Monday, February 27, 2006

Mall crawler. Online browser. Quick in-and-outer

Shopping styles are as individual as our tastes (and patience) allow

Staff Writer, The State

COLUMBIA, S.C. - What’s your shopping style?

Do you hit the mall grudgingly twice a year, or visit boutiques daily, like a hunter? Do you seek deep discounts or pricey, one-of-a-kind wearables? And why?

We put these questions to a few retail veterans of the Midlands. Which of their shopping styles do you share?

LeTonya Kelly: Online shopper
Kelly, a 31-year-old programming analyst with a new baby, isn’t able to get to the mall often. Instead, she comparison-shops online.

“That way, I’ll have it narrowed down to where I can get the best value on the sizes and colors I need,” she said. “It saves time and money.”

Kelly’s favorite stores, online and off: Old Navy, TJ Maxx, Babies ’R Us, and Target

Cindy Lupkey: Out-of-town shopper
Lupkey, a 21-year-old public-relations student at USC, likes to make weekend trips to Atlanta with her mom.

“Their stores are just a little bit bigger, and they have Neiman-Marcus,” said Lupkey, who recently hit the Downtown Merchandise Mart and Lenox Mall, and left with lots of accessories.

She also likes the International Mall in Tampa, which has Lucky Brand Jeans, Nordstrom, Louis Vuitton and Coach.

Lupkey looks for: Wholesale prices

Lauren Gray: Reluctant shopper
Gray, a 23-year-old advertising major who will graduate from USC in May, was “dragged on” too many shopping trips when she was little, and now she avoids them as much as possible.

“I don’t do a lot of browsing,” she said. “If there’s something I want, I go and buy it.” Her downfall: Purses and handbags at Handpicked.

Most of Gray’s friends share her aversion to shopping marathons.

“I think people spend less on clothes than they used to,” she said. “Most people shop at Target and Old Navy. Target doesn’t have the same connotation that Wal-Mart does, when you say you bought something there.”

Gray’s shopping tip: “If I go into a store that I tend to spend more in, sometimes I’ll leave my wallet in the car.”

Amber Coker: Clearance rack shopper
Coker, 30, never pays full price for anything except underwear and socks — only because they’re never on sale when she needs them.

“Sometimes I find something spectacular, other times nothing, but it is worth the dig,” said Coker, a frequent shopper at Old Navy, Bath & Body Works and Pier 1 who finds that her retail habits add up to serious savings.

Coker’s tip: Keep an “emergency gift box” prepared for unforeseen gift-giving occasions and the next holiday.

“Housewares clearance racks are great for stocking the box,” she said. “They should be simple gifts, like stationery sets you found for 75 percent off. Buy a few of them and they make great any-occasion gifts for ladies. Candles and candleholders are always on sale, and so are really nice ornaments that you can get 50 (percent) to 75 percent off after the holidays.”

... And a warning: “Shopping clearance style can be dangerous if you don’t add it up before you get to the register. Even $2 each can add up very quickly. Set a limit for yourself before entering the store.”

Crystal Gleim: Karmic shopper
Gleim, 27, has a two-step shopping process:

1. “I see an item that I really feel I have to have — normally, but not always, a clothing item of some sort. If I attempt to obtain that particular item and they don’t have my size or the color I like, then I wasn’t meant to have it and so I move on.”

2. “I see an item I like but decide to think about it or decide to wait until I can afford it. When I am ready to come back for it, if it is there, then I was meant to have it. If not, then it wasn’t meant to be.”

Gleim’s tip: Relax.

Jason Windham: Big-haul shopper
Windham, the 29-year-old co-owner of an interior-design business called A Fresh Approach, gets the urge to shop on Sundays. And he does it right.

“I have to admit I can be selfish when it comes to my shopping and my money,” he said. “I prefer to shop alone. If I see something I like, I don’t have to worry about someone else’s opinion. I can just say, ‘I like it and I am buying it.’”

Wyndham’s favorite brands: Express for Men, Merrell, GBX and Kenneth Cole.

Heath Shealy: Direct-target shopper
Healy’s straightforward approach: “I know what I want and I go and buy what I want, and I don’t really look at all the other stuff.”

A 33-year-old massage therapist and teacher who’s usually in scrubs, Healy usually just wants a new shirt and pair of button-fly 501s at Dillards.

His words to live by: “A T-shirt’s a T-shirt.”

Lois Klemy: Endurance shopper
Klemy, director of campus relations at Columbia College, is always on the prowl for her next great outfit. She shops about three times a week and loves unique accent pieces.

“If I just buy one piece, that could change a whole outfit,” she said. “I’m always looking for something very eye-appealing, very catchy.”

Klemy’s tips:
1.“Always shop with a clear head, otherwise you might make a mistake.”
2. “Just because something is in style, doesn’t mean it’s the style for you.”


  1. I'm totally a karmic shopper...that girl's got me nailed. I tried on this adorable/sexy shirt at Ann Taylor last week, but the color was ugly. I asked for it in a different color, they didn't have it in my size, and I deigned that I was just not meant to own the shirt.

    I got on this karma kick a few years ago, and now all the celebs are hooked on karma. I'd like to think I was ahead of my time. Karma's a bitch though, I'd prefer to not live in fear of it....

  2. Karma is fascinating. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

    As for the shopping, I'm in the endurance shopper category. I shop early and often. :-)