Shopping with Girl Ninja

July 6, 2011 · 24 comments

First off…thank you for proving me the better blogging half (big thanks to Bruce Bucks, I loved the dedication) by now having the most commented PDITF post of all time. Second…Happy Fourth of July… two days late. Third…now I can properly begin.

The other day, Ninja and I went to the greatest store on Earth, Nordstrom. As I shopped around, I was trying to conjure up some good arguments I could use to justify my upcoming purchases. It got me thinking…if I shop right, my money can get me more than just the item itself. I knew this was one argument Ninja couldn’t trump. Let me explain.

Example 1: Customer Service

I have had my eyes on a pair of shoes for a while, but haven’t seen them at any Seattle stores. Upon talking with the salesperson, within 4 minutes, I had a pair of the shoes I wanted in a different color to ensure I knew my size, as well as an IPad in hand to scan through my color options. It gets better. MY shoes, in MY size in MY color choice (which aren’t in any stores nearby) are being shipped right to my doorstep, free of any shipping charges. .

Nordstrom’s customer service is no joke. I love them.

Example 2: Quality

Everyone loves a sale, a good deal, or even a knock-off here or there.  BUT, I am a victim of Target fever.  Love their clothes when I try them on in the store, love their price, love the outfit….the first few times I wear it. Then, seasons change, and suddenly it’s color is a little more faded, a few threads are popping out, and the shape didn’t hold up in the wash.  It is now well on it’s way out of my closet, and I’m on my way back to the mall.  I have learned my lesson, spending more is not always a bad thing.

Example 3: Life span

WIn my car right now, I have 5 pairs of sunglasses.  Not all are wearable, and most have scratches, are stretched, or are even broken.  I’ve always been an advocate of $10 sunglasses as they typically break right when I’m getting bored with them, leaving me with a great reason to buy a new pair.  BUT, my plan was not as awesome as I thought.  It’s not easy to always find sunglasses I love. Enter, Ninja.  On our San Fran trip, he convinced me to pay more (surprising, right?!), to get more.  I bit the bullet and bought expensive sunglasses that I LOVE.

I keep them safe in a case, I wear them ALL the time, and I have no doubt these will have a longer life span than any other $10 pair I’ve bought before.  No more “throw away” glasses for this girl.

Example 4: Give Back

There are some awesome companies out there that sell items that give back.  For every pair of TOMS shoes sold, a pair of new shoes is given to a child in need.  When Ninja bought me a Krochet Kids beanie (he’s preparing me for a transition from SD winter to Seattle winter), his money went to support a company that empowers African women to become small business owners and change their community.  I love to give, and how cool is it that there are ways to give with cash I would have spent anyways?!?!

Sometimes, Ninja’s frugality gets the best of him (and me too), but hopefully this post will serve as a reminder that value trumps price.  What do you spend more on? Do you know any awesome companies that give back with their proceeds? What are your feelings about stores that sell cheap things (price and quality) AKA Forever 21?

1 No Debt MBA

I definitely found that high quality sunglasses last me a lot longer than cheap $5 or $10 pairs. I had a Nautica pair that lasted me three years. In the last year since they finally, truly broke (I’ll admit to using blue tape to keep an ear piece on) I’ve gone through three cheap pairs. The best part is that the Nautica pair only cost me $20 since I bought them in January. Hopefully I’ll find another deal like that soon.

2 Lysander

Value when you purchase anything in key, you want to maximize the value. Roughly speaking: Value=Quality/Price where quality includes the lifespan, utility, and the enjoyment derived from having that item and price includes both the actual cost of the item and the effort required in acquiring the item.

All of my experiences with Nordstrom have been excellent. I know that I am going to pay more for anything that I buy, but I will get the right item for me and they will back that purchase up in case of any problems (which is more than can be said of most retailers)

3 Momninja

I upgraded to quality sun glasses a year ago after dadninja said just do it. Well I still have them because I do take better care of them – it seems to work out!

Glad you got your shoes and got to use the ipad at the same time to show you did your due diligence.

I love Tom Bihn travel bags, they cost more but are amazing and support a Seattle company.


I have also learned my lessons with the cost vs value, and am still learning. I still can’t get over the T fever because there are some quality stuff with Target, but it’s usually hit or miss. I do say the Norstrom’s service and RETURN POLICY is awesome, but I feel guilty forking over the money. My solution is to look for quality brands at discount stores, or discountinue/clearance sale(I love my Kate Spade and Coach bags I got on clearance at the end of the season).

5 MW

I try to adhere to this when it comes to clothes shopping. And I’m starting to really be able to tell the difference between a $5 T-shirt from Walmart and a $20 T-shirt from somewhere else. In the beginning, they’re the same, but six months later? The $5 is probably totally misshaped and unwearable.

One exception, though, is that I always cheap out on things that I need to get for cheap, or that I’m not expecting to last. Like, for instance, cocktail dresses. I don’t go to a lot of cocktail parties, maybe a few a year, but they ALL seem to happen in the summer, so I can’t exactly get away with wearing the same dress to five functions in the same month, right? OK, Ninja might say I could, but whatever. In those cases, I’m ALL about finding a $30 dress at H&M or on the clearance rack at Urban Outfitters, because I’m not likely to wear it more than a few times anyway.

My all-time favourite