The holiday season brings out the shopping warrior in us all. Grown-ups eager to find a deal, don their comfiest shoes gearing up for a weekend of “super-savings.” Not everyone takes the predawn super-sized coffee route. Some prefer shopping from the comfort of their couch clicking on the multitude of offers that have arrived in their Inboxes, promising Black Friday deals unlike anything ever seen before.
No matter how you choose to pursue a great deal, there’s a good chance you’ve done price comparison at some point in your life. The desire to win a deal doesn’t seem to be defined by income or culture. Century 21 in New York City is known for providing “deals” on luxury brands. Digital sellers like Groupon and ClassPass pride themselves on delivering savings year-round with the click of a button. Even the local grocery store offers sales which are sometimes paired with coupons to deliver an even bigger savings. The need to make a deal isn’t new, but long before we think of how much we can save, we must address the question, “How much is it?”
“Asking, “How much is it?” without even knowing what’s being offered is like asking “Are you going to marry me?” when someone invites you out for a drink. Patience Grasshopper.”
As a cost-conscious consumer, I usually prefer to skip the pre-sale getting to know you stuff and just go for the price. Of course, when I’m price hunting that’s usually after I’ve already either a) done some research or b) set a budget for myself. I love a good deal also. Though a recent experiment in purchasing bread provided a strong reminder that the price isn’t always right when it comes to saving some dough.
“If you want to really save some dough, then be sure to look at the ingredients.”
My clients are great. I remember bringing “healthy” rice crispy treats as a reward for my younger students and having an 8 year decline because it was still junk food. When I was 8, I would have eaten anything that hinted at being desert. I love when my students teach me things or remind me of the little things. My bread experiment was born out of my search for a plastic free water bottle for students. I failed at finding a reusable bottle that wasn’t made of metal, but I became determined to further reduce the plastic in my own home. Bread has been a huge part of my diet– just changing a simple food purchase to a plastic free purchase would make a huge impact in my waste reduction.
In order to reduce the amount of plastic in my home, I decided to stop buying things like sliced bread. Knowing what I wanted (good bread that didn’t come in a plastic bag), I did some research.
Sliced Bread in a plastic bag.
Any Grocery Store
Unsliced Fresh Loaf, normally $8, 50% off after 5pm
Unsliced Fresh Loaf, 1 Giant loaf equals 2 loaves
Unsliced Fresh Loaf
Unsliced Fresh Loaf
Unsliced ½ a Fresh Loaf
After having done my research I was able to address my budget. I decided to skip the $10 half loaf since it was 3 more than 3 times what I usually spend. As someone who eats a lot of bread, even if the bread was made with water from the fountain of youth it just seemed pricey.
The next step was to try some bread. No I did not seek out those little cube samples that some store provide. I invested in the product. I no longer give free trial classes or sample classes for the same reason I spent a month trying different breads. If I was serious about making the switch to plastic free bread then I would need to get the full experience.
Finding the Right Fit
I gave up on the $4 loaves from the polish bakery, the bread was nice, but the cashiers would get annoyed when I asked them not to put the bread in plastic bags. My criteria had now moved from, “find plastic free bread” to “find plastic free bread was less than $10 per half loaf and would include a good customer service experience.” The bakery has been in the neighborhood for decades and I really wanted to support it, but I moved on.
Next, I tried supporting my local farmers market (a plastic nightmare that’s considered trendy in New York City). After 3 separate attempts to purchase $7 loaves– customer service again became the defining factor. The vendors were too busy chatting and hanging out, to be bothered to take my order. If you walk into a restaurant that has a sign saying “credit cards accepted”, seat yourself, find a menu from another table, and flag down a server, order, and then they tell you the card machine is broken well that’s a lot of hurdles to jump through for a meal. Waiting until I have my card out to say, “Oh I don’t think the card machine is working. Hey, is the card machine working?” Was pretty sloppy stuff. These guys were well into the middle of the day and use a small attachment to a smartphone to swipe. Unless your colleague ran out to buy a new one and you didn’t notice, this was information I should have been given up front. Also, he could have keyed in the card. Point being my willingness to double my usual bread allowance was not enough to make me put up with poor customer service again.
The next vendor at the farmers market was nice. The 50% off bread was big, and it was only about a $1 more that what I spent on Grocery store bread. Sadly, it was also tasteless. I tried many varieties and finally gave up. New criteria, “if I’m going to invest in it, I should like it.”
So how much is the winning bread? For 7.50 a loaf at the Swedish Bakery I get fresh bread in a paper bag, the taste is great, I can request to have it sliced, and the service is great. Considering the convenience and quality I’m paying for I consider $7.50 to be a great deal. Is it more than double what I used to pay? Yes. But because of the great flavor and texture I eat less of it than I did of my old bread. Plus I get really excited to have a slice a bread now.
When visitors to my website, contact me asking “how much is it?” I always ask myself where that person might be in their research phase. The dollar cost of classes is publicly displayed on the website, but the ingredients of what’s included in that price goes far beyond learning to dance.
This holiday season before you purchase another “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” (um, what’s up with these deals lasting a full week now) think about the value it will bring to your life. Will you be excited to use those 15 Groupon classes or wear those new boots? Will you end up in a crowded class where you aren’t learning much? Will you end up with a teacher who you don’t vibe with and end up ditching the remaining classes? Perhaps, those new boots will just make it through the winter but need to be replaced next year.
I put a lot of quality ingredients in my classes for those who make quality a priority. For folks who need big name status or super cheap deals, there are plenty of other studios out there for them.
Want to check out my “ingredients”? Click here.
“If you want to really save some dough, then be sure to look at the ingredients. The price isn’t always right.”
Finding a Great Deal in New York City.
When I created Choreography by Rae, I created it with you in mind. Assuming you’re someone who loves a good deal and values quality. You won’t find my classes on Groupon and I rarely have sales. Why? Well, the classes are designed to provide quality and convenience. When I drop prices too low, then usually the quality is the first thing to be affected. I know a lot of studios that charge more than me and a lot of dance instructors that charge much less. When I buy a super cheap deal that’s convenient, I know the quality might be reduced. For me that often means attending someone’s overcrowded classroom (hence I learn less) or a teacher I don’t vibe with. By choosing not to offer you $2.99 bread like so many others or $10 half loaves and boasting my credentials I’m able to offer quality service that is designed help you take the next step in your journey.