Saturday, November 13, 2010

Shopping Trip! How I Shop at Winners

Ah, I just love a long weekend - Thursday was a holiday in Canada (Remembrance Day), so I took Friday off too. The lovely Cat also had the day off, so we met up for brunch and went shopping at Winners (I had my $60 gift card to spend!).

A trip to Winners is not to be taken lightly. Many people find it overwhelming: all those racks just jammed with clothes, people and shopping carts everywhere, and so much to look at! It's exhausting just thinking about it.

That's why I plan very carefully in advance, starting with what I'm going to wear. I nearly always wear a dress to shop at Winners (or any other big store, like Value Village) simply because it's easy to take on and off. Who wants to mess with jeans or a button-up shirt in a fitting room? Not me!

I've numbered my key areas below:
1. Earrings: small rhinestone studs. They're not going to snag on anything that I try on, or likely to go flying off if I pull tops overy my head.

2. Wide neckline: this makes it easier to get the dress on and off without messing up my hair, knocking my glasses off or rubbing off my makeup on to my clothes.

3. Statement necklace: no rough edges anywhere on this, so no snagging on sweaters. It also helps keep this outfit from being totally boring.

4. Tights: these pair also have control top, so if I'm trying on any skirts or dresses, I know exactly how they are going to fit. I also went with a neutral colour (these are heathered grey) so that they don't distract from whatever I'm trying on. Tights are not useful if you're shopping for pants, however - if I were shopping for jeans or dress pants, I'd go bare-legged but with high socks and boots.

5. Slip-on low-heeled shoes: I walked to town in these, then shopped for 3 hours, then walked home from town. My feet felt fine! Slip-on shoes are essential for shopping; messing about with buckles or laces is a huge pain when you're trying on shoes, or have to take off your shoes to try on a dress, skirt or pants.

Dress (Max Studio), tights (probably Hue), shoes (Kenneth Cole Reaction, gift from Cat), necklace (Shi Studio).

It was a nice sunny, but crisp, day. Shopping in outerwear can be exceedingly annoying; there's nothing worse than getting sweaty and feeling bulky when you're shopping - it will wear your patience. I went with a thin 3/4-sleeved jacket:
This allows me to get my hands right into the racks without sleeve cuffs getting in the way.

A few warm accessories keeps me from freezing my butt off:
Someone was hiding in the side of the photo (see him?).

Long suede gloves to fill in the gap with the short jacket sleeves, and a nice wooly soft cashmere scarf (thin and lightweight). Both of those items easily went into my purse while I shopped.

Jacket (Smart Set), scarf (Club Monaco), gloves (Le Chateau), bag (Ollie & Nic).

Heading to the mall in the Loser Cruiser!
Oh yeah! I find riding the bus a very Zen-like experience. You miss a bus...another will come. There is no just get off when you want.

And we arrive!
The store is starting to get their Christmas stuff in (already? man!).

We headed to the hosiery, belts and purses section first:
Scouted for deals - I always find interesting stuff in the hosiery department.

I always use a shopping cart at Winners. Just toss everything you are even remotely interested in into the cart, and sort through it later. If you plan to go back for something, odds are that it'll be gone when you return.

Cat and I have a good start: some knee-highs for me, some tights and a belt for her:
I always head to the shoe department next (I get very excited about shoe departments, giddy almost). Check out the awesome boots I found: They're sort of a black-purple mix. Love the studs, too. I squealed about these for a good hour. I'll be wearing these soon!

I also do a scout of the mens' shoe section - I know how L's shoes fit on my feet so I am pretty good at picking out shoes for him. These rockin' shoes were too good to pass up, especially at $32.00:
He loved them!

After we combed all the shoe racks (you have to check through all the size sections, because people move things around), we headed over to the clothes section:
Dresses and outerwear first. I go through the clearance sections, then scout through for anything that catches my eye. Because I already have a black winter coat and several black dresses, I narrowed my focus to colour.

We then moved into the actual clothing sections, dragging our shopping cart with us and parking it at the end of the aisles so we could keep an eye on it and make sure no one pilfered our fab finds.

I start at one end and work my way down:
I search for interesting colours, patterns and clothing that feels nice. I'll also check out how an item is faring from being handled on the racks. Satins that are getting fuzzy in the shoulders and cashmere sweaters that are starting to pill just from being together are a big "no, thanks" for me.

