehouse Sale

Check out Zola’s first annual Midsummer Dream Warehouse Sale:

Opening night shopping party
Up to 80% off all seasons
Enjoy treats & party favors

Thursday, June 21: 8:00 p.m. - midnight!
Sale continues through July 8

1726 Avenue Rd., Toronto (map)

Technorati tags: zola

Monday, June 18, 2007

Toronto Fashion Bloggers Brunch VII - Sun., June 24

You’re invited! Calling all local fashion bloggers or fashion blog lovers:

Toronto Fashion Bloggers Brunch (TFBB)

461 King St. W. (map)

June 24, 2007
11:30 a.m.

The TFBB gang and friends. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make this one.

RSVP by logging on to

Technorati tags: Brassaii, blogging, fashion, social media, TFBB,

Friday, June 15, 2007

Tip of the Week - upgrading a BBQ

Just in time for Father’s Day, I thought I’d kick off this series with a tip about BBQs...

I wanted to buy my husband a BBQ for Father’s day, but he bought me one a few weeks ago for our anniversary instead.

He learned a tip I’m going to share with you... you can upgrade a BBQ. I had no clue, did you?

He was going to buy a more expensive model but was told he was better off buying a less expensive model, spending an additional $90 and upgrading the grills.

In the end, it probably cost him the same amount of money as the higher-priced model but he ended up with a better quality BBQ. Works for me, how about you?

Do you have a BBQ tip to share? What are you doing for Father’s Day? What's your favorite Father’s Day Gift? Leave a comment.

Technorati tags: BBQ, Father’s Day

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Weekly wish - a personalized necklace from Citrus Silver Products

I woke up early this morning and had time to net surf before work. I checked out this week’s Sweetdeals on Sweetspot and learned about Citrus Silver Products.

The idea of having the names of my kids stamped on a piece of my jewellery is quite appealing. Until now, the items I’ve seen just haven’t been my style.

Enter Citrus, a Toronto-based jeweler who hand-stamps names and significant dates on hand-made sterling silver pendants in several awesome designs and a selection of chains to choose from. All merchandise is sold only on their website, it isn’t available in stores.

I’m wishing for my own personalized pendant (and chain) from Citrus so I can wear my boys’ names wherever I go. Not one for following routine, I decided to do something a bit different this week. Since I got a code from Sweetspot to save 25% off the chain, I was going to get my wish and order a “tart” or “zing” pendant with the “thin ball” chain. (FYI, the discount code is WOSL2 and the offer is valid through July 7.)

I went through the steps:
set up an account
chose a pendant
typed in my boys names
added any additional notes
chose a chain (including length)
chose another pendant as a gift
went to the checkout
checked my order
typed in the discount code
decided to change my order– whoops! – trouble begins

When I saw the total, I decided I would only get one pendant and chain. I went back to update my order but I couldn’t! I followed the instructions – they were pretty simple – just put a checkmark in the box beside the item I no longer wanted and click on “Update”. I tried several times but my order didn’t change. Oops! They lost me at the checkout.

I’m not giving up. I think this is a really great product, reasonably priced, locally designed and I want one! This week I’m still wishing for a personalized pendant from Citrus. So, I’m going to e-mail a copy of this post to the designer and see what happens. I’ll keep you posted. ; )

UPDATE: I’m now the proud owner wearer of a zing pendant with my both my boys’ names. It took a bit of perseverance but after a few tries and an IT fix on Citrus Silver’s end, I ordered my new necklace. I even ordered a pendant with my nephews’ names as a gift for my sister.

The items came gift wrapped in a lime coloured gift box with a pretty fuchsia bow and a postcard with a handwritten note from Karen (the designer) on one side and “Citrus Silver Care” instructions on the other.

Technorati tags: Citrus Silver Products, Sweetspot

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wild Wednesday: 50% off at Goodwill

Goodwill Wild Wednesday
Save 50% off most merchandise (some exclusions)
New items arriving hourly.
Great way to reduce, reuse and recycle!

Find a location near you.

Wild Wednesday June 13
Check stores for hours.

If you go, let us know what you think. What did you get? How much did you save?

Technorati tags: bargains, clothing, furniture, Goodwill, Wild Wednesday, sales, shopping

Sometimes it pays to spend more

Sometimes it’s worth spending an extra couple of dollars. It all depends on how you define value.

