I come from a family of black-belt bargain hunters. It's what we do for fun. We've dined on irregular sausage from the famous Usinger's in Milwaukee, worn imperfect underwear from the factory stores of Reading and served Sunday dinners on discounted Wedgwood from England. Wherever we go, we shop and whether we're in the market for ground chuck or Giorgio Armani, we look for discounts.
At family get-togethers, (over cheesecake seconds from the David Glass factory and cookies from the Pepperidge Farm outlet), we don't argue politics or reminisce about the good old days. Instead, we swap tales of our latest scores and deals.
Through my blog and my weekly column, Savvy Shopper, I tell you where the buys are. If there's a warehouse clearance or a going-out-of-business sale or an outlet hidden away somewhere, I look into it and let you know what they've got and whether it's worth the trip. I share ways to maximize your savings through coupon stacking, online coupon codes, Craig's List, Freecycle and other bargain sites. If there's a freebie or giveaway going on, I post it.
It takes a savings of 50 percent or more to make the earth move for me. (Any less is amateur status in the bargain hunting world.)
I don't think of myself as cheap,although my brother-in-law, who complains that he's never gotten a gift from me with an intact label or without the word ``irregular'' stamped on it, would disagree. For me, shopping is a competitive sport. By the time my purchases are bought and bagged, I'm sure I've brought home the best for less.
Sharing the thrills of shopping victories and the agonies of retail defeats with other big-sale hunters makes the experience even better. So e-mail me with your shopping questions or post your comments on my blog. Tell me about your greatest bargain finds and favorite places to shop. And remember the savvy shopper pledge -- wherever you shop and whatever you buy -- never, never, NEVER pay retail.
Are you a savvy shopper? Carry the bag that proves it. Send us information about your favorite bargain finds, special sales or local outlets. If we use your suggestion, we'll send you a Savvy Shopper tote bag. (Businesses: Send sale info at least two weeks in advance.) Send suggestions to: Korky Vann, The Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115