Bargain Bob shops for the functionally fine and gently used

Written by Bob on December 16th, 2010

Bargain Bob’s functionally fine and gently used footwear.

YUCAIPA, CA – About 20 years ago I paid $279.99 for an Ektelon racquetball racquet. And least you think I traveled the pro circuit and needed such a finely strung instrument let me assure you, I didn’t impress many with my play.

Back then I bought nothing but the best – regardless of the cost. Now I regret my squandering ways. That fancy racquet improved my game not one single point over what a $39.99 racquet would have done.

There was a time when I flashed my credit card and eagerly opened my wallet gobbling up new stuff like a ravenous pig slopping at the feed trough. New clothes, new shop tools, new (expensive) basketball, racquetball, dress, and running shoes, new Nikon cameras and lenses – I spent thousands. Let me rephrase. I wasted thousands.

I was a free spender, who bought what I wanted, because frankly, I made good money. But alas, the money train has since slowed, and as a result, so has my voracious spending.

Today I’m a scavenger, a bargain hunter always on the prowl for a good deal. I seldom buy new. There’s just too much of the functionally fine and gently used of anything the heart desires that can be had at a bargain.

Here’s an example. My old clothes dryer quit working last week. I thought about buying new. I even got on line and shopped at Sears and Lowe’s. But with prices ranging from about $400 to $1,200 I said no way. So I shopped Craigslist and found a Whirlpool less than two years old for a hundred bucks. The owner wanted one fifty, I countered and we were both happy.

The dryer works fine and passed the quality controller’s inspection – my wife. And I figure I saved at least $300 to $400. That “pat, pat” you’re hearing is me thumping myself on the back for being such a wise and prudent shopper.

Last week, my wife and I took our grandson Cameron Christmas shopping for clothes, shoes, and computer games. I suggested we visit the local thrift stores first, but both my wife and Cam shot my idea down with a frown and scornful comments. And might I add, very hurtful.

“Grandpa, you’re cheap,” said Cameron.

But really, I’ve found great bargains at the local Set Free and Deseret thrift stores. Recently, I needed work boots and found a pair of Alpine, waterproof, boots at a $3.50 bargain at Set Free. I needed new running shoes and Deseret had just my size, a pair of LA Gear’s for four bucks. And both pair are like new. I have no shame in lacing them up.

Gloating over my great deals on these still functionally fine and gently used footwear, I priced them on the Internet. The LA Gear’s listed at $80.75, and when I saw the price for the Alpine’s, my heart almost seized up from sticker shock. $269 bucks!

I was ecstatic. Yippee! Bargain Bob had saved about $370 on functionally fine footwear that any man would be proud to wear.

I know, what you’re thinking. Bargain Bob should be buying new stuff during the holiday season; doing his part in helping revive our stagnant economy. Like many of you, I’m supposed to be rushing helter-skelter from one big box store to another shelling out big bucks for more and more new “stuff.”

After all, the U.S. economy is based upon (glutinous) consumer spending.

In fact, President Obama met yesterday with some of the captains of big industry. They hashed over ideas on how to revive the economy. And of course that centers on getting Americans to spend.

Spend big this holiday season consumers. Get out those credit cards and shop, shop, shop! That’s most likely what Mr. Obama and the captains’ message was.

If Mr. Obama and his big biz cronies heard me espousing the rewards of switching from big spender to frugal shopper of all that is functionally fine and gently used, I’m sure they wouldn’t be very happy with me.

“Bargain Bob, we can not have you broadcasting to Americans about your great bargain basement buys,” Mr. Obama might say.

And from the Captains of Industry: “Mr. President, if Americans follow Bargain Bob’s lead, our big box stores are going to be in big trouble…do something about Bargain Bob, Mr. President! We implore you!”

“Psst, psst, Mr. President, I know how you can help balance the budget and spur the economy (and maybe have a slim chance of getting reelected).”

“How, Bargain Bob?”

“Convert all those spendthrift Congressmen from their wasteful ways and costly “new” programs into doing what is just functionally fine for most Americans, Mr. President.”

“Bargain Bob, I think you’re on to something functionally fine.”

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