Archive: General Interest

Good-Bye Shop To It

Saying good-bye to an old friend is always tough. And I'm afraid this is yet another tough good-bye. This is Shop To It's final blog post. Together we have tried to figure out this crazy world of retail since October 2007. As I write this farewell, it's only appropriate that...

By Tania Anderson | April 30, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

Tuesday Tips: Window Treatments

I love looking out my kitchen window while I'm making breakfast in the mornings. But I sure don't want people looking in on me as I do this in my green and pink butterfly pajamas. That's why window treatments are a home's necessary evil. They not only keep out peering...

By Tania Anderson | April 28, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Saving Some Green When Buying Green

I love the thought of buying cleaning products that aren't harmful to the environment. So in honor of Earth Day on Wednesday, I went to four stores and one Web site to find out who had the best prices on some of the environmentally friendly cleaning products that have hit...

By Tania Anderson | April 21, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (15)

Tax Refund: To Spend or Not to Spend?

The last year has been an expensive one for my family. Starting with a broken air-conditioning system and a clogged pipe in our top floor bathroom that leaked water all the way down to our basement and ending with the renovation of two bathrooms and a kitchen. In the end...

By Tania Anderson | April 16, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Hop, Hop, Hop to Ready-Made Easter Meals

The Easter eggs are hidden. The pastel d├ęcor is in place. The chocolate eggs and jelly beans are ready to be eaten. Just one more thing -- Easter dinner. If the holiday has snuck up on you and you're in search of a little help from someone else's kitchen, consider...

By Tania Anderson | April 9, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Tuesday Tips: Buying Paint

One of the most expensive supplies in a painting project is the paint. It's hard to believe, since it's just paint, but paint a room with cheap stuff and it shows. High-end paint can run you $100 a gallon. So here are a few tips on buying paint without taking...

By Tania Anderson | April 7, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Cool Store Alert: West Elm

Every spring I try to turn my small patio into a relaxing, beach setting. I use colors and lots of candles and lights to make it happen... sort of. It never quite works out the way I want it to. Which is why the recent West Elm catalog caught my...

By Tania Anderson | April 2, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Rethinking Coupons

Don't mess with coupons. That's what I learned from last week's Shop To It post where I mused about not understanding the lure of those little pieces of paper that give you discounts. Some of you found it bizarre that a shopping blogger would turn up her nose at coupons....

By Tania Anderson | March 24, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (33)

Did You Know...?

...That you should never go shopping hungry, even when you're not buying groceries? And some retailers use certain scents like the smell of fresh-cut grass to make us buy. That's according to a new book by Martin Lindstrom called 'Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy.' The author...

By Tania Anderson | March 19, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

Coupons for a Price: Deal or No Deal?

I'll be honest here. I've never really understood the lure of coupons. I've tried using them but I only last a few shopping trips and then I give up. To me it doesn't seem worth the 25 cents in savings or the fact that you have to buy more of...

By Tania Anderson | March 17, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (20)

Gifts O'Plenty for St. Patrick's Day

You get invited to an Irish friend's house for St. Patrick's Day, where you'll have an evening of traditional Irish fare. But you can't possibly show up with a case of green beer and a necklace of blinking shamrock beads. Some local Irish shop owners offer up their ideas for...

By Tania Anderson | March 12, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Go Cheap or Pay More for Quality?

Have you ever regretted buying something on the cheap? Who hasn't? Here's one of my many shopping regrets: I bought bamboo shades for two windows in my bedroom about a year ago at Target, paying about $30 a piece. They looked great and I felt pretty good as friends and...

By Tania Anderson | March 5, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (16)

Off the Beaten Path: Downtown Silver Spring

I'm not the biggest fan of chain stores. Yes, Target does serve a critical purpose in my life, but in terms of shopping for fun, I run from stores like Target. So it was a pleasant surprise when on a recent shopping trip to Silver Spring's City Place, I discovered...

By Tania Anderson | February 26, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (10)

Tuesday Tips: Shopping for Luggage

I'm going on vacation in a few weeks and so far it looks like my husband and I, along with our two daughters, will be stuffing our clothes into one small suitcase. We recently threw away a large bag that fell apart after many years of trips. I'm resisting going...

