Friday, February 8, 2008

On sale but doesn't fit ain't worth it

I like bargain hunting as much as the next shopper, especially when it comes to clothes. I follow the brands, the trends, and the seasons in which goods are likely to be marked down.

Well, in Houston, it was a most auspicious occasion to find out about Orvis' big weekend sale Feb. 8-10 at Reliant Center. Up to 70 percent off? I'm in. Let's go. I get there a little after the sale opened at 9am.

The one thing that I was hoping would pop up in this sale is a Barbour wax cotton jacket. Sure enough, there were several on the rack. These retail for about $400; they were on sale for $99. And they were going fast. Other shoppers knew this was a good deal.

Found a Beaufort model that seemed to be in my size, but I couldn't tell from the tag. So I try it on. It fits, but the sleeves came up at least an inch short. But jeez, it's 75 percent off, I calculate roughly.

So I hold on to it as I go through the rest of the items in the large Reliant Center room: Shoes and boots, outerwear, fishing and hunting gear, linens, luggage and more.

I'm still not sure about whether to pull the trigger on purchasing this jacket. All sales are final here, and I don't want to leave the sale with regrets about buying a coat whose sleeves are too short. I ask store personnel, and other shoppers, men and women, how the jacket looks. The resonant answer was the sleeves were short on me.

I knew this as well, so I head back to the rack where I first picked it up. One of the shoppers I had struck up a conversation with while initially trying on the Barbour jackets said to me that if I didn't want it, to let him know so he could take a look at it. I didn't pay him that much mind until I saw him and his wife at the Barbour rack about an hour later.

So I tried it on again. The sleeves were still short on me. Then, I insisted that he try it on. The jacket fit him better, though he expressed reluctance about taking a jacket that I had considered buying and wanted me to take it if I wanted it.

By this time, I was more confident about having $99 still in my pocket than to have spent the money for the sake of an otherwise great deal for a Barbour jacket. Plus, from a utilitarian standpoint, I got more satisfaction out of someone else benefiting from the sale. I told the man to enjoy the jacket and wished him and his wife farewell.

I walked out of Reliant Center empty-handed, but with no regrets. Better luck next year, perhaps.

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