Shopping for my clients is one of my favourite tasks, yet highly time-consuming. Online shopping sometimes reduces searching time, but delivery time can be much longer, and you don’t always get what you expect and have to start over.
Here are some shopping efficiency strategies I use to shorten the shopping time when I’m sourcing locally for multiple items. Use these to make your shopping more efficient, whatever you’re shopping for. These will work for furniture, linens, gifts, clothing, paint, and just about anything else.
Prepare as much detail as you can before you head out. This may include measuring your space for ideal sizing. Take the time to write a detailed shopping list. My list often includes ideal measurements and budgeted price. I choose my order of stores, as well, starting with stores which I expect to supply the most items on my list.
Bring the tools that will help.
I always have a measuring tape on me, and my phone to have photos of job sites, as well as to take pictures with. And I always have a colour fan deck in my car. I often have samples of materials with me, such as a piece of the floor tile and wall colour to match up to new countertop and backsplash. Colour and pattern swatches can be very helpful; maybe bringing a sham from the bedding or a cushion from the living room.
Check in with someone who knows where to find what.
If you’re not already familiar with the retail options available, a friend who shops a lot, or someone in the field of whatever you want to source, can suggest where to find things in your budget.
One-stop shopping is ideal.
Choose stores that allow you to find multiple items on your list. Not only does this save time, but it allows you to place pieces side-by-side and make sure they work well together. It’s not unusual for me to move tables and chairs around in a furniture store as I pull together a seating arrangement.
Remain a little flexible.
If you head out to find the perfect, precisely defined thing, you may be disappointed. If you head out with predetermined parameters instead (colour, size, function, cost, suitability), you may find perfection in something you hadn’t thought of.
Expect success and believe in yourself.
Try not to sabotage your efforts by telling yourself you hate shopping, or you won’t find what you want. Tell the Universe you expect to find just what you need. And when you find it, listen to your first instinct and quiet that doubting voice which might talk you out of it.
Be careful of store lighting.
Anything other than natural light will alter what you see. I often carry items to a store window to see their true colours.
Bring samples home before choosing materials.
The ideal place to select wall colours and to choose materials is in the space it will be installed, whenever possible. Lighting and surrounding elements will affect the results.
Be aware that your space is likely much smaller than the space you are shopping in.
This can make the pieces look much larger in your space than they seem in the store. Checking in with your ideal measurements will keep you on track.
Consider store suggestions.
Online room displays, catalogues and groupings on the retail floor can be helpful to give you a vision. Merchandising has gotten a lot smarter in recent years, displaying similar items together to help the shopper. In furniture, we see groupings already put together complete with rug and lamp suggestions. Some stores group their wares by colour, making it easy to pull a variety of coordinating items together. I never choose a grouping suggested by the store because I enjoy the process of pulling things together. But for you, this may save a great deal of time and stress.
Know return policies before you commit.
Hopefully these strategies will avoid the time-wasting trip for returns, however, make sure you know what is expected of you in order to make a return. Big ticket items may have a restocking fee or even be non-refundable.
Still feeling overwhelmed or averse to shopping?
Delegate the task to someone who enjoys it, or hire someone to help you. Even groceries can now be ordered online and delivered to your door. Free yourself from some of the stressors in your life and focus instead on that work-life balance.