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Scoring Big this Boxing Week

Written by Fiona Ellis -Special to the Star

The festivities are over, the bells have rung, presents have been opened and you’re existing solely on leftover turkey sandwiches. There’s no need for post-Christmas blues though, because now’s the perfect time of year to splash the cash on a new wardrobe in the Boxing Week sales. A closet overhaul can do wonders for your confidence, says image consultant Michelle Gallant.
“A great thing to do at this time of year is to start to pick up the pieces you normally wouldn’t make the bigger investment on,” she says. “For example, that cute expensive leather bomber jacket that was $500, and you thought: ‘Oh, I can’t justify it.’ You could get lucky just after Christmas and find it for a fraction of the price.” Barbara Captijn, Toronto personal shopper and director of Insider Shopping Toronto, agrees it’s a good time of year to look out for classic pieces. “This is a great time to score pieces we might never be able to afford at normal price levels,” she says. “For example, that great-fitting, quality-fabric, versatile jacket. Or that perfectly cut pant in a colour to suit the rest of your wardrobe, or a great coat, which is the first thing people notice about you.” Make a plan before you go, and avoid impulse buying, advises Captijn. “Decide which shops you want to target, and the items you’re looking for; remind yourself what suits your body type and try to resist ‘fads’ at great prices if you know they don’t suit you.” Buy fun items but also buy quality items. The after-holiday sales are a good time to invest in great-quality cut and design, she continues. “Try everything on, of course, and look at linings, seams, buttons and examine the quality of the fabric closely to see if it resists easy creasing. “Classics on sale, if they fit you, are a great find. Trendy items like cuff bracelets, and leather or waxed slim pants are the fun items,” Captijn says. It pays to think ahead, says Gallant. “You’ll get great prices on shoes and fall/winter boots right now. You might not need snow boots for this year. The ones you have in your closet are going to last for the rest of the season, but you might get them on sale now and have them for next year at a fraction of the price.”

Top Things to Buy

Right now you are getting fall/ winter clearance, says Gallant.
Great things to buy are:

  • A top quality cashmere sweater in a versatile colour.
  • Basic tops
  • Cardigans
  • Cropped jackets
  • Shrugs
  • Blazers
  • Coats, trenches, leather jackets
  • Quality leather handbags in neutral, classy colours
  • Boots
  • Snow-shoes
  • Skiwear

What Every Wardrobe Needs

  • Three skirts (in different shapes and colours which suit your body type and marry with the rest of your wardrobe colours)
  • Two pairs of dark pants (simple lines, quality fabric)
  • Two pairs of jeans (one for flats, one for heels)
  • A crisp white shirt
  • Several black and white T-shirts
  • Two beautifully cut jackets, one tailored, one sporty or boyfriend
  • An LBD (little black dress)
  • A great coat, timeless, leather, suede, in a length that works with your other clothing . . . or a well-cut quality trench

Tips for the Savvy Shopper

Written by Fiona Ellis -Special to the Star

Know the ropes to save a bundle — even while you splurge.

COUPONS, PROMOTIONAL CODES AND REWARDS

There are tons of websites and instore flyers that offer coupons, promotional codes, and discounts that customers can use to save even more on their shopping. Sites like redflagdeals.com and retailmenot.com let customers peruse hundreds of retailers and service provider’s deals, sales, flyers, free gifts and coupons.

CASHBACK SITES/REBATES

Sites like ebates.com give customers a chance to earn while shopping in the form of rebates. Ebates gives you a percentage of your purchase back in cash when you shop at more than 500 of the most well-known brands online including Sephora, The Bay, Indigo.ca and Old Navy. Canadian orders through Ebates have grown year on year by more than 300 per cent,
says Adrienne Down Coulson, general manager, Ebates Canada. Shop.ca customers can earn points through the site’s Social Loyalty Network by sharing, recommending and buying on the site. One shop.ca reward is equal to $1.

FREE SHIPPING

Assess shipping costs carefully; sometimes it might be better to pick up a gift in store. However, many sites like book retailer bookdepository-.com, online-only fashion store asos-.com, or online shoe shop zappos-.com have free shipping, making bargains an even better deal.

YEAR-ROUND SALES ONLINE

While Black Friday and Boxing Day sales provide bargains to shoppers, lots of websites have a sale section all 12 months. Often items go on sale online before they do in store. Many sites also have daily deals and sections where you can pick up overstocked items for less.

CASHBACK CREDIT CARDS

Most major financial providers now have cashback credit cards where customers earn a percentage cash reward when they buy gas, groceries or anything at all. Some cards also allow the user to earn bonus cash rewards on their first purchase, provide travel insurance and charge no annual fees.

APPS

Apps can give customers information on real-time deals near them. Yellow Pages’ latest free app Shopwise allows users to find deals closest to them and view them on a map, as well as personalizing deal alerts. The free Canadian Tire app alerts customers when items they’ve added to their list go on sale and also allows them to access flyers and product reviews.

Diamonds create gem of a gift state

Written by Jaclyn Tersigni -Special to the Star

Just like a cuddly new pet, gift-giving isn’t just at Christmas. Enter the Gift Network, a Canadian solution to finding a unique and interesting gift that, get this, the recipient actually wants. Set up by brothers Ari and Cole Diamond, the website is a one-stop gift giving and shopping portal. Users create a registry of wish-list items from more than 200 retailers. Then gift givers shop from these registries, and can buy any item through the site, or purchase a gift card that can be used with any retailer with which the Gift Network has partnered.

“The Gift Network gift card is what I’m most personally excited about from my own consumer point of view,” says Ari. “Traditionally, gift cards were only in malls and big box retailers. With the Gift Network gift card you can go down to Queen St., walk around, and we have 15 (registered) stores within two kilometres.” The Gift Network’s list of retailers is national, with locations in Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Ottawa and Vancouver. Most, however, are Toronto shops, including favourites such as Preloved, Crumpler, Curbside Cycle, IQliving, Moksha Yoga studios and more. “Our niche is mom-and-pop shops,” says Cole. “We go out of our way to make sure we’re selecting high-quality stores that also have high-quality staff offering great customer service.
“Independent retailers are locked out of gift registries,” he says. “They don’t have a wide enough product offering to support a gift registry.” The Diamonds’ site also allows couples creating a wedding registry to add items from as many retailers as they’d like, online or in-store, instead of just one. For purchases made through the web, shipping and delivery varies by retailer but the site will let you know if an item is available for purchase online or in-store, and what the delivery process will be like for each item if
purchased on the website. “What we’re doing for the first time is taking all these stores selling these unique goods . . . and we’re putting them in one place,” says Cole. “We’re giving consumers access to these products at one destination.” Diamonds create gem of a gift site Brothers Ari and Cole Diamond created the Gift Network, a one-stop gift giving and shopping portal.