By Tania Anderson | February 24, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (11)

Comparing Prices at Lowe's and Home Depot

You've been to one big box store, you've been to them all. There's not a big difference between the look and feel of a Target and a Walmart or a Borders and a Barnes & Noble, in my opinion. But many times where you do find differences is in price....

By Tania Anderson | February 19, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

Did You Know...?

In my quest to bring you retail enlightenment each week, I decided to launch a regular series in Shop To It called "Did You Know...?" It'll be full of fun tidbits about anything and everything about shopping, from big sales to interesting Web sites and stores. Here's the first roundup....

By Tania Anderson | February 17, 2009; 07:39 AM ET | Comments (3)

Take the Handbag, Leave the Cell Phone

Looks like the bad economy has forced us shoppers to give up handbags and facials. That's according to a recent survey by BIGResearch for the National Retail Federation, which wanted to find out what consumers have parted with since the economy started tanking. We've also cut out satellite radio, specialty...

By Tania Anderson | February 10, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (9)

Renting Instead of Buying

Parting is such sweet sorrow. That's how I feel everytime I sell something on eBay or Craig's List. So I didn't really need that old laptop anymore. And that infant bouncy seat surely went to a deserving bidder. But maybe I could have used that laptop as a back-up computer....

By Tania Anderson | February 5, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Circuit City's Liquidation: Deal or No Deal?

For anybody who thought Circuit City's liquidation sale wouldn't be good, think again. Over the weekend I went into one of the bankrupt company's stores to compare their sale prices with Best Buy's prices. My conclusion: Circuit City has some good deals compared to its rival and some online sites....

By Tania Anderson | February 3, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (21)

Mail-Order Catalogs: So 'This Century'

I consider myself a tech savvy gal but I just can't resist a good mail-order catalog. So "last century," I know. Don't get me wrong, I'll online shop with the best of them but I love sitting down with a good catalog and reading the descriptions of products and studying...

By Tania Anderson | January 29, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (12)

Home Depot's Expo Heads for the Exit

Another big retailer is bowing out of the game. This time it's Home Depot's Expo Design Centers. The company is closing all of its 34 Expo stores, including our own Bethesda, Columbia and Fairfax locations. These stores were a souped-up version of Home Depot's bath and kitchen departments, where you...

By Tania Anderson | January 27, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (7)

Winter Deals

Is it just me or is my dream of having major sales after the holidays coming true? Seems like everywhere I turn these days there are double-digit discounts and clearances. Not only are retailers trying to make room for spring items but they're also trying to make up for a...

By Tania Anderson | January 22, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (4)

We Hear, We Buy

How many times have you gone shopping because a friend told you about an amazing sale? One by one she pulls out the loot she bought, piles it on your dining room table and tells you how ridiculously little she paid. You grab your wallet and head straight for the...

By Tania Anderson | January 15, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

Shopping for Inauguration Gear

The inauguration is almost here and that means there's lots of stuff to buy. All of the campaign buttons and bumper stickers we stocked up on during election season are now re-worked with the Obama family's faces and the famous January 20, 2009, date. So I went shopping and found...

By Tania Anderson | January 13, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

It's So Hard to Say Good-Bye...

It's hard to say good-bye to an old friend, kinda like seeing your favorite store close. That's exactly what we've been doing for the last year. Saying good-bye to old friends like Linens 'n Things, The Sharper Image and The Bombay Company. Some retailers like Circuit City said they're just...

By Tania Anderson | January 6, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

Cutting Back the Nice-to-Haves

I could hear my mailman struggling to get a certain envelope through my mail slot recently. It was the credit card bill and I knew it was bad when it finally landed like a brick on the floor. So my husband and I sat down and analyzed every line of...

By Tania Anderson | January 1, 2009; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (22)

If You Build It...

Attention all present and future Wegmans fans. I have good news straight from a company spokeswoman. Alexandria may be one of the next locations for the beloved grocery store. The new location, if approved, will be part of a mixed-use project at Telegraph Road and Beulah Street near the Fort...

By Tania Anderson | December 11, 2008; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Holiday Shout-Outs Via E-Mail

I can't wait to start getting this year's holiday cards. Any day now they'll be shooting through my mail slot, chock full of news and photos of what's been happening with friends and family. Or will that even happen this year? A close family member hinted recently that her holiday...

