Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Up to 40% means pandemonium

July 24, 2011

First, I love books (as evidenced by this blog). Second, I’m bordering on dirt poor. So, hearing that Borders is going out of business and will be liquidating their stores fills me with conflicting feelings. On the one hand, I hate seeing Borders go out of business. I enjoy the place, I get great deals for their free membership,and they are damn near everywhere. On the other hand, store liquidations means discounts. And, by the end of it, big discounts.

So the girlfriend and I made a point of going to the nearest Borders over the weekend to see what was going on, only to find the parking lot plastered with cars and 40% signs in the window. The first thought for both of us was, “This is happening quick.”

But once we got inside the store, we realized it wasn’t happening that fast, and that the 40% thing was only on select merchandise (magazines and cards). So, we were a bit disappointed, hoping to walk in and grab pretty solid discounts on some of the things we’ve looked at in the past and decided was overpriced and not worth our cash. After all, $20 for a paperback sounds kinda high, but take 40% off that thing and we’ll grab a couple of different books and end up paying $30 on our visit instead.

But seeing the discount being a bit more limited than we expected from the parking lot and the signs, we didn’t get much (I got a couple of lit mags). But other people were walking out with crazy amounts of books, and just because they were saving maybe $2.50 off the cover price.

At which point my girlfriend and I shared another WTF moment. Why are these people going nuts for a fairly mediocre sale? After all, I got much larger discounts in my email from Borders every single week. Which essentially guaranteed that I would be willing to at least step into a Borders every week and do my damned well best to find something to blow my money on. But these books were a whopping 10% off (unless you got them from the animal section,  which was 20% off). The only other time I had seen Borders (or nearly any other store) so busy is around Christmas when shoppers flood the stores in a near panic as they try to avert ruining the holidays for their loved ones with crappy gifts.

I had to wonder where these people were a week ago, or  a month ago, or a year ago, when Borders could have really used this sort of business? Would lopping 10% off the cover price once in awhile have pulled these people out of the woodwork to spend like sailors on leave?

And I, more of a true clearance shopper I guess, could only look on in disgust at my apparently more amateurish brethren. 10% isn’t enough to make me bat an eye, let alone consider opening my wallet. But here was a store full of people going batshit for it. And not just sort of batshit, but having to shift the line from going straight out from their roped off area, to doubling back on itself like a coiled snake batshit.

Maybe Borders should have tried this sooner. Throw up a bunch of 40% off signs, which are only applicable to a couple of sections, give everything else a much more modest discount, and see if the herd would stampede through the door.  Instead of constantly remodeling stores that didn’t need to be remodeled, or revamping their stocking systems, what they really needed was a good sale. Because, as we witness from every clearance sale, every store liquidation, every holiday free-for-all, people are willing to buy anything if they believe they are getting a good deal on it. I know I’m happy with my copy of the Paris Review. The William Gibson interview is fantastic.


Half Price Books in Mayfield Hts – Store Review –

August 13, 2009

Yesterday my girlfriend and I were out and about and looking for a cheap place to buy some books. So we made the drive up to Mayfield Hts to check out the Half Price Books up there and see if we couldn’t finish shopping for her school books and pick up some stuff for ourselves.

For anyone not familiar with Half Price Books, it’s a national chain that deals in used books, movies and music. If you’re looking at paperbacks, the general rule is that they will be half off the cover price while the hardcover books are discounted a bit more steeply. They also have various clearance racks and special savings nooks where they have placed books they want to move a bit quicker or just get out of the store.

If you’re looking to sell them some of your old books or whatever the process appears to be pretty simple. You take your stuff to the appropriate counter (in this case, it was against the right wall when you walk in), someone looks it over and makes a cash offer which you can either take and go or put towards future purposes at the store.  I haven’t went to sell any books to them, so I can’t say exactly how fair their system is, but it seems straightforward enough.

Looking at books is easy and enjoyable. Aisles are wide, the place is very well lit, and it is very well organized. It’s a large chain store and it’s maintained that way. If you’re a fan of little “mom and pop” used book stores with musty smells of old books lining beaten shelves, this is not the place for you. If you want a (much) cheaper alternative to Borders and want to keep the nice “big store” amenities, you’re built for this place.

