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The Point of No Returns


My family would say I am an efficiency expert and I am not convinced that is a compliment. When I shop my goal is to buy with confidence and minimize returns, especially if the store is not on my regular errand route.

Here's the scenario.... You go to Staples to pick up some printer ink. Bed, Bath & Beyond is right next door and you remember you melted your spatula on the cooktop the other day. It will be a quick in and out. It is so quick that you decide to take a lap around the store on your way to the register. You see the perfect large canvas art for your mantle. Maybe. Is it too small? Not sure it's the right green. You'll think about it. Next you see some throw pillows for the family room. Sparky chewed the corners of the ones you have when he was a puppy. You get 2 of them. Now if you only had a cart. Remember you came in for a spatula that easily fits in your hand. You can manage two pillows and a spatula. On to the register! Ah, you remember the bathroom needs a new cellular shade. What size is that window again? You guess 28". Now you are looking for a cart and find one that has been abandoned and dump it all in. Right at the register are tablecloths. You are hosting your family for the holiday and need one without candle wax and tomato sauce stains. On the back of the package it is says 70" fits 6-8 people. Done! You realize you don't have any of those 20% off coupons with you but you know you have a stack of them in the basket on the counter. You pay and decide you will come back another day with your coupons to get a price adjustment. Out to the car. At home you excitedly bring in your purchases.

  • The spatula works. You got purple just for fun.

  • The pillows for the sofa are just OK.

  • The window in the bathroom is not 28", but 31".

  • The table is longer than you thought. Need the 90" size and the color is wrong.

  • You keep thinking about the canvas art for the mantle. You'll buy it when you go back to return the other things.

  • All returns go in the hall so you don't forget.

  • After a few days of stepping over them in the hall you move them into the trunk of your car.

Two weeks later you remember to go back to BB&B.

  • They have the cellular shade in 31". Hit the easy button.

  • You end up getting a plain white 90" tablecloth because it is safe.

  • You find pillows you like better but already napped and drooled on the OK ones. Forget it.

  • Now off to get that great canvas art...that is now gone :(

  • You forgot the 20% off coupons, again!

Here are a few tricks to help you reach the point of no returns.

1. Identify Your Colors

Carry a color chip of all of the paint colors in the house in a ziploc bag in your purse. Mark each color chip with the corresponding room written on the back. Also match paint chips to represent the accent colors to create a palette. This eliminates questioning if the colors are right.

2. Take Notes

We all have smart phones so we should use them to help us shop smart, too. Keep a list on your phone with dimension of things you are looking for like area rug size to replace the old one in the foyer, the dimensions of the empty wall space above your mantle (read my blog post Please Don't Hang Up), the size of your dining table with and without the leaf, sizes of photos that need frames, the length/height/depth of the empty shelf you need something for. You get the idea.

3. Measure Twice, Cut Once

Carry a small tape measure in your purse so that you can make sure what you are looking at matches your notes.

4. Can't Decide? Buy Both

If you can't decide which one you like more, buy both knowing that you can return one. That kind of return doesn't bother me. I think of that as design options.

When you work with Go Room By Room for redesign or color consultation you will have a color palette to carry in your purse, a furniture placement plan for your space and décor guidance. You will be equipped to shop with confidence whether you are looking for something specific or just happen upon the perfect thing when you least expect it.

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Jill Sykes

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