Monday, October 29, 2007

Only Nikes for my guys

Note: Here’s another guest post from my friend Saul Colt, otherwise known as the Smartest Man in the World...

Before I had kids I used to see people in the mall shopping for toddler-sized leather jackets and other items that their kids would wear and outgrow and I just couldn’t wrap my finger around it.

I swore I would never be “that guy” and my kids would wear whatever I buy them and that stuff would be practical.

Well I am here to say that I “slipped” I swore up and down that I wouldn’t do this but my passion for sneakers and my love of nostalgia got the better of me and this past week I purchased my four-year-old his first pair of Nike Air Jordan’s (Retro 3s for those keeping score at home). And because I couldn’t buy for one and not the other, my three-year-old got his first pair of Nike Air Force Ones (AF1 Toronto Model).

Both love the shoes and I have to admit I get a weird thrill (not a sexual one so wipe that from your head) seeing them in the same shoes I wear every day so I guess being “that guy” isn’t so bad...but they still are not getting leather jackets!

Tags: basketball shoes, Nike, Nike Air Force One, Nike Air Jordan, Saul Colt

Friday, October 26, 2007

Weekly Wish - checking out L’Oréal Fashion Week

This week I wanted to do something really decadent... I wanted to head downtown to Nathan Phillips Square and check out L’Oréal Fashion Week. It’s the first year they’re trying something new and making local fashion more accessible to the general public.

I even had plans to meet some of my cool TFBB friends today. They’ve been hanging around down there all week - some have even been lucky enough to attend some of the “By Invitation Only” events.

As they say, some of the best laid plans...

So, instead of going there myself, this week I’m wishing for something a bit different. I’m wishing for those of you lucky kids out there who schmoozed with Toronto’s pretty people at the shows, parties and just hanging around, to share your stories and links to your photos, right here at Bargainista. Leave a comment. Send me a guest post, send me a link to your flickr album. I’m there!

Tags: L’Oréal Fashion Week, TFBB, Toronto Fashion Week

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Making the best of a bad hair day

I had a bad hair day; I mean a really bad hair day. I’ve kept quiet about it because out of embarrassment.

I had a reverse perm last December and the top layer of my hair fell out. I was so uncomfortable; I stayed with the same stylist thinking he was the best person to repair his damage.

Did he offer any special treatments or services to help while my hair was growing back? No, he didn’t charge me to colour my hair at my next visit. C’est tout!

I finally got the courage to make a change. I know, I know. You’re probably thinking “What took her so long? This is uncharacteristic of Bargainista”. “What took her so long? And, you’re right. But you know a girl and her hair... Fortunately, the colour technician was a perfectionist and got it right the first time. (Usually it takes me at least two sessions with someone new.) I also splurged and had the owner/director stylist cut my hair. Et voila! No more barrettes for me - I can wear my hair down again without looking like a 70s glam rocker.

Why did I feel the need to share this with you now? Because of the postcard I received the other day. I got a nice note thanking me for choosing their salon including a voucher for $5 off my next visit.

It's the little things like thank you notes and vouchers that will secure my business - at least once more (but I suspect much longer.) If they wanted to kick it up a notch, I suggest they ditch the generic pre-printed note in favour of a personalized handwritten one. For now, I’ll gladly accept the $5 gesture and use it on my return visit.

What excellent customer service lately? Bargainista wants to know. Leave a comment.

photo credit: jfchenier on Flickr

Tags: bad hair day, Calia, hair salons

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hadassah-Wizo Bazaar this Wednesday

Hadassah Bazaar - if you’re a true bargain hunter and want to score the best deals of the season, don’t miss this! Wear comfy shoes, be prepared for long line-ups and crowds.
Maybe you’ll even win a door prize.

Wednesday, Oct. 24: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

Exhibition Place (see map)
Direct Energy Centre, Hall B
Toronto, Ontario

How much?
Tickets $4 at the door (children 5 and under: free)

If you go, leave a comment and let us know what you find.

