Shopping tips from 'Bargain Fever' by Mark Ellwood

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For the bad shoppers among us, journalist Mark Ellwood has examined the history of shopping and the current state of savvy consumers who consider paying full price passé. In his meticulously researched book Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World, Ellwood goes everywhere from upscale department store Bergdorf Goodman to the crowded aisles of a Turkish bazaar to outlet malls in Pennsylvania. Along the way, he also imparts insider tips to scoring deep discounts. Here’s just a small sample:

1. Is there a way to score primo merchandise—like Chanel bags—at outlets?
Think proximity. The best Neiman Marcus outlets, for example, “will always be near a major NM,” explains Ellwood.

2. How can you outwit the mobs at sample sales?
Sales always have VIP previews, but they’re rarely policed—”so the enthusiastic bargain hunter who turns up an hour early” will likely be allowed to shop.

3. What’s the best way to negotiate a discount on a full-price item?
Pay cash. According to Ellwood, even high-end stores will routinely take off 20% to 50% if you start peeling bills from your wallet.

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