Shopping While Impaired: An Unorthodox Approach to Frugality

By , March 31, 2010

My recent trip to Juneau for eye care created some rather unorthodox and unintended frugality strategies that might be worth considering—should the opportunity arise.

Juneau’s Costco is a regional shopping magnet. We recently canceled the membership we’d held since they opened, to save money. Because of its unique location, the Juneau Costco has always had different rules. Rumor held that non-members could get a day pass. One can, but only to tour the store; one can’t purchase anything. For the first time ever, I “visited” Costco to look for my list items, and to see what else they offered. This forced me to merely look at “impulse” items. To make any purchases, I had to come back with a member friend, which imposed a reconsideration period.

Ironically, this is the first time I’ve been to this Costco without seeing a bunch of people I know. I’d expected to find a friend to help me make purchases, but it didn’t happen.

This restriction on purchasing followed me out of the store and carried over to the rest of my shopping day. At every other store I visited, I kept thinking that I could only look without purchasing. That slowed me down considerably.

Another unexpected frugality measure is shopping after the eye appointment. The doctor administered dilating drops, which take about 8 hours to wear off. Dilated eyes can’t focus well enough to browse effectively! I could find the items on my list, largely by pattern recognition, but impulse items were pretty much out of the question.

I occasionally had to ask other shoppers to read labels for me. Once, the only person available was a very attractive young lady, a dead ringer for the actress Bridget Moynahan—my eyes weren’t too blurry to notice that! When I explained my predicament, she patted me on the shoulder, exclaiming, “Oh, you poor thing!” and patiently read the label to me.

This is what I call added value.

Incidentally, I was conferring with Michelle on the cell phone at the same time, so I really was behaving myself, but I was also having a really good time.

These are rather unorthodox methods. I can’t even really recommend them, but they do work. I don’t think I’ve ever spent less on a trip to Juneau, including the cost of the ophthalmologist visit!

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