On Sunday, I took my kids out for a walk along Bayview. Being with the boys, we didn’t enter any of the cool clothing or accessory shops. Instead we went to a wonderful bookstore - The Flying Dragon - one of the few independents left in the city. I gladly bought my son a book even though I have a discount and gift card at the big box bookstore, you know which one I mean. ; )

Next we stumbled upon a nondescript no-frills shop, Strategy Games and Accessories. My 8-year-old found the TipOver game he wanted. I had promised him something special earlier that day. He’s become acutely aware of prices. (Hmm, maybe it has something to do with having a mom also known as Bargainista.) So, he quickly pointed out the game was less expensive than it had been at a store where he’d seen it the day before, but still more expensive than our neighbourhood toy store. We decided to stop there on our way home but had a change in plans...

After speaking with the man running the store, we learned it was part of a non-profit organization. The Chess’n Math Association runs chess clubs in schools in Ontario and Quebec. (My younger son is a member; my older son used to belong.) The man looked up an obscure game my son had played in school. It wasn’t available anymore. He told us about - a game rating website - he’d try and find us a new copy of the game even though it hasn’t been manufactured in years.

I couldn’t get the boys out of the store. They shared some brainteasers with him and he reciprocated. So much for our walk! In the end, I bought my son his game right then and there - an additional $3 well spent.

Technorati tags: chess, Chess’n Math Association, Strategy Games and Accessories, The Flying Dragon

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Stones 4 the Soul

Samantha Steen is a talented jewellery designer with an interesting concept: Stones 4 the Soul. Her 30” long necklaces are hand-made using semi-precious stones. Each design has individual healing powers.

Samantha has written a different poem for each design explaining their healing powers. Here’s what she wrote about the “Peace” necklace pictured:
Amethyst will bring mental peace and harmony to your core
Being over worked and over stressed will happen no more
By the calming mental affect that illuminates from this purple stone
Promoting unity and connection, so one does not feel so alone
It focuses on healing, moving away from physical and emotional pain
Feel compelled to wear an amethyst stone around a silver plated chain
Prices range from $40-$50. Currently, these special works of art aren’t available at any stores. They are sold through jewellery parties or you can contact Samantha directly if you like what you see. Learn more about her collection on her new website.

Have you ever been to a jewellery party? What did you buy? Leave a comment.

Disclosure: Samantha’s mother is my friend but I wouldn't write about her necklaces if I didn’t like them, promise.

Technorati tags: Samantha Steen, Stones 4 the Soul

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Yonge Lawrence Village Day & Sidewalk Sale

I live in a vibrant community-oriented neighbourhood. After the ravages of last night’s storm, including a power outage, broken trees and other debris all over the ground, nothing is getting in the way of a couple celebrations.

The annual Cranbrooke street sale is on. It’s my favourite street sale in the neighbourhood. There are always lots of participants and tons of great stuff like books, toys, clothes, furniture, housewares and collectibles sold for next to nothing.

I’ve lived in the area for almost 8 years and this year’s Yonge Lawrence Village Day & Sidewalk Sale is the most vibrant one I’ve ever seen.

Many merchants have started their end-of-season sales and still have lots of bargain racks for you to sift through on the sidewalk. It’s not all about shopping though. There are street entertainers for the kids, free treats and chances to win gift certificates.

Paradise Comics has 25% off today. My son and I stopped in to stock up for camp. Comicon is on and had there not been a street festival, they would have been closed. A lot of their inventory was at the conference along with their debit and credit card machines. I didn’t have enough cash and had to go to the bank machine and back for my purchase. Not sure everyone would be so understanding. I hope they learn from their mistakes.

I was most impressed by a group of girls who set up a table to raise awareness and collect money for STAND - Students Taking Action Now: Darfur. My son reached into his pocket and made a generous donation - I was touched. He doesn’t part with his money easily.

What did you do today? Is anything special happening in your neighbourhood? Leave a comment.

Technorati tags: Comicon, Paradise Comics, STAND Canada, street sales, Yonge Lawrence Village

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Weekly wish - lessons at dish cooking studio

I’m so excited. I finally got my wish and signed up for a cooking class at dish cooking studio.

I won a $250 gift card at a silent auction almost two years ago and haven’t found the right combination of time availability and class that appealed to me until now. I’m going to take The Art of Grilling with Elena Embrioni and Charmaine Baan.

I’m so excited. So is my husband. You see, since I launched my blog, began camping out at CaseCamp, started shopping in SL and found all sorts of friends on Facebook, I’ve neglected my chores in the kitchen.

Last weekend, for our anniversary, he surprised me with a new BBQ. I’ve cooked dinner every night ever since. I guess you could say it’s really his wish that came true this week. ; )

Technorati tags: bbq, CaseCamp, cooking lessons, dish cooking studio, Second Life, Facebook

Monday, June 04, 2007

PowerSnipe: eBay auctions made simple

While sitting in a riviting panel discussion at mesh last week, my pal Mira was shoe shopping on eBay. Actually, PowerSnipe Auction Sniper was doing the heavy lifting for her.

