As all dedicated consumer e-stalkers know, the hunt is usually no small task. So it helps to keep one's "wants" to a minimum. During certain moments in the retail seasons (i.e. post-holidays, transitioning seasonal merchandise, final calls, third cuts, 80% off, etc.) my "wants" seem to grow exponentially, thanks to the delusional power of sale goggles. But in general, it is wise try to keep your list reasonable. That way you don't devote the equivalent of a part time job to e-stalking.
Spotting something I hope to someday acquire generally marks the beginning of a long, arduous, often research-intensive process. Whether the source came from something seen in a brick and mortar store or boutique, on a person's person, in a photograph from a street style website, or in an ecommerce shop, it helps to approach the potential acquisition with practicality and patience. Is the item priced appropriately? Does it serve a purpose or fill a hole in my material life? Will it be too similar to or too outlandish from my preexisting collection of stuff to be useful? How rare is this and is it possible that it will sell out at retail price? Is the retail price a good value or is it worth waiting for a discount? Can I/How can I find it for less?
It isn't formulaic, per se but it can seem procedural and if it isn't worth your time then the item isn't worthy of e-stalk status in the first place. There is a methodical approach to e-stalking that I implement with varying degrees of rigor. Determining the time devoted to the research is simple. The more expensive something costs, and the closer it is to its suggested retail price, (generally speaking) the more time I will spend researching and being patient. The more mad money I have available, the easier it is to indulge my wants. Consuming is often contextual and subjective, so a myriad of variables will influence my personal e-stalking patterns and behaviors. One such variable to consider is consumer loyalty.
(Estalked and acquired Tibi dress from Net-a-Porter who offer impeccable service)
(Coviello dress from Anthropologie via Ebay for far less than Anthro's price)
Although I am not generally a proponent of consumption as democracy (i.e. "vote with your dollar") I do believe that it is important to be an informed and when appropriate, loyal customer. This recession will be a chance to practice consumer Darwinism. More than in the years prior, deciding where to spend your precious dollars could influence the fate of your favorite stores. Which shops deserve your patronage and which are not worth saving? Which boutiques, etailers, or department stores have offered you the highest level of service versus those that have utilized these troubled times as rationale to overhaul once-favorable return policies, free shipping, price-matching/protection, or other promotions that benefited shoppers?
Over the last few weeks I've received the most attentive, helpful, and appreciative service at Saks so they have won me as a customer for life. The free lattes, champagne, biscotti, and Godiva chocolates were just icing because this most recent sale enabled me to finally choose sales associates to patronize exclusively in handbags, shoes, intimates, mens, and women's contemporary. And although I will still use a shopping rubric that involves research, patience, and loathsome feelings toward paying retail prices, I will weigh among the variables, the fact that I wish for my favorite local stores to thrive or at the very least survive this period of economic downturn.