By Tania Anderson | December 4, 2008; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

What Are You Thankful For?

I'm thankful for many things, but as a shopper I'm especially thankful for healthy competition between stores, coupons that are worth at least $1 and don't require you to buy more than what you need, sales that slash prices by at least 30 percent, free shipping, finding the unexpected in...

By Tania Anderson | November 27, 2008; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

To Buy or Rent on Thanksgiving

Turkey? Check. Potatoes for mashing? Check. Ingredients for apple pie? Check. A table large enough for everyone to sit? Uhhh. If I ever hosted my family's Thanksgiving dinner, people would be sitting... well, on the floor. The kids would love it. The adults? Not so much. Here are a few...

By Tania Anderson | November 20, 2008; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Is It About the Experience or the Deals?

One thing I've learned since writing this blog for the last year is that shoppers don't just want a bunch of bananas or a gallon of milk. You want to enjoy the experience of buying those things. At least that's what your comments made me believe when I recently wrote...

By Tania Anderson | November 18, 2008; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (11)

10 Things You Didn't Know About... Trader Joe's

What's not to love about Trader Joe's? The staff all wear Hawaiian shirts, the store is chock full of unique things to eat and drink and there always seems to be some really good deals. Try shopping at any of the region's 16 Trader Joe's and you'll see its large...

By Tania Anderson | November 13, 2008; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (11)

A Love Affair With Wegmans Begins

Dear Wegmans, A crazy thing happened to me this weekend. I fell madly in love with you. I know what you're thinking. Countless people told me to come see you. You even sent me dozens of e-mails, begging for a chance. But I stayed committed to Giant. What can I...

By Tania Anderson | November 11, 2008; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (28)

Sorry SFW, Giant is Still Cheaper

A few weeks ago Shoppers Food Warehouse challenged customers to find a cheaper grocery store. They said they would reimburse customers double the difference in price if they found comparable lower-priced items at a different store. I've written several times in this blog about the best places to buy groceries...

By Tania Anderson | November 6, 2008; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (14)

Deals for Pooch and Kitty

Man's best friend can also be one of man's biggest expenses. Whether yours is a dog or cat, buying their gear can be a major drain on the wallet. So I went in search of the best deals on basic pet supplies. I visited six stores and a few Web...

By Tania Anderson | October 30, 2008; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (20)

Last-Minute Halloween Finds

The scariest thing about Halloween for me is how it always seems to sneak up on me. This was never a problem until I started having kids and they insisted on dressing up. And as much as I try to convince my daughter to be a 5-year-old preschooler for Halloween,...

By Tania Anderson | October 28, 2008; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Buying in Bulk: Wegmans vs. BJ's

I love a good challenge. Like trying to feed my family for a week with $100 or restricting myself from spending any money for seven long days or recently vowing to use at least one coupon every time I go shopping. So when Wegmans, the darling of grocery stores, challenged...

By Tania Anderson | October 23, 2008; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (17)

Shopping for Campaign Gear

Revealing your presidential pick used to be as taboo as disclosing your salary. My grandmother died at 93 having kept her choice in presidents a deep dark secret. Not these days. Now we have bobbleheads, bumper stickers and baseball caps screaming our choice for president. You can even get a...

By Tania Anderson | October 7, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (27)

Buying Native Plants: Cheaper and Greener

I stood out in the rain on Saturday looking at plants. No, I haven't completely lost my marbles. I was drawn to one of the native plant sales that crop up every fall around my neighborhood. It was worth a little bit of wetness to catch some of the deals...

By Tania Anderson | September 30, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (25)

A Little Love for Loyalty

I finally got my wallet to snap shut the other day. I haven't been able to do that for the last decade. I took out all the loyalty cards to count how many I've been suckered into signing up for. It was a whopping 15, which is why I could...

By Tania Anderson | September 23, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (16)

Personal Shoppers for the Masses

It's hard to be completely in the dark about store sales, between e-mail sign-ups and being inundated with advertising. But wouldn't it be nice to have someone gather all your favorite stores and brands in one room and point out what's on sale? That's exactly what Shop It To Me...

