Thursday, March 28, 2013

Story I Promised

This is not actually the first time I have done comparison shopping. Try to contain your gasps of shock.

A couple of years ago, I was working with parents of young dancers, teaching them how to make their students look good for performances. I'd been doing Wednesday's makeup for years, and had a wee moment when she was three or four of worry that I was headed down the Jon Benet path. Then I saw the photographs and got right over it. Studio photography and stage lighting are not kind to skintones or, really, anything. It was my job to convince parents of performing dancers to put on makeup, and in many cases, to purchase makeup especially for the show. The dancers also needed a basket to hold their things, wipes for cleaning up, hair brushes, pins, and so on.

I had already discovered that many parents were completely daunted by the prospect, never having worn cosmetics themselves, or not wanting to sexualize their child-daughters (sons was a whole OTHER kettle of fish), or not knowing where to purchase supplies and so forth.

I've been a 'dance mom' since my son was five. This stuff is as natural as city parking to me. But I can't catch a cab to save my soul, so I tried to lead gently by example and instruction with physical examples and store receipts. I bought a 'kit' at Target, one at Rite Aid and one at Wal Mart. The kit was a laundry basket, wipes, hairpins, a brush, eye colors, eye liner, mascara, lip stain, blush, hair nets, elastics, cotton swabs, tissues, brushes and a puzzle or book of coloring or crosswords.

I don't remember the totals of these items precisely, but the total I expected was in the $25 to $40 area. I do remember the figures did NOT match my expectations at ALL. For one thing, I came in over $32 every place I shopped. I shopped at Target first (I like shopping at Target) and then at the Rite Aid (it may have been Walgreen's) and lastly at Wal-Mart. The drug store, I was surprised to note, came in a few (five, eight, something) dollars higher than Target. I thought the drug store would be cheaper. Surprise! I expected Wal-Mart's prices to be higher than Target's, because Wal-Mart hollers about how much cheaper they are than everyone, and if they really WERE that much cheaper, they wouldn't need to do all that hollering, in my opinion. Plus, they have things specially packaged in weird sizes so it's mind-bendingly difficult to compare prices on identical items. I figured Wal-Mart would be higher than my other totals by five or seven dollars, maybe. I actually was hoping to be surprised, that they'd be competitive, or lower, even. HAH! My Wal-Mart receipt was almost fifteen dollars more than the one I had from Target.

This is significant if you have to scrape for bus fare.

I thought people should know about this. I still visit Wal-Mart more frequently than I'm comfortable doing- curiously, their pharmacy rates are by far lower than any other in my neighborhood, but I have to remind myself to leave the shelves alone.

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