I have never been one for shopping lists or planning weekly meal menus. And nor, it seems, warehouse furniture shopping.
I have proven that I approach warehouse shopping in exactly the same way I approach food shopping: with spontaneity and according to what is on special.
Of course I will buy the sensible basics, but it's the other miscellaneous items that often become a little blurred and spur of the moment. This means I am always short of shopping bags. I always go in for rice and come out with an extra large pack of ‘on special' toilet paper or mountains of bread that was marked down to a mere 99cents.
In exactly the same way, I found myself in a furniture warehouse clearance store with absolutely no idea how to get my large purchase into my dinky toy of a car.
Here is an absolute fact: A grown woman can carry her own body weight if determined enough to shove a large, heavy-weight carpet the size of a netball field in her car made for scooting around the city, not carrying a carpet consignment.
We are not talking little dhurrie rug here. This carpet was a heavy woollen creation that was so dense it must have required an army to remove it from the loom.
‘I think a small animal could live in there,' a fellow shopper had commented earlier.
Determination, however knows no bounds, and I managed to squeeze the carpet in the car with boot barely closing and the driver's safety severely compromised. I convinced myself that it was absolutely acceptable to drive while pressed up against the driver's door, bottom off centre. This was an emergency.
Warehouse furniture sales, if one is not disciplined and focussed can cause one to lose every ounce of good sense and style the minute one enters the zone. It's nothing like buying toilet paper on special. You will always use the toilet paper. You will not always have use for a decorative urn.
The secret is discipline. New shopping rules apply. I've discovered that while I pride myself for spotting a bargain a mile away, it is only a bargain if I really need it. The way to remain focussed is to make a list prior to leaving home and thus limiting spontaneous buys. A bargain hunter like myself is on dangerous ground when they end up with a heavy weight carpet when what they'd really come for was ....what was it again?
To be fair, it is easy to lose good sense when confronted by a sea of shoppers and an entire shipment of sale items a fraction of their original cost. Pack the consignment into a capacious warehouse and you have confusion.
The annual warehouse sale had caught the attention of the entire population of bargain hunting Brisbanites and competition was fierce. In supermarkets, there are usually enough bargains for everyone. In warehouse clearance sales, there is limited stock. The winner takes all.
There were those quick off the mark - the sensible one's clutching catalogues and shopping lists so they could hone in on the desired item and leave without fuss. They were seasoned warehouse shoppers. They knew what they wanted and departed with exactly that item - no more, no less.
This elite group were untempted by the wall of radically price reduced vases, the piles of velvety cushions, sensual silk sheets and luxurious bath towels. They were unmoved by the heaped bric-a-brac, designer homeware and decorative (read useless) well, stuff.
Then there were those mere mortals like myself and my fellow confused friend who became unravelled, unbalanced and unable to see the wood for the trees, as it were.
Or, as another friend commented about her warehouse clearance experience: 'dizzy, overcome with indecision.'
My friend observed a dangerous, recurring pattern - she didn't like an item until she saw someone else walk off with it.
‘A bit like suddenly liking an ex boyfriend again because he found a new girlfriend,' I commented.
It is also very easy to be influenced by a For Sale sticker that once said $400, and now says $20, no matter that the ottoman in question is canary yellow. Creativity and possible justification for purchase is a common characteristic of a rabid bargain hunter.
The trick is to self talk. A two-seater Fanta orange couch marked down from $800 to a mere $99 was reduced in price for a reason: It is hideous. I have to repeat this self talk several times over and sensibly remain unmoved by the tempting slashed prices.
I came oh so close to falling for a bright green ottoman the colour of mushy peas. ‘Think gracious classic colonial, think gracious colonial,' was my mantra as I perused the vast warehouse, scanning it's bowels for a touch of class.
The carpet, admittedly, was a compromise. It caught my eye as I realised the warehouse rug supply was fast dwindling and I may miss out on a bargain all together. My poor children would forever sit with their cold little bottoms on a worn old kilim rug, threadbare and way past its prime.
The monstrous floor covering was made up of square shades of sludge: Sludge brown, sludge cream that although not quite fitting my classic colonial picture, was a good foil for messy children and their friends.
It had tufts resembling a bed of sea urchins - or fat little grubs I'd seen coming out of my lawn. The label promised it was pure wool and hand woven. My heart went out to the weavers.
It was comfy quite beyond expectation. Like stepping on marshmallows. My sad old kilim had nothing on its cushion-like softness. Several shoppers were eyeing it out. They were coming closer, remarking on how lovely it was, what a bargain marked down from a cool $1400 to a mere $150.
Sold! To the lady squatting like an urchin on the sludge brown worm carpet.
And so it was that I came for a couch and left with a carpet. And a curvaceous bamboo urn that had my husband ask, ‘What is it? I would never in million years have imagined you'd choose something like that.' And a teal coloured wicker footstool worn and yes, rather colonial, I self-talked. For just one dollar, I was not about to haggle. I also found pastel green camping cups. And dare I admit it, another rug. Black, with orange, sage green and rust squiggles. Pure wool, marked down from $499 to $50. An absolute bargain.
Soon to be auctioned on Ebay...
And the sludge slug carpet? My children love it. One has already spilled an entire mug of Milo on a chocolate sludge square and it blended beautifully...
Copyright © 2009 by Lois Nicholls