By Tania Anderson | September 18, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Going for the CVS Jackpot

Have you ever played the CVS/pharmacy game? The one where you go in and get $30 or $40 worth of toothpaste and diapers for free? Bloggers write about this all the time. They do show and tell, posting pictures of all the stuff they got for free. They even get...

By Tania Anderson | August 21, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (48)

Predictable Stores, Unpredictable Finds

Most chain stores are pretty predictable. Home Depot: home repair stuff. Target: everything from toilet paper to furniture. DSW: shoes, shoes and more shoes. But don't you love it when you go into a predictable store and find something totally unpredictable? Say you go into Target to buy toilet paper...

By Tania Anderson | August 14, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

My So-Called Fiscal Fast

How many times have you gone to Target for some toilet paper and walked out with more than $100 of stuff you didn't really need? It happens to me more often than I'd like to admit. So the idea of going on a fiscal fast, where I couldn't spend a...

By Tania Anderson | July 17, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (10)

Back to School for a Penny

Remember as a kid seeing stores put up those "Back to School Sale" signs? I truly hated those happy little announcements. This year kids are seeing those signs earlier than ever thanks to Staples and Office Depot. The two office supply stores officially launched the back to school season in...

By Tania Anderson | July 15, 2008; 01:00 AM ET | Comments (19)

Shopping for Dad

He taught you how to ride a bike and drive a car. And he helped you with your algebra homework late at night when it was the last thing he wanted to do. (At least mine had to.) Once a year we honor the fathers in our lives, whether they...

By Tania Anderson | June 12, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Renting Designer Goods

Let's face it. We covet others' luxuries. We can't help it. As much as we accept our goods, no matter who designed them, we still wouldn't mind having a Gucci bag or Chanel sunglasses. OK, maybe I'm just that shallow. But sites like Bag Borrow or Steal are willing to...

By Tania Anderson | May 15, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

Shopping With Kids

Ever tried going to the mall with two kids under 5? I don't recommend it. The process often involves a little bribing and a lot of negotiation and leaves you feeling like you ran a marathon by the time you get home. But malls have gotten pretty smart over the...

By Tania Anderson | April 24, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Save or Shop?

They're telling us to spend, spend, spend. The government -- and of course retailers -- want us to blow any tax refund and economic stimulus checks we get. Hey, you don't have to tell me twice. My favorite verb is "spend." But as much as I would love to run...

By Tania Anderson | April 15, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Researching Important Purchases

There's nothing worse than shelling out big bucks for something that just didn't work the way you wanted it to. This has happened to me with a couple of cordless phones and even my current mattress. Where do you, dear readers, get advice on important purchases? There are sources --...

By Tania Anderson | April 10, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

MP3 Suite Responds to Scam Discussion

Thanks, Shop To It readers, for such a lively discussion on the Cheaper Alternatives to Internet Big Dogs blog entry earlier this week. People questioned my inclusion of MP3Suite.com as an alternative to iTunes. Some of you called it a scam and others wanted mention of the site removed. The...

By Tania Anderson | March 27, 2008; 12:03 AM ET | Comments (26)

Cheaper Alternatives to Internet Big Dogs

Update: I understand the concerns about the legitimacy of MP3Suite.com. I recently became a member of the site and have purchased a few songs with no problem. I did, however, notice that many of the songs on the site are unlicensed. After an inquiry to customer service, they told me...

By Tania Anderson | March 25, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (15)

Not Your Mother's Tupperware Parties

You groan as another dreaded invitation arrives in your e-mail inbox. A good friend has agreed to throw a party to sell kitchen gear. Lucky you, you've landed on her invite list. Like many of you out there, I have a love/hate relationship with these types of parties to sell...

By Tania Anderson | January 24, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (10)

Hunting for Deals at C-Mart

Sometimes shopping makes us into some of the best hunters. We go into stores that require us to search for that good deal or that must-have item. We walk away victorious, having slain our cherished find. That was my recent experience at C-Mart, a large discount store in Landover and...

By Tania Anderson | January 17, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (38)

Custom Framing Tips

We like to remember life's special moments, don't we? Whether it be through scrapbooks documenting certain milestones in our lives or through that pile of yearbooks we occasionally dust off to remember bad hair and weird clothes. So getting something framed shouldn't be so complicated, right? For many, choosing between...