For US$59.99 a year (or $45.99, if you order by June 5), PowerSnipe will do your bidding for you. All you need to do is let it know which item you’re bidding on and your top bid amount. It will even ask you if you want to increase it if another bid has gone higher. Ideally, it’s supposed to help you swoop down and make the final bid in the last moments of the auction. At US$60 a pop, it’s not cheap but if you do a lot of eBay shopping, Mira tells me it’s worth the investment.

I didn’t know you could subscribe to a service to do your bidding for you on eBay. Did you? How cool is that? Have any other tips for winning online auctions? Leave a comment.

photo credit: Mira Jelic on flickr

Technorati tags: auctions, eBay, mesh07, PowerSnipe

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Acccessories shopping on a sunny Saturday

Yesterday I checked out three different accessory stores in the Yonge street strip between Eglinton and Lawrence...

Heidi Ho2
Heidi Ho2 is really one of those rare hidden gems with a small nondescript storefronts. It’s a one-of-a-kind boutique with jewelry, clothing and other accessories that aren't mass produced.

Heidi has impeccable taste and a suggestive sales style others only dream of. She’s so good, I tried things I didn’t even need but am glad I found. I bought a great necklace for 40% off (selected jewelry is on sale) and a Dee...complete by Delicious tee for $20. Heidi definitely won me over. What style!

If you’ve never been to this cheap ’n cheerful accessories shop imported from the UK, you really should check it out. They always have new stuff that you won’t see everywhere else (and even a girls’ line for mother and daughter shopping). I checked out hair accessories and necklaces. The sales help was attentive, not pushy.

I ended up buying some hair clips and realized I didn’t have my loyalty card. No problem, they just looked up my last name on their computer and I got my discount. What service!

Just Cuz
I was never a big fan of this store but bought a gift there ages ago and wanted to exchange it for a higher-priced item. I knew it was past the deadline. But what the hey. Like my grandmother used to say, “nothing but ask”. So I did and bought something four times the price of the original item.

Next I wanted it gift wrapped - well they give away ribbon and tissue paper but you have to buy the bags. I asked if I could have a small box for another item I purchased elsewhere and wanted to include with the gift. They were so rude about it but gave in to my request in the end. Anyone can be bought - my cost $1. What nerve!

Where do you buy accessories? Have some stories to share? Leave a comment.

Technorati tags: Accessorize, Just Cuz, Heidi Ho

Linens•n•Things - 20% off with coupon

Linens•n•Things - 20% off this weekend with coupon:

Technorati tags: linens

Friday, June 01, 2007

Shoe shopping - a tale of two stores

I almost found the perfect pair of sandals at Capezio. They were Franco Sarto, black patent leather, open-toe sling backs. I really wanted bronze. The chain had none left in my size. So I settled for my second choice and bought them anyway.

The store wasn’t that busy but the sales staff seemed to be a bit preoccupied. The guy who helped me, was pleasant. When I paid for the shoes, he told me I’d need to buy some patent care. I told him I didn’t have my VIP card with me but I was a Sole Advantage member. He checked his binder but my name wasn’t there. (That’s strange. I signed up last fall and have a card at home.) No problem, he would just stamp my bill and my loyalty points would be tracked by head office. Everything was okay and I went on my way.

A couple days later, I decided I preferred the bronze colour. I called the new Town Shoes at Yonge and Eglinton. A perky woman answered the phone with the tag line, “Town Shoes, where we love shoes as much as you do.” I wanted to gag but I digress. ; )

I knew they carried the Franco Sartos I wanted and asked her if she had them in bronze size 9.5. She found a pair and put them on for me. I dashed down there right after work.

The salesperson was very polite and helpful. When I was ready to pay, she turned me over to the cashier.

First the cashier checked the each shoe, made sure they were a pair and added a sticker with a confirmation code inside the shoe box. She asked if I’d like them treated with patent care and polished them for me - I’d need to spray them every six wears.

Then, she gave me a new Schick Quattro razor. Yes, it’s bit of a strange promo for a shoe store but I needed a new one anyway and didn't want to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Next, I was offered membership in their shoes-aholics club and a ballot for a chance to win a pair of shoes. I learned a winner is drawn monthly from each location. Not bad odds, eh?

And as for service online, I have yet to receive an e-newsletter from Capezio but receive frequent ones from Town Shoes (I signed up for both lists months ago.) You may also want to check out Town Shoes website to see how they’re engaging with their customers online.

Okay, so all things being equal - the same shoes, same price - which store would you choose? The one with okay service and poor follow-through online, or the one with good customer service an engaging website and swag?

Technorati tags: Capezio, Franco Sarto, loyalty programs, Schick Quattro, Town Shoes