Shop less often, but more at a time
People usually shop for grocery once every week (much less often
than in China). Plan accordingly.
Use a shopping cart or basket
People usually take a shopping cart when entering the store, put
stuff in the cart, check out all the items at once, and use the
shopping cart to carry what they have bought to the car. If you
don't have a car, you should try to ride with someone (a friend,
housemate, etc.) for each shopping trip.
Look for bargains, but read carefully
Stores often have sales. The sale price can be 50% or more cheaper
than the regular price. But you need to read the price label carefully,
to make sure you are buying what you think you are. Check the brand
name and the description on the price label. Pay special attention
to the small prints on the price label.
Most stores have express checkout lanes, for people with fewer
items (e.g. 10 items or less). Pay attention to this. If you meet
the criteria, go for it, because it usually saves you time. Otherwise,
stay away from it. You may get a dirty look if you try to check
out 30 items at an express lane.
Take advantage of the good customer service
Most stores respect and serve their customers very well. At check-out,
pay attention to the price of each item. If you realize that the
item more expensive than you thought, check with the cashier to
see if she has made a mistake. If not, just say "I'm sorry,
but I don't want this any more." For items other than food,
keep the receipt for at least the warranty period. Usually you can
return items within 30 days (some store have even more generous
returns policy on certain items). Be aware that certain items (such
as computers, camcorders) have significant re-stocking charges even
if you return on the same day of your purchase. Many stores have
low price guarantee. This means that after the purchase, if you
found a lower price for the same item elsewhere (other than clubs
or Internet stores), the store would refund you the difference (sometimes
even more than that).
Usually you pay state sales tax on items you buy, unless the store
is in a state without a sales tax (such as Delaware). If you order
from a store in a different state, you don't pay sales tax. This
applies to on-line shopping too, in which case you probable need
to pay for shipping and handling charges.
Shop for Used
You can buy used stuff in any of the following sales:
Moving sale - this happens when someone is moving out of
the area. The good part is that the seller definitely needs to sell.
Things can be very cheap. But you need to act quickly to get really
good deals. Some people even give stuff away for free, or simply
throw them away as trash.
Yard sale - also called garage sale. This often happens
at people's yard or outside their garage. It can be just one family,
several families, or a whole community. People want to get rid of
some of the stuff they no longer need, and at the same time get
a portion of its original value back.
Rummage sale - this is usually held by a church, where members
donate their stuff, and the income from the sale will all go to
the church. Things can be very cheap.
Find your local Asian grocery stores ...
- Items in a store are organized along rows of shelved. The space
between two consecutive shelves is called an aisle (pronounced
[ai-l]). They are marked by numbers (1, 2, 3 ...) or letters (A,
B, C ...).
- Coupon (pronounced [`ku:pang])
- A coupon is a paper slip showing how much you can save for a
particular purchase, usually with a bar code. At check-out, you
give the coupon to the cashier, who then deduct the coupon amount
from your total bill. Read the coupon carefully: brand, quantity,
purchase date, etc. You may get coupons in the mail, in the newspaper
(especially on Sundays), or even in the weekly ad available at
the store entrance.
- Rain check
- If a store has something on sale, but it is out of stock when
you tried to purchase it, they may issue you a rain check, which
grants you the privilege of buying that item at the same sale
price within a certain period of time.