Rita Howell’s column 8-3-12

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 3, 2012

Easy to say ‘yes’ to marked-down clearance dress

Not sure if it’s a trend set in motion by the economic downturn, but I have noticed that bragging rights once reserved for high-priced acquisitions are now the privilege of penny-pinchers.

Where once someone might have flaunted her $2,000 Louis Vuitton bag, now you’re more likely to find a lady broadcasting her good fortune in securing an LV purse for $22.99 in the 75-percent-off/red dot/end-of-season/last chance/final /we-really-mean-it bargain bin.

Cheap is the new chic.

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Now, I wasn’t necessarily looking for cheap in recent weeks as I searched for a proper dress to wear to my niece’s wedding. I just wanted a simple, solid colored dress that fit and wouldn’t clash with the attire of others in the family portrait.

Who knew it would be so hard?

Two shopping trips and three department stores failed to yield said garment.

A disabled Internet connection at home forced me to steal productive work time to search online for “the dress.”

Still nothing.

Time was running out.

Was I being too particular, I wondered?

I found lots of pretty ones, with lots of colorful print fabrics. But I did not want to look like I was wearing a stained glass window designed by Picasso.

That’s exactly where I was headed, had it not been for my personal shopping consultant, my sister, Betty Gail.

We revisited a store where I had already scouted out options, tried them on, and rejected all.

We’d been at the sale rack less then three minutes when she pulled out one and said, “what about this one?”

(She’s good.)

It was a soft teal green sleeveless sheath. It was just what I had been looking for. It fit. It was perfect.

How could I have overlooked it the first time?

I don’t think I even looked at the price tag. I just took it to the cashier.

“That’ll be $13.46,” she said.


Now for the flip side, when something free ends up costing me money.

On the first day of this year’s Square Market, the Batesville Garden Club offered free begonia plants at their booth. I was there for the opening bell, so I had my choice of an abundant collection grown by club member Carol Bullard. I chose one with polka dots on the leaves and delicate pink blooms. They set it aside for me as I continued to shop. I collected the plant on my way out.

The next day club member Rhonda Amis came by The Panolian with another begonia plant, “beefsteak,” a variety with big round green leaves with a red tint on the back.

“You forgot your plant,” she said.

“No, I got it,” I confessed.

“Well, just take this one, too,” she said.

How fortunate. I now possessed two healthy begonia plants.

However, they were in need of transplantation into larger quarters.

My philosophy of horticulture has always been “use cheap pots.” Plastic fake terracotta.

But those two beauties deserved more charming digs, especially since they would be moving indoors this winter.

So I found two reasonably priced ceramic pots, a green one and a purple one.

But I underestimated the size I needed.

Those poor plants were squeezed into shiny new pots no larger than the ones Carol had put them in to start with.

I was committed to those begonias. This would never do.

So I shopped for bigger pots.

I am pleased to report that my green friends are now comfortable in new ceramic pots, a red one and a white one, that allowed them to stretch out their roots and grow.

I am sad to report that I spent $36 to accommodate two free plants.

But they look great on my front porch.