The racks are not as scary as they seem, because there is so much duplication. You're likely to see the same sweater 50 times in all sizes. This makes the racks faster to go through, since you can skip over the duplicates and watch for the unique items.

By the time we've done the racks, it's been about 2.5 hours of shopping. I'm getting tired! Time to head for the fitting rooms, which are back in the shoe department.

Because they only allow a limited number of items in the fitting room, we parked our cart and started going through stuff we could try on in the aisle, like sweaters, coats and jackets:
You can eliminate a lot of things this way, and save yourself time in the fitting room. I tried on a coat, 3 sweaters and a jacket (as well as those boots again) in front of the big mirror.

I only had to take 4 things into the fitting room, which sped things up and made the try-on experience much easier. I ended up with a sweater, a cardigan, a top, some knee-highs and a pair of boots! I'll be wearing them all this week!

And that's how I shop at Winners! This type of shopping strategy also works in other large department store type of environments, like Value Village or a big thrift store.

(Note: I have no affiliation with Winners - this is just one of the places that I shop a couple times a year. No compensation was received by me for this feature.)


  1. You basically just described how I shop too! It's a very good system. Winner's looks a lot like TJMaxx or Ross.

    Your new boots are so cute! I can't wait to see what you pair them with.

  2. We have almost the exact opposite organizational strategy at Winners - I start with the clothing, then outwear, shoes and finally hosiery and belts! However, the three Winners locations I visit with any frequency (not that much!!) aren't very high trafficked, so the chances of something going MIA is highly unlikely.
    Have you tried different Winners? I find that of my "three" (I feel like I live in 3 different cities!!), they each have different strengths. I NEVER find shoes at the one in my current city. The one in my parents city does a great job of them, though. Finally, the one by my grandparents is a fabulous place for belts, but very weak at everything else!
    And thanks for the great comments on my blog today - guess I don't have to leave you a link and tell you to check it out :P

  3. Megan, great minds think alike, hee! Yeah, I've heard those stores are similar. Thanks!

    Cara, I don't think it matters what order you shop in at all - whatever works for you! There are two Winners in my city - the other one sucks, if I recall.

  4. Wow. You and A-Dubs are the masters of this. I usually shop at Winners with A-Dubs (well, when we lived in the same city) and she is very much of the throw-it-in-the-cart-and-decide-later mentality. And she always finds fabulous stuff. I need shopping mentors way over here on the east coast!

    Can't wait to see your stuff in action.

  5. as my dad would say, "Boffo post!"

    very interesting and complete, from dressing strategy to how to keep your finds from accidentally going home with someone else. Brava!!! steph

  6. I find it interesting, and instructive, that you have a deliberate method of shopping. My haphazard approach could use some of your calculated approach.

    I've often lost the chance to buy something I liked because I didn't do what you do (toss it in a cart); when I returned to get it, it was gone. It never occurred to me that putting something in a cart is a reversible act; I assumed it was a commitment to buy the object and, when unsure, I'd hold off on taking it. You're full of good advice, Sheila!

  7. The outfit priorities, cart method, pre-dressing room eliminations and rack search techniques are exactly what I did back in my Value Village thifting heydey. Sounds like I was doing something right!

  8. D-Meds, aw, you can do it on your own, I know you can!

    Steph, thanks! Nothing steams me like wishing I'd grabbed something earlier and finding out it's gone.

    Thanks, Freeda!

    Ralph, thanks, glad you found it useful. Methodical works! No, you're never committed to an item until you've bought it and ripped the tags off.

  9. I want to shop with you! Other than my brother I haven't really shopped with someone who has the stamina that I do. I love to go through entire shop just to see what's there, just in case there is something special lurking. I really like your shopping dress. Simple, but very cute.

  10. Smart lady! Great shopping outfit because your comfortable and in control. I like to also carry my trusty tape measure, a protein bar and water to help me make it through a shopping session. I only want to be dizzied by the selection;)

    L's new shoes look great. My husband has only found things he likes at the Winners in Toronto. I wish we went there more often.

    Shopping at Winners is a marathon event where you have to be prepared for anything. Some stores are a haphazard mess, clothing and shoes laying everywhere, and others nice and neat with everything in order.

    Can't wait to see your boots in action!