Tags: Hadassah Bazaar

ESPRIT and Lacoste warehouse sale

Save the date!
ESPRIT fashions and Lacoste footwear warehouse sale, details to follow.
I don’t usually post sales without all the details but I’ve had a special request from a member of the Facebook group.

VIP Night - Nov. 7: 6 p.m.-9 p.m. save an extra 10%; tickets on sale soon
Public Sale - Nov. 8 to Nov. 11 - hours to follow

International Centre, Hall 4 (see map)
6900 Airport Rd.

Mississauga, Ontario

L4V 1E8

Tags: ESPRIT, Lacoste, warehouse sale

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Toronto Fashion Bloggers Brunch XII - the recap

Brassaii was host to yet another TFBB today. In addition to yours’ truly, we had an intimate and lively group of bloggers and readers:

Adrian, Fashion Verbatim
Anita, I want - I got
Danielle, finalfashion
Henna, Canadian Beauty
Liza, Irene, Rachel and Sonja, Toronto Street Fashion
Melissa; and,

As usual, interesting conversation ensued:
Toronto Fashion Week - all this week, Nathan Phillips Square, be there!
Adrian’s visit with Chanel
Comments from anonymous bloggers, blog syndication and blog networks
Fashion PR
Joe Fresh Style for kids - it’s the best

BTW, check out Danielle’s phenomenal sketch of some of us regulars. In addition to her design talents, Danielle is an extraordinary illustrator. Friends have commissioned her to produce custom illustrations for their blogs and biz cards. You should see her moo cards. If you're interested, let her know. Her illustrations start at $100 - a bargain, don’t ya think.

Tags: Brassaii, Joe Fresh, illustrations, moo cards, TFBB, Toronto Fashion Week

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tip of the Week - offer to pay U.S. prices

By now we’ve all heard enough about the amazing deals being had shopping south of the border. Book and magazines have been an easy target because Canadian and U.S. prices are printed on their covers and the gauging is terribly obvious. What hurts even more is when the book has been printed in Canada!

I was at Banana Republic and a sales associate told me she won’t even buy anything there anymore. Wonder why? She knows something I was able to figure out pretty quickly. I was browsing and what I saw wasn’t pretty.

One sweater was marked with a $75 regular price, a $59.99 sale price in an initial markdown and a $49.99 sale price from another markdown. The same sweater in another size was marked $58 dollars regular price and a sale price of $59.99 - WTF? The second sweater had a tag printed for the U.S. market and it hadn’t been switched before it made it on to a Canadian store shelf. Someone made a boo boo.

Okay, so we haven’t had parity for very long but the loonie hasn't been 30% lower than the U.S. greenback for a long, long time. Even the with the first markdown, us Canadians were still being hosed with a 3.5% increase over the price initially charged to our U.S. neighbours.

To a certain extent, I understand that retailers are the middle-men getting their butts kicked. But why did they agree to pay such a huge premium for merchandise in the first place? Unfortunately, when it comes to the American chains and Canadian customers, they may still get our biz, just not on Canadian soil and that's the pits for our economy.

Some retailers have figured out they need to slash prices big time. Others have embraced consumer education campaigns.

But I’m going to try something else and maybe if you do too, we’ll be able to shop here again without feeling duped. Next time you want to buy something that has both Canadian or U.S. prices marked, and/or you have proof the exact same item is being sold for a lower price in the U.S., ask the store if you can pay the U.S. price.

What do you think? Will you try this the next time you go shopping?

Tags: Banana Republic, book sellers, cross-border shopping, loonie, parity

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Weekly Wish - the green challenge

My friend Kim Vallée of the wonderful home decor and entertaining blog called At Home with Kim Vallee, invited me to participate in The Green Challenge on Blog Action Day. The challenge is for me to let you know what I’m doing to introduce environmental sustainability in my daily life.

Here’s what I’ve been doing lately to reduce, reuse and recycle:

I’ve always reused plastic bags but now I take reusable bags with me when I grocery shop. I've also skip the bag when my purchases are small enough to fit in my purse.

When I edit (that’s a fancy way for saying clean out) my closet, I donate clothes I no longer want to charity.

I often shop at stores withing walking distance or on the subway line and leave the car at home.

I traded in two old jackets for one new one at West 49 as part of their Coats for Kids initiative. As my son outgrows his winter jackets, it’s a great way to recycle while helping kids who otherwise may not have one.

Recently, my son needed a semi-formal wear for a party. I bought his suit and accessories at a consignment shop. A little altering and dry cleaning made the outfit look as good as new. When it no longer fits him (believe me, it won’t be long the way he’s growning), I’ll return to shop and get some cash back when they sell it to another boy. Not only is this an example of reuse and recycle but it saved me a ton of money. A brand new comparable outfit sells for about $400 while I paid $139 ($89 outfit + $25 for alterations and +$15 for dry cleaning).

So you see, you can help save the environment while saving money.

As for my wish this week, I want to learn new ways to be green. I’m even thinking about starting a regular “green” column like Kim did! What about you? What are you doing to introduce environmental sustainability in your daily life?

Tags: At Home With Kim Vallee, Blog Action Day, Coats for Kids, environmental sustainability, Kim Vallée, recycle, reduce, resale, reuse, The Green Challenge, West 49

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Toronto Fashion Bloggers Brunch XII - Sunday, Oct. 21

You’re invited! Calling all local fashion bloggers:

Toronto Fashion Bloggers Brunch (TFBB)

461 King St. W. (map)

October 21, 2007
11:30 a.m.

The TFBB gang and friends.

RSVP by logging on to

Special thanks to Adrian for the sassy poster, Anita for setting up the RSVPs on eventbrite and Danielle for keeping us all on our toes.

Tags: Brassaii, blogging, fashion, social media, TFBB,

Happy Halloween from Over the Rainbow

Coupon for $30 off cords
(one pair per customer, coupon required)

Over the Rainbow
101 Yorkville Ave. (map)
Toronto, ON

Now until October 31

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

Shout out to Aileen Pacheco for the tip. Have a sale or other shopping news to share, e-mail me.

Tags: cords, corduroy, coupons, Over the Rainbow, Halloween

Monday, October 15, 2007

Coats for kids at West 49

My eldest son has been doing everything possible to avoid shopping this season. All last winter he begged me for a new winter jacket but I didn’t budge because he didn’t need one. I promised he could buy one this year. I suggested we go out early Saturday morning and search for a new jacket while the stores were relatively quiet.

West 49 is his favourite clothing store. When it comes to junior boys, their selection is limited but he usually finds lots of tee shirts, hoodies and hats. Lucky for me, he found a jacket he liked and it was the lowest-priced.

But that’s not all. I saved another $20. From now through November 12, West 49 is running it’s annual Coats for kids promotion.

By dropping off an old clean insulated winter jacket I saved $20 on his new jacket (I would have saved $30 on an adult jacket). I didn’t have an old jacket with me but the sales associate bent over backwards making it easy for me to donate one later that day at another location closer to home. How rare and refreshing. Too often chain stores discourage customers from shopping at other locations even if it means closing a sale and having a happy customer. When will they learn it’s not that difficult to make a customer happy.

It goes without saying this wasn’t all about the sale. It was about friendly service, helping others and recycling. My son was pleased he could provide a child in need with a warm jacket this winter. Even if you don’t need a new winter jacket this season but have an old one taking up space in your closet, you may want to drop it off at West 49 and keep a kid from being cold this winter.

Tags: Coats for kids, West 49, winter jackets

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Shopping for that special someone

Note: I hope you enjoy this guest post from my friend Saul Colt, otherwise known as the Smartest Man in the World. He’s got a great sense of humour, is no stranger to shopping and has a wealth of ideas for improving customer experience.

Ya know how in most marriages there is that one “thing” that makes the people in the relationship sooooo different?

For me and my wife it is the love of shopping. Now you are probably thinking I am that husband who goes to the mall kicking and screaming but I actually love to shop (just typing that can get my “man card” taken away but I don’t care) and it is my wife who enters the mall looking acting like her hair is on fire. Because of this I tend to just bring stuff home for her to check out.

