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


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.


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 $79 all-in at Walmart (it’s also $79 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!


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 taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 72 Comments

  1. Randie Cadiogan

    I think it’s important to note that we should always be cautious especially when shopping online. No matter how much it is that we are spending online, it’s still “hard-earned” money that of course, we don’t want to waste.

    I believe a “trusted” online seller is someone who has been in online business for  5+ years and have gained more than a hundred comment. A trusted online seller is someone who has sold both expensive and cheap products. Particularly for eBay, these points can always be checked which I really appreciate 🙂

  2. Very useful tips!!! One downside: now I’m obsessed with calculating all the money I wasted paying full price for everything! :/ LOL

  3. Joanne Samonte

    Mmmm… I'm so glad I came across this article in time for my holiday shopping 🙂

  4. Sarah Evanston

    Hi, I want to say thanks for giving valuable information regarding online shopping. This article was really helpful because use eBay and other online shopping sites frequently. This article is worth sharing!

  5. Jen Garcia

    Beware of online scammers! There are a lot of them present online. Online shopping is good (or I can say it’s the best because I don’t have to waste so much time in line at the cashier especially during holiday rush) but every online shopper NEEDS to be careful ALWAYS!

  6. Courtney Watson

    I just recently tried shopping via eBay. And I definitely agree with the author that if you bid early, there’s a big chance of spending more than what you actually allotted for a particular item. What I do now is if I want an item, I set a budget and I stick to it. I make sure to have 3 choices so that if I get out-bidden, I still have options.

    Checking the seller’s feedback helps a lot! In this time and age, it’s hard to just spend your money to “dishonest” sellers.

    Always shop with caution!

  7. I'd never thought of visiting eBay for discounts, but that's a great tip! Will definitely try it out next time I need something.

  8. Once you said Ebay!!! I knew exactly what you're talking about. I'm a bargain hunter myself and manage to always find great deals on ebay for possibly anything. I always tell my friends about it, and they seem to still not try it. Last year I decorated my whole room from decals to even bought a canopy to put over my bed for all cheap prices. It's simply amazing.

  9. Jen Spillane

    I love eBay! Thanks for the tips!

  10. Reading this article was extremely helpful; now I will definitely visit eBay to find online shopping options and skip the expensive "discount" designer websites. Being careful online is super important, so ironing out shipping or any details that may confuse you will increase your chances of a successful (and gorgeous) purchase on eBay.

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