The best bargain yet?

I had an incredible Inspired Shopping experience on Sunday, bagging a dress for $20 that was originally $155 -- without really trying! Let me explain.

I'd idly thought about buying something new to wear on Christmas Day. As well as the usual family get-together for lunch, this year my sister was hosting the huge Christmas bash my extended family (on my mum's side) holds annually, which includes aunties and uncles, cousins, and the cousin's kids. But I wasn't going to look for anything special to wear -- I had a few things in reserve. Still, I had been fairly disciplined about buying new clothes for a while, so I left the possibility open.

I was certainly not planning a big shopping expedition on Sunday. However, a friend and I decided to go for a walk along a popular beach not far from Melbourne's city centre, in the afternoon. Whenever I go to this beach I make a point of visiting a small clothes and accessories shop in the main shopping street. It's one of those little places (the word 'boutique' doesn't sound right for this place, it's too hip) that's great fun to to just browse in, but they also have amazing bargains -- smaller shops often do, because they don't have factory outlets they can consign their unsold goods to. Anyway, this is the kind of store I'm happy to browse in without buying anything, and I enjoy its low-key, quirky atmosphere.

As usual, the shop had a rack of cut-price clothes out the front -- all for $20. And there, among the T-shirts and garish colours, was a grey waisted dress with a gathered neck and long sleeves, marked down from $155.

Now, despite the fact that my friend was urging me to try it on, and it was an incredible bargain, I wasn't going to try it on automatically. I tested my intuition first. Over the years I've developed what I call an 'intuition alarm' -- this tells me when I need to buy something and when I need to leave it be. I 'relinquished' the item (imagining I didn't want it and putting it back on the rack) and my intuition alarm went off. So of course I had to try it on. When I put the dress on, I immediately felt like a young girl on Christmas Day preparing to receive a huge present. It was a party dress, and I loved it. After buying it I deposited it in my car and then went for my refreshing walk along the beach, enjoying chatting with my friend and watching the windsurfers (it was a windy day) and the people out walking their dogs.

This unexpected find illustrates a number of Inspired Shopping principles. In this case, my main aim was a walk along the beach, and I really felt the urge to do this. Looking in at the shop was just something I did because I was in the area, but again it felt right to do. Because I wasn't desperately hunting for something to wear I was open to possibilities. I also knew that I might not buy anything from the store, and in this case, I wouldn't have felt particularly deprived.

As I practise the Inspired Shopping process more and more, it just keeps getting easier and more fun!

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