June 24, 2011

Sale Roundup and why I am sitting out this round

Second cuts have arrived and there are deals everywhere. I am showing restraint but that doesn't mean you have to...

Saks Fifth Avenue
has made second cuts.
Barneys is now up to 60% off.
Yoox clearance for Spring/Summer is now up to 50% off.
Net-A-Porter's sale is still going strong.
Neiman Marcus offers up to 55% off.

Sitting out these sales was an easy decision. Right now there is nothing I want more than a digital slr. I have the funds for one (I think). But I don't have the time to learn to use it. I don't even really have the time to research which kind to buy. I want one just enough to dwarf my other, more frivolous consumer desires. But not enough to make the leap. (I say to myself, "this dress is pretty but it would be 1/5th of the dslr budget." And I put it back.).

When it comes to buying small or large electronics, I am uncommonly timid. I definitely feel intimidated. How do I know if I am picking the "right one." Electronics presumably have more use value and practicality than repeat purchases of handbags or dresses. But for so many of us, it has become too easy to rationalize buying impractically ("I had a bad day." "I have an event and want a new outfit." "I am bored so I am going to shop aimlessly." etc.). I'm trying to think through my consumerism and in doing so I keep coming back to the realization that too often my reasons for wanting are silly and irrationally materialistic. Clothes, bags, and shoes are my "safe"shopping categories. I can shop for them and feel like an "expert." I don't get that panicky "is the customer service person going to inadvertently figure out that I have no clue about this stuff" feeling I get when I need to buy something technical or auto-related. This isn't to say that shopping for clothes, bags, or shoes is bad or inferior. In fact, I balk at the subtle sexism of writing off fashion as only frivolity (because I tend to balk at the writing-off of any domain or interest overwhelmingly dominated by women). Clothing, shoes, and bags have use value in moderation. Over the years I have not exercised moderation in my approach to consuming these categories.

When I am contemplating buying something that has immense potential to be useful, I get shopping anxiety. Cameras are laden with symbolism and meaning. The practice of looking, the gaze, the iconography of photographs, the ways we see (and don't see) due to framing... all those scholarly aspects of visualization bog me down with intellectual overwhelm when I contemplate buying a camera. This doesn't happen when I think about buying a dress. If I buy a camera, I am buying a thing has the potential to capture memories... This thing is in a technologized genre of stuff that feels alienating, complex, and more expensive than so many other material purchases. 60% off camera sales don't tend to happen (even within the resale/refurbished markets) so spontaneous, poorly-thought sale-goggle-induced purchases don't threaten to squash my timidity. If only I could be more unthinking when it comes to shopping for cameras... and more thinking when it comes to shopping for everything else!


Cynthia said...

I don't know what your DSLR budget is, but I have a Panasonic Digital Lumix that cost me about $400 and I love it.  Even though I take crappy inside pictures, it has excellent focusing capabilities and makes me look about as good as boring inside pictures are going to look. Plus it is easy to use and has all the things you might want like compensating for shake and such.

thatdamngreendress said...

I totally feel the same way about buying electronics- but I think a lot of my panic comes from the fear of spending my money on the wrong thing just before they all start incorporating some technological breakthrough!  That's when I feel blind or uninformed, and my usual research tool (google) gets so bogged down with spam and faux review pages when researching electronics!

I'm not currently craving many sale items...except one.  Your flirtation with the Violetta dress has inspired me to love it very, very intensely!!! I want, but I don't really know my KS sizing at all, and I'm not as expert at sale stalking such things!  Sighs...what resources are there beyond the KS site itself for her stuff?

embarrassmentofriches said...

Believe it or not, I was opposed to Shawn's planned purchase of a DSLR. I said we had two perfectly good point and shoot cameras, he'd never want to carry something so big around, we'd lose the essence of the moment if we were behind a lens trying to document it...

But I was so, so wrong. I'm so glad he bought it, and not just because it led him to a hobby he loves. Just because you're investing money in a gadget doesn't mean you have to invest a ton of time learning to use it - in fact, with a good DSLR (and maybe one good lens) you spend virtually no time getting beautiful pictures. Shawn gave me one quick tutorial and I'm pretty happy with the pictures I take!

Terri said...

I imagine I would like a better camera myself...but will undoubtedly need a new computer first.  I will do a bit of research first, but typically I wait and window shop for electronics until things have reached crisis proportions.  Then, I will typically buy the third thing I look at.

S S said...

Jess, a few years ago, I bought the cheapest Canon DSLR kit on the market for $420 (body and lens). It took 2 years of intensive daily learning and shooting before I outgrew it. I've always been happy with that purchase, because the truth is, if you're a beginner, the differences between prosumer cameras are really minimal. The choices you make should depend primarily on what you want to use the camera for. If you ever want to talk shop about what you're looking for and what you need, let me know!


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