By Tania Anderson | January 8, 2008; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (15)

Where the Toys Are

I've learned a lot in my four years as a mother. But one of the best lessons I've gotten is where to buy the best toys and children's books. And sadly it's not Target or Toys "R" Us. Both stores feature rows and rows of toys but not a thing...

By Tania Anderson | December 13, 2007; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Let's Go Outlet Shopping

There's no question that Americans flock to outlet shopping malls like bees to an open soda can. There's the lure of potentially good deals and rows and rows of outlet stores that you would never see in a regular mall. But I've always wondered if outlet malls were worth all...

By Tania Anderson | December 11, 2007; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

Unique Finds in Quaint Occoquan

Just a smidge over the Prince William County border in Virginia is Occoquan, a quaint historic town on the Occoquan River off exit 160 on Interstate 95. Its history goes back to the earliest settlers in Virginia who were attracted to the location for water-based commerce. And these days, Occoquan...

By Tania Anderson | December 6, 2007; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Black Friday Morning: Tamer Than Expected

I could hear my BlackBerry chirping in the early morning hours on Black Friday. No, it wasn't my friends e-mailing me about how wonderful their Thanksgiving feasts were. It was retailers sending out last-minute e-mails to entice shoppers like me with free shipping deals and 50 percent off sales (just...

By Tania Anderson | November 23, 2007; 12:24 PM ET | Comments (0)

Tips for Making Black Friday Not So Scary

The term "Black Friday" sends shivers down my spine in fear and excitement. Fear that if I don't go shopping the day after Thanksgiving, I might be missing the deal of a lifetime. And excitement because the deal of a lifetime is just waiting for me. Some years I've ventured...

By Tania Anderson | November 20, 2007; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (23)

Clicking for Photo Deals

The holidays for me mean lots of picture taking. Photos of the in-laws eating, shots of my daughter striking a pose only a 4-year-old could invent and a picture or two of my husband sleeping with his mouth gaping open on the couch. (It always seems funny at the time.)...

By Tania Anderson | November 15, 2007; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

Airfare Expert Reveals Travel Deals

Type in the words "travel deals" into Google and out spits dozens of sites claiming to have the cheapest airfares. But Airfarewatchdog.com is one worth a try. The privately-funded site uses a team of people to scour online travel agencies such as Travelocity and airline Web sites for cheap airfares...

By Tania Anderson | November 13, 2007; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Old Takoma: Retro to Rawhide

I'm not sure if it's the signs in store windows calling for peace and White House impeachments or the mix of vintage clothing stores and local artistic flair that scream hippie scene in Old Takoma. But it's definitely there in the few blocks of Carroll Avenue and several cross streets...

By Tania Anderson | November 8, 2007; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Electronics: Online vs. Brick-and-Mortar

We covet many things in life other than thy neighbor's wife: nice houses, lucrative careers, a chic wardrobe. And yes, we covet other people's electronics. The devices of choice these days seem to be high-definition televisions, iPods and GPS devices for the car. But the question is -- where to...

By Tania Anderson | November 1, 2007; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (11)

Room for Improvement

They say "Going Out of Business" sales are the best times to buy furniture. And then I've heard January and July are really the months to pick up some new pieces. Personally, I think anytime a furniture store decides to whack 30 percent off its goods, it's probably worth a...

By Tania Anderson | October 30, 2007; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Shopping Clubs: Deal or No Deal?

My mother-in-law vowed recently that she wouldn't buy her meat and fish anywhere else but Costco. My mother gushes over the great deals on wine at BJ's Wholesale Club. And one of my friends heads straight to Sam's Club when she's throwing a party. Personally, I've always been a bit...

By Tania Anderson | October 25, 2007; 03:00 AM ET | Comments (25)

Falling for Summer Sales

Ahh, the end of summer. It certainly outstayed its welcome in Washington this year. How nice to finally cover up the grill and put away shorts and T-shirts that got smaller and smaller throughout the season (or did I just get bigger?). But one of the best things about this...

By Tania Anderson | October 16, 2007; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (12)

About This Blog

I love to shop. I always seem to be in the market for something new, whether it's a bed for my daughter or flooring to spruce up my kitchen. I've spent most of my journalism career covering business and technology, but now I get to share the thrill of the...

By Tania Anderson | October 11, 2007; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (3)

 

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