How to distinguish a bargain from a sale

Alex Harrold
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I could spend a column talking about Chris Mitchelmore's fall from politics after last week's news item regarding his defection to the Liberals without him having raised the issue beforehand with the executive of the district he represents.
I'm not going to, though. A previous column of mine spoke to the nature of his behavior being opportunistic. It was nice of him to prove it.

We columnists seldom receive vindication so quickly. I just hope his Liberal constituents will recognize that they might be better served by supporting other Liberal candidates in that district when the opportunity arises.

There is a much more serious column I had in mind this week. It has to do with the difference between the way men and women shop.

When it comes to that subject, men are from Mars, and women are from some planet where everything is on sale all of the time. Men only pay attention to sales when it's something big, such as a new car, a new suit, or the price of diamonds when they have to return an engagement ring they had to go on Judge Judy to get back.

Most men shop like me. Long before they ever get to a store, they muse over the thing they want to buy for their significant other. The first point in this regard is that their significant other is the only person men ever buy anything for to begin with. Family birthday gifts, other people's weddings, and anniversary gifts for people you don't remember are all bought by women. Men have it easy only having to buy for one person. I would get carved to pieces if I didn't acknowledge that up front.

Once a man decides what it is he wants to buy for Valentine's Day, he determines which store will be most likely to have the item he wants.

On the way there, he may stop at a gas station on the off chance that he might find something else spontaneously that would fulfill the same obligation. This is behavior normally associated with a man with very little experience in a relationship. More often than not, the wise man will not be distracted by wiper fluid or collapsible ice scrapers.

Upon arriving at the designated destination, the man will immediately go to the department he requires in order to peruse the different colors of sweaters, socks or watches he had in mind. The only thought given to price is whether or not the amount exceeds his predetermined maximum. This process takes approximately two minutes. After coming to a conclusion about the item he wishes to purchase, he quickly gains the attention of a sales clerk and completes the deal. If he really has his thinking cap on at the time, he will ask the sales clerk if it is possible to have the item giftwrapped. Then he goes home.

Women do not recognize the expediency of this process. They are, however, acutely aware that the man's methodology never considered whether or not the item was on sale. That is because men have already predetermined that any sale price that is being offered came about when the item in question was overpriced to begin with.

Men do not fall for the word "sale" unless the item is so ridiculously reduced that the man has no trouble recognizing it is a true bargain. See "car" above.

Women realize the same level of excitement for something that is marked 20, 30, 50 or 70% off as they do when they accidentally run into Justin Bieber. Men are truly convinced that women never bother to think about the item having been so overpriced in the beginning that a 50% off sale actually brings the item in line with the 33% profit that the retailer intends to make to begin with.

Men who don't mind paying full price for an item that their wives think they're getting at a bargain will accompany their wives when they shop, just to share in their joy of getting that pretend bargain.

In the end, women have overspent just a little at a time, whereas men, who reserve their purchases for really big-ticket items (see "car" above), overspend all at once on the car they are convinced was a steal. There may be other differences I missed. Column space exists at a premium.

Geographic location: Mars

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