Your New Secret to Majorly Discounted Shopping - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog

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Your New Secret to Majorly Discounted Shopping

Tips to get everything for a fraction of retail price… and the nasty secret behind sites like Gilt.

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A few days ago, I went to a Gilt event, where Zac Posen had designed a car (apparently, silver is the new cool color for cars). I was standing near him and the pro photographer asked if he could take a photo of us together. I said “No way”, of course — JK! Anyhow, Zac and I chatted for a few minutes (he seemed very down to earth and approachable) before the orchestrators at Gilt decided to open the proverbial barn doors and let everyone stampede into the sale area.

Your New Secret to Majorly Discounted Shopping

Zac Posen with Hilary Rowland

Now, you’d expect a Gilt sale to be super amazing, right? I’d imagined racks of designer clothing, in perfect shape, at rock-bottom prices. But no, actually. Most of the items looked like they’d been stuffed in someone’s closet for a year, and they were clearly returns or items that didn’t sell. There was pretty much one of each item, sooooo hope it fits! Beyond that, the items weren’t any cheaper (as far as I could tell, anyway) than their mildly discounted web sales.

The way most discount or flash sale websites work is this: they take an item, change the name so you can’t google it, and sell it for around what you’d get it for elsewhere (if not more). They flat-out lie about the “original/retail price” then they tack on the extra bonuses of expensive and slow shipping and a final-sale no-return policy. Nice.

One Kings Lane

One Kings Lane hides the fact that they’re selling products for more than retail. They artificially inflate the “retail” price (like, way high) and charge more than retail, all the while pretending it’s on some sort of hugely discounted sale. Oh, and they deliberately rename all the products so it’s hard to find them (and realize that they’re cheaper) on Google.

Your New Secret to Majorly Discounted Shopping

Like the white lamp above? I first saw it for $185 plus tax on OneKingsLane, and loved it, but I ended up buying it for $96 all-in at Walmart (it’s also only about $100 at Overstock.)

Here’s an example: Their “Houston End Table” was on “sale” at One Kings Lane for $329. +$32 shipping ($361.) Yet I managed to find the exact same table (sold on about 10 different websites, at the time) and, at the time of the One Kings Lane sale, the normal retail price was $287. with free shipping, which is $74 cheaper than the supposedly discounted price at One Kings Lane.

Oh yeah, and unlike these daily deal sites (aside from Joss & Main, which actually has some good deals and allows returns), the majority of regular online stores give you the option to return the product if you don’t like it for some reason.

Wondering if the product you’re drooling over is available on other sites? The fastest way to find out is to right-click the image and select “Search Google for this image”. Happy shopping!

Your New Secret to Majorly Discounted Shopping

On the web: $89.95 and free 2nd day delivery — on One Kings Lane: $99.00 + $9.95 for shipping (=$20 more), and it’ll arrive in (get this) literally a MONTH!

Gilt

I think the image below pretty much sums it up. Oh, and Amazon has free and fast shipping, while Gilt’s shipping is $$$ and super slow, which brings the price to more than a 50% markup. Same kind of ripoff as One Kings Lane.

Your New Secret to Majorly Discounted Shopping

Ok, now for my secret…

I just bought a gorgeous new pair of Dolce & Gabbana lace booties for only $130. US (believe it or not, the retail price on these is $1050. US). I also bought a new off-white Coach clutch purse for 40 bucks (the in-store retail price is $140.) In fact, my entire wardrobe is filled with designer clothes, shoes, and accessories that I have purchased for a fraction of their retail price. How? I shop online at eBay.

Your New Secret to Majorly Discounted ShoppingLike my friends, you’re probably in disbelief. Last week we all went out for dinner. I wore a skirt to show off my new lace boots. My friends noticed them right away. The compliments didn’t stop all night. At dinner, one of my friends asked where I got them and how much I paid. When I told her there was dead silence, followed by “how do you buy designer clothing for cheap online?” Everyone looked puzzled as if I had just explained a new theory of relativity.

We then entered an interesting conversation about online shopping. Some think I’m crazy. They say that they would never shop online. They need to touch the fabric and try on the clothes before they buy. Some thought they’d get ripped off and lose money. Others wanted to get in on the deals. The funny part is they seem to believe I’m the only one capable of finding these discounts. The reality is anyone can do it, here’s how:

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A writer, artist and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 69 Comments

  1. James Hannks

    Going to use this advice buy cheaper kicks. Buying at Nike, and Adidas is very expensive. I will give it a try on eBay.

    • Steev Smith

      I was thinking of that too. Our technology is fast upgrading, and before we knew, we are living in the future.

  2. George Sumanta

    This article is a whack! I love how you teach us to how to get huge discounts on eBay, Thanks for sharing your secret! Love you, Hilary.

  3. Dawn Katz

    You are very lucky to have a conversation with Zac Posen!!!! He’s my idol when it comes to designing. Waaa!!!

  4. Kimberly Holder

    You are an amazing person, Hilary! When I was at school I used to live way out in the countryside with no means of getting to the ‘cool’ shops let alone affording anything – we weren’t very well off. Buying and selling on ebay was a great way for me to keep up with trends and have nice things that I wouldn’t normally be able to access or afford. I haven’t used it in years as back then it required a lot of time and commitment but maybe I should give it another go today – it is better for the environment to shop second hand.

  5. Kathryn Gibson

    I and my husband are fans of online shopping. Most of the time we are at work, and we don’t have spare time to buy things at the malls. I thank eBay for saving us!

  6. Blanche Martina

    Online shopping is very popular today. They don’t want to waste time looking for parking spaces and driving to the malls.

  7. Jodi Thil

    Wow! Thanks, Hilary. You taught us how to purchase things through online! It’s not easy, especially for beginners. Thanks! love love

  8. Candis Melton

    What I like on eBay is that you can buy items around the world. I purchased stuff from Asia. You must pay the shipping fee, but it’s all worth it once you get the items.

  9. Joss Butler

    I let my girlfriend read this article, and I’m just staring at her. I watched her laughing and smiling like a crazy woman. Lol.

  10. Kylie Johnson

    I use eBay regularly and have for years, same thing – followed searches, sometimes I have exceeded my maximum searches…but I have never shilled ( I don’t sell, just buy) and I find some of the tactics in this article a bit off-putting. That said, many, many things can come your way if you are patient. It took nearly ten years for a pair of amazing pumps to show up in my size, and new to boot. It took even longer for a pair of nearly-vanished cowboy boots to show up in my size (apparently ALL the people with size 10s either threw ’em out eventually or didn’t list them on eBay!) but they did..and barely worn. I have had some amazing, amazing scores over the years. And yes, the thrill of the hunt cannot be denied. And there is perhaps no victory as sweet as that of being the victor in a bidding war. 🙂

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