Retail Therapy: Elizabeth Grinspan

August 5, 2010 by Lila Delilah

When it comes to shopping there are professionals and then there are those who are professionally obsessed. Yes, that would be us bloggers. For the remainder of the Summer we are turning the spotlight on our own and clawing our way into the shopping psychology of our favorite bloggers.

Elizabeth Grinspan is editor of Racked NY, which is a daily “must read” for every passionate shopper. The blog focuses on New York City shopping and retail news. Elizabeth has also written for Salon, the Village Voice and Time Out New York. Below are her shopping secrets and expert advice. What do you think?

What’s your most prized deal?
A vintage DVF dress I bought at Beacon’s Closet for $40. I love the dress, but the best part was finding it. You know how Babe Ruth is famous for being able to point to the exact place where he could hit the ball? I managed to do that with this dress: I walked in, announced to my friend that I was going to find a DVF wrap dress and that I wasn’t going to pay over $40 for it, and made it happen within half an hour. No idea how, but I’m still proud.

Biggest regret that you didn’t purchase?
In 2004, I went to Japan to visit a friend who was teaching English in a suburb of Tokyo. We were at a random flea market in his neighborhood one day when I came across a cropped yellow Chanel blazer going for the equivalent of about $70. It fit me perfectly, but I just had no idea whether it was actually Chanel, plus at the time I was totally intimidated by the shape and the color. Now I wish I’d just grabbed it; even if it wasn’t real, it looked good, and I finally feel like I could wear such a thing without looking ridiculous.

This season you are looking for…
Really classic black boots. Every fall I buy either cheapo trendy boots or vintage boots, and they always disintegrate by February. This time I’m finally going to do it right.

What’s your number one shopping tip?
Pick an upper limit for your spending on any one item. It doesn’t matter what the limit is — it can be $100 or $1000 — but promise yourself that you won’t spend more than that number. Here’s why this rule works: Because you’re going to break it. You might in fact break it quite often. But because the number now rings alarm bells for you, it forces you to put some thought into your more expensive purchases, which forces you to research them, which forces you to make better choices. It’s kind of the shopping equivalent of setting your clock fifteen minute fast; you know you’re lying to yourself, but it totally works, at least for me.

What’s your biggest weakness?
Shoes. I know that’s a cliche, but it’s just so easy to justify them, especially if you live in New York and walk everywhere.

Is there an item for which a shopper should never mind paying full price?
I spend all day immersed in sale news, so I tend to think there’s always some way around paying full price. Then again, I also wind up talking to a lot of boutique owners, and I sympathize with them — it’s so hard to run a small business in this city. So I’m not sure if I can answer the question by naming one specific item, but I do think that if you love an independent store in your neighborhood, you shouldn’t mind helping to keep them in business.


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