  11. You look super cute ! I love Gray tights. This is a very good strategy for shopping.

  12. Top post :-). Love the tip to wear long gloves with a 3/4 sleeved coat - I've never bought one on the theory that if it's cold enough for a coat, you're going to need sleeve coverage!

    I was also going to say Winners looks just like TKMaxx (no idea why we have a K in the UK and the US has a J?!)

    I tend to shop there if I know what I want (my dress for S's birthday party in July, for example), otherwise I get overwhelmed - but whatever I'm in there for (a vase for my sister!) I always browse the rails, and sometimes find a gem :-)

    Next time I've got some spare cash though I'm definitely going to try a proper, scheduled, planned trip!

  13. Your shopping strategy makes a lot of sense. It also makes me realize that I'm definitely NOT a shopper :)

    Hey, those boots are AMAZING. I KNOW I can look forward to seeing you in some great outfits featuring them!

  14. I definitely have to mentally prepare myself before I can go shopping in a store like that or it can be overwhleming! Thanks for the tips :)

  15. Great tips! Very similar to my M.O. at thrift stores. Velma

  16. Woo! 'Like looking in a shopping mirror, in terms of Winners strategies, but I've got things to learn from you shopping-outfit-wise! My mom and I are heading to Winners this afternoon, so I'll see if I can reproduce even a teensy bit of your sweet shopping ensemble.

  17. Yikes - you spend two and a half hours going through the racks at Winners??!!! You have a different shopping style than me for sure!

    Even at my favourite consignment shop I scan the racks fairly quickly unless I'm specifically looking something such as "black pants". Then I peruse item by item. Otherwise I figure if it's meant to be it will jump out at me. I spend a the most an hour and a half (long lunch) including trying on.

    I like your shopping outfit - very well thought out, and looks good too (as always!!)

  18. This was awesome- it's like watching you plan and fortify for battle! ROFLMAO!

    I can't wait to see the "spoils of battle" in your upcoming posts.

  19. Hi Sheila

    Like others, I really enjoyed seeing how you approached this. Shopping is an art form. I took my friend shopping today and practiced this dark art!

    Secret Squirrel x

  20. My favourite thing about Winners?
    The very convenient and EASY return/exchange policy. There's one near where I live and depending if I have my wee monster with me, I'm not always able to try on at the store (usually dresses, skirts, pants). I'll go home, see if it works, and if not, exchange the next day, tags attached, receipt in hand - and never any issue.
    I also find that different Winners have different merchandise. One near where I worked had the best shoes and amazing accessories (and nice shoes for larger feet!)

  21. Kelly, right on! I do the same with Value Village.

    Alison, that's something I didn't mention - I have to shop with someone compatible with my shopping style, otherwise, it's no fun. Thanks!

    Jen, thanks! A tape measure is a good idea - I often have water or a snack too (not this time). I'd like to be able to hit the other Winners in town, but it's over an hour by bus, so not really viable for me.

    Thanks, Emma!

    Thank you, Tat! I love 3/4 sleeves with long gloves (where else would you use them?) - it's such a chic look. Browsing the edges is also a good strategy, especially when you don't have a lot of time.

    Rebecca, thanks! Oh, you are a shopper, but there's just different styles. I love the boots - I'll be wearing them tonight.

    Iris, agreed - it's taken me a long time to get this strategy down pat.

    Velma, nice to know others do this too, thanks!

    A-Dubs, yeah, I hear you're my shopping twin! Have a great shop!

    Northmoon, no, no, 2.5 hours overall. The shoe department alone is nearly an hour. In consignment stores, I got through every single item - if I'm looking for something specific, I still go through every item. In Winners, I scan pretty quickly, but I'm very thorough. Thanks!

    Thanks, 'Doll! I wore the new coat yesterday.

    Thanks, SS! I hope it worked on your shopping trip!

    Hi, Ms. Red, thanks for commenting! Yes, the exchange/return policy is really good (although I rarely return anything to any store) - it's great when you've got a little one with you. Yes, I need to check out other Winners stores!

  22. ah shopping is fun! n it seems u really now how to make it more fun and effective. look forward for ur post with the new boots :)

  23. Thanks, Nilcha, you'll be seeing them soon.

  24. Well thank you for taking us along.
    I actually think you look marvelous for a shopping spree.
    I will take your suggestions, specially wearing a dress- for next time I go shopping, most of the time I AM in jeans and button downs!

  25. You're very welcome, Lorena! Good luck on your next shop!


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