by Nic Tatano
Men can’t shop.
Hey, I’ll admit it, most of us are clueless when it comes to shopping. I know a guy whose wife was doing some interior decorating and sent him out to buy sconces. He went to the bakery and came home with a bag of scones.
It was so bad that when I was single and needed to shop I asked this many times of my married buddies: “Can I borrow your wife?” They understood, being on the same page with me, their wives eager to help knowing I might mix stripes and plaids together if left to my own devices.
Still, I never understood the appeal until my wife came home one day and handed me a very nice shirt. Since I’ve worked in TV news most of my life I really don’t need any clothes, but then she added the piece of information that intrigued me. “I got it for thirty cents.”
She had hit one of her favorite places, a salvage joint, a place that buys stuff from insurance companies or stores going out of business for pennies on the dollar. It always looks as though looters (politically correct term: “undocumented shoppers”) have raided the place. Nothing organized, stuff all over the floor. As for why this place was so appealing she explained it in terms simple enough for any man to understand. “It’s not just the bargain, it’s the hunt.”
Being a reporter, I had to investigate the allure of the bargain quest, so one day when I was in the neighborhood I visited the salvage shop. As soon as I opened the door the smell of smoke hit me in the face. Apparently they had a ton of smoke and water damaged clothing after a fire broke out in a department store. And then I noticed a sign on a table that caught my eye.
“Men’s suits. Two dollars.”
Seriously? This seemed so ridiculous I had to check it out. I assumed I’d find a bunch of seer sucker suits (sold at Sears, bought by a sucker) in the pile of clothing all tangled up on top of the table. Instead, it was covered with good stuff. I poked through and found a grey windowpane suit with a water damaged tag on it. My size. I pulled the thing out and looked at the label.
You gotta be kidding me.
I took the suit to a trying room and had to hold my breath as I put the thing on, it smelled so bad. So wrinkled it looked as though I’d slept in it.
But it fit perfectly.
And then it happened. My smile went wide and my heart rate spiked. I had found an incredible bargain.
Just like that, I understood the appeal of shopping.
I bought the suit, paid a dry cleaner ten bucks to get the smoke and wrinkles out, got the slacks hemmed, and ended up with a very nice addition to my wardrobe.
So now shopping is fun. The “clearance” sign has become a magnet. Bargains are a natural high, the hunt makes me feel like a kid digging for treasure in the backyard. They are literally “cheap thrills.”
Just part of my education to help me understand how women think. But now I must go, because as I write this it’s Tuesday, and that’s ten-percent-off day at the salvage shop. Hey, I’m a male romance writer and need to get inside a woman’s head. It’s research.
Yeah, let’s go with that.
Nic Tatano is published by HarperImpulse, the digital imprint of HarperCollins UK. He is the author of several romantic comedies and a young adult series with sassy redheads as heroines.