Getting to the store in Mayfield Hts is incredibly simple. If you’re coming from the east, just get on Mayfield Rd and keep going. If you’re coming from the south, all you have to do is hop on 271 and get off on Mayfield Rd. exit. It’s right off 271 on the southside of the road in a large shopping plaze with many other fun stores and a handful of places to eat. It could be an easy place to make a day of it.

Half Price Books

Mac’s Backs Paperbacks – Store Review

August 2, 2009

I’ve finally had the opportunity to get out and look at one of the used book stores in cleveland. It’s a little place called Mac’s. The lady working there was nice and helpful. Oddly enough, for a small bookstore, I get the impression that she may not have been either an owner or a long time employee. This isn’t a bad thing, just sort of odd in face of my prior experiences with little used bookstores.

On the plus side is a very solid selection for such a small store. It’s not even close to being the largest used bookstore I’ve been in but they do a good job of hitting pretty much every major author you could want, especially newer authors. They also have a commendable selection of children’s books, something more appreciated by me since I’ve started going around with a 5 yr old in tow.

The selection also leads to a bit of a negative – the pricing. The reason they have so many newer authors is that they have, well, new books mixed in with the old books. This is annoying in that you walk down an aisle and you see something and think you have a nice little find, only to pull it out and see the thing is fullpriced. For some paying fullprice for a book is no big deal. For me, considering I’m looking through a usedbookstore and won’t shop from borders unless I have a nice sized coupon, it’s a bit of a roadblock. But it’s not a huge deal.

what’s a bigger pain in the butt is that they have three or four different pricing methods. I’ve seen pretty much every pricing method. from prices written in the corner of the first page, to little stickers to big stickers to just prices posted on a wall.  For some reason this little store tried an “all of the above” approach.  So be prepared to look for prices.

All in all, not a bad shop. If you’re in cleveland, check it out.

Mac’s Backs Paperbacks

That Used Bookstore

January 14, 2009

To do my holiday shopping I decided to swing through the small town of Tecumseh, Michigan and roam around the downtown for a day in search of some small, personalized gifts.  It one of those quintessential small American towns with an assortment of little shops that seem to crop up in every small town but with minor variations that make it “their own.”

Amid a handful of little restaurants (I ate at The Cowboy Grill – the people were nice, the service good and the food hot) there were the obligatory antique shops and a couple of pubs. Instead of a toy shop there was a “hobby shop” which sold nearly every model of car, boat and plane you could want and a number you would also have to be able to afford. Instead of a candy shop, there were two wine stores. One just sold some wine and cheeses and the like while the other was an actual small winery.

What surprised me was That Used Bookstore. Used bookstores aren’t exactly profitable ventures. To put it kindly, they usually struggle to make ends meet. One used bookstore owner I know has talked of losing money the first six years she was in business. And this was in her seventh year. Simply put, it’s hard to make money when your costumers are people who are too poor (or, in my case, cheap AND poor) to buy the stuff new. Knowing this, I was a bit surprised to find this shop in the small town of Tecumseh.

I was in even more surprised to see how well stocked it was. I walked away with books by Arthur Nersesian, Robert Olmstead, Thomas McGuane and a couple of others. They had the usual assortment of Grishams, Clancy’s, Rice’s and King’s, just as any used bookstore does. But they also had a wide variety.

One of the negatives of the store is the lack of a clear price structure. What I have seen most often is a simple sign hung somewhere giving a price for all paperbacks, usually somewhere between $2-4. Instead, the prices are written in pencil on the first page in the upper right corner, though I did come across a couple of books with no price information.  I don’t buy to collect, I buy to read, and I never feel like spending $4 for a sci-fi paperback from 1965.  The prices weren’t bad, though. If anything, I would rate them as fair, usually very close to about half the cover price on the paperbacks. 

Apparently, That Used Bookstore is also associated with another bookstore called The Bookery, though the website is a bit vague on this relationship. It says merely that the “brick and mortar” store now houses both stores, but I never noticed moving from one store to the other when I was there.  Regardless, if you find yourself in Tecumseh, Michigan, give That Used Bookstore a look. The owner is nice and there is a fair chance you will find an unexpected treasure on their shelves.

That Used Bookstore