Store price vs. online price

I consider myself a fairly savvy shopper, but I was unaware of the possible price difference between an item in-store vs. online. I figured if it was the same store, the price should be the same regardless if I ordered it online or purchased it at the store. Wow, was I in for a surprise!

I’ve been shopping for a replacement patio umbrella for a week. I’d forgotten that our last one had been destroyed by the wind at the end of last summer. We have open fields on the south and west side of our property and our strongest winds come from the southwest. We’ve lost countless umbrellas, at least one glass table and a barbeque (yep, rolled right off the deck!) to those strong gusts. The last umbrella had lasted longer than the others because I learned to close it when we weren’t using it. However, I left it open because I was babysitting my granddaughter who was about three months old at the time, and she very suddenly needed something, so I took care of her and thought I’d close the umbrella later.

I heard an awful sound and looked out the window to see the umbrella turned inside out and dragging our table along the patio. Oh, well! I can always buy another umbrella and table, but I won’t always have the opportunity to spend time with my granddaughter.

I’d forgotten all about the need for a new umbrella until we finally got the table (yes, it survived the dragging!), chairs and cushions cleaned and ready for use. Oh, right, no umbrella. So I started looking around our small town for one, but everywhere I went they were sold out. Before wasting my time and fuel driving to a larger town to check the stores there, I went online to see if I could determine whether anyone still had patio umbrellas this late in the season.

I scored at! The closest store had “limited quantity” in the color I wanted for $69.30. I called the store and asked if they’d set one aside for me. They agreed to hold one at customer service for the day and told me the price was $99. What?! That’s nearly a $30 difference! I asked if they’d match the online price, and fortunately they did. However, if I hadn’t checked online and just gone to the store, I would have paid 30 percent more unnecessarily.

The lesson learned is to check online before going to the store, and always, always, always close the umbrella when not in use!

My shopping finesse level:
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your shopping finesse level?

When DIY turns into SKB (Should’ve Known Better)

I’m fascinated by DIY projects. I love the idea of taking something that’s not so great and turning it into something fabulous. I could spend all day watching HGTV (if we had cable) and flipping through the pages of Better Homes and Gardens (if I subscribed). With a little hard work and *finesse, anything seems achievable!

This attitude is what drove me to convince the husband to attempt a four-day DIY project to turn a pile of dirt (remember the photo from last week?) into a beautiful water feature. We attended a seminar a few years ago and the process seemed fairly straight-forward. The husband had also done all the electrical, HVAC and plumbing when we built our house and everything still works perfectly after 12 years, so a simple water feature should be a piece of cake, right?

We began by carving out the pond. With shovels in hand, we began digging away the dirt. With each scoop of soil removed, I could hear the soothing sounds of water splashing on a warm summer evening. Ah, it was going to be so peaceful!

The soil soon became hard clay, and I was having a difficult time scooping anything but air. Out came the husband with the adze to break through the clay. I hate to see him work so hard, but readily admit that seeing his muscles at work gets my heart pumping. For what seemed like hours, he broke the clay then took a break while I shoveled it out.

I kept asking/whining, “Isn’t it deep enough?”

His reply, “No!”

I trust his calculations, because he’s a very analytical guy, but I was so hoping he was wrong. I was hot and tired!

Finally, after six hours, we reached the required depth and set the skimmer. YEA! That was the end of day one.

Day two started with a trip to the local nursery to buy plants to place around the water feature. Oh, I was really envisioning this thing of beauty now. We made our purchases, brought them home and began shaping the two short waterfalls that would feed the pond. We had plenty of rock we’d excavated from our property, so we were ready to go.

We laid the liner and began placing the rocks. This is where it all began to deteriorate. I won’t go into all the details, but there’s apparently an art to the process that we were missing. At 4:30 p.m., I simply said, “We’re done.” My very frustrated husband did not argue. That was the end of day two and I was pretty sure there would not be a day three and four on this project.

We showered and went out to grab something to eat. Over dinner we began speculating on where we’d gone wrong. Maybe if we did this or that. No illumination. It was time to admit that this wasn’t going to be a DIY project, after all. I admitted defeat and called an expert on Monday.

My DIY finesse level:
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your DIY finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)