Shopping for the opposite sex is fun since it allows me to make inappropriate comments to the ladies helping me in the store like “If this [ladies] pant suit doesn’t fit me can I bring this back” and “How do you think size 14 pumps will look with this” and of course the phrase I have not actually used but saw in a movie “you are about my wife’s size....can you try this on for me”...I thought about it once and then realized I am just not “that guy”.

One thing I learned pretty early from shopping for my wife is that she and I don’t share the same taste in clothes....and this is the real reason I am writing this blog entry..... If anyone is interested in a fire engine red pair of ladies suit/work pants in a size 6 drop me a note at my blog:

Tags: Saul Colt

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Tip of the Week - have your photo ID handy

A strange thing happened to me today at Yorkdale. I went to the customer service desk to purchase a gift certificate. The customer service person told me I’d need to show her photo ID if I was planning to use my VISA card.

It was the first time I’ve been asked for photo ID when using a credit card in Canada before (I’ve been asked in the U.S.). I was uncomfortable due to privacy concerns. The woman at the customer service desk told me she has to present hers whenever she shops at Coach (since when does working as a customer service rep at a mall pay so well?) and Icon wouldn’t let her buy a purse using her credit card because she didn’t have photo ID at the time.

I can understand retailers’ concerns about credit card theft and fraud but I can’t believe they’d turn down a sale if a customer wanting to pay by credit card didn’t have photo ID.

Bottom line: if you want to make sure you can use your credit card the next time you shop, take a piece of photo ID just in case.

Technorati tags: credit cards, photo ID, Yorkdale

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Weekly wish - Ford Focus: the perfect pitch

You may have noticed I haven’t been posting as frequently for the past several weeks. Believe it or not, I haven't been shopping much either. But, I am making a concerted effort to pick up the pace.

Lately, my in-box has been filling up with all sorts of stuff from PR or marketing types who just send me generic news releases and invitations for products, services and events that have nothing to do with the blog and/or hold little interest for a Bargainista like myself. I’m just getting all kinds of random stuff with no introduction and no compelling reason to care.

Don’t get me wrong, I DO receive pitches from people who know what they are doing and those who are trying their best. Lots has been said about bad pitches and how to pitch bloggers so I won’t go on ad nauseum here. However, I will share an example of the best social media news release (SMNR) I’ve ever seen (thanks to Bryper for the heads-up). It’s for the 2008 Ford Focus , and a big shout out goes to Maggie Fox and Collin Douma at Social Media Group.

The release is well-organized and has everything a blogger could want:
key facts
beautiful photos
relevant links
There’s even an RSS feed so you can subscribe for updates. Best of all, I don’t have to dig to find any of it. You can pitch me anytime!

So this week my wish is a bit different. It’s not about the awesome new pair of metallic gray Franco Sarto tuxedo flats I ogled in a shop window on Thanksgiving Day or the gorgeous mustard blouse with black sash I salivated over at Femme de Carrière last night (good thing mustard isn’t my colour, and it was beyond my price range anyway).

Have you figured it out yet? This week I’m wishing for the perfect pitch for a shopping blogger such as myself. If you want to pitch me, you don’t have to send me a SMNR but at the very least read my blog and try and connect with me. Who know’s maybe I’ll even start posting more often.

Now if Ford would only find a way to charge the same price for cars north of the border. And by the way, I’ve always wanted a red car. ; )

If you were me, what would you do? Would you pass up an interesting opportunity ’cause of a lousy pitch? Would you read a series about lame pitches?

photo credit: Ford Motor Company’s photostream on flickr

Technorati tags: blog pitches, Bryper, Collin Douma, Ford Focus, Maggie Fox, PR, public relations, social media news release, SMNR

H&M warehouse sale

H&M Warehouse Sale
70% off all women’s, men’s, and teen’s clothing.
prices from $2 - $24
all lingerie is only $2
all sales final!

1 Wilkinson Rd. (map)
Brampton, ON

Sat., Oct. 13: 3 p.m.– 9 p.m.
Sun., Oct. 14: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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

Technorati tags: H&M

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

ChicAdvisor Shop Crawl Part Deux

ChickAdvisor is having another exclusive Queen Street Shop Crawl on November 2 for ChickAdvisor members and friends.

I’m thrilled Bargainista has been asked to participate as a blog partner. Thanks, Ali!

I’m ecstatic this real life social shopping event is taking hold. It’s just like After a Fashion but on Queen Street instead of Second Life. It’s always more fun shopping with friends, especially when shopping is followed by an after-party. Once again, the gals will end the evening at Milestones.

The ChickAdvisor team has a great evening planned with discounts off at several stores, goody bags and even an after party where you can win great prizes. More details to follow.

I’ll be there, hope to see you there too! Still not sold, read about the first Queen Street Shop Crawl, you won’t want to miss this one.

Did you go the first Queen Street Shop Crawl? If so, what did you think. Will you go again? Leave a comment.

ChickAdvisor Queen Street Shop Crawl Part Deux
Free products and samples;
Exclusive discounts from the participating popular Queen Street boutiques on either all regular-priced merchandise only (details)
Free food and drinks at Milestones After Party (e.g. appetizers, sangria, mojitos, lemonade, etc.)
Enter to win prizes from event sponsors

Queen Street West, Toronto
(Shop Crawl map to be added as soon as it’s available)

Friday, Nov. 2: 6 p.m.-9 p.m.

How much?
Tickets in advance: members $20 (join ChickAdvisor, log in and get the member price) or non-members $25
Buy now!

Technorati tags: Ali de Bold, ChickAdvisor, Queen Street, Shop Crawl

Friday, October 05, 2007

Tip of the Week - earn cash cleaning your closet

If you’re anything like me, your closet is probably overflowing with clothes, shoes and other accessories. If you’re even more like me, you probably haven’t worn half these items in more than a year.

Now is the perfect time to clean out your closet in time for cooler weather (those of you outside of Toronto may have done this a while ago but since we’ve had an extended summer, many of us have added this to our Thanksgiving weekend to do lists.)

If you’ve bought any new stuff or planning to do so, and haven’t quite figured out how to pay for it all, why not take some of the finer items you haven’t worn in a while and take them to a descent clothing consignment shop. You won’t get what you paid for them but you will get some money back. How’s that for recycling? Don’t forget to freshen them up at the dry cleaners first.

Take the rest of your cast-offs and donate them to charity. Remember your junk may be someone else’s treasure.

photo credit My (Very Messy) Closet by colorfulviolets on flickr

Technorati tags: charity, closet cleaning, consignment shops

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Lida Baday’s sample sale - October 19

Lida Baday’s semi-annual sample sale

Her collection is available in only the best department stores including:
It’s one great sale you won’t want to miss! Whether you’re looking for something sophisticated for a day at the office, a night out on the town or that special something for a holiday party, this Canadian designer is not to be missed.

Friday, October 19
8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.

70 Claremont St.. (See map.)

Let us know what you get if you go.

Technorati tags: Holt Renfrew, Lida Baday, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, sample sale

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

After a Fashion - second season premiere

Okay, so maybe I'm a bit underwhelmed by Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and my other guilty TV pleasures this season but an evening with some of my gal pals in Second Life never disappoints.

Last night, I went kimono shopping in Japan, hung out with friends, picked up a new outfit, got a new hairdo including colour and highlights for only a loonie (or about $250 Linden dollars, the Second Life currency). Hmm, I meant my avatar, Paradise Wunderland, did. When was the last time a night out with your friends cost only a dollar?

I’m curious to see how tonight’s episode of Law & Order: SVU, titled “Avatar” pans out. I suspect it will depict the shady side of virtual worlds, which is quite different from my experience.

If you’re smart, you’ll try out Second Life (or another virtual world) for yourself before passing judgement.

Have you spent any time shopping in Second Life yet? What did ya think? Leave a comment

Technorati tags: online shopping, Second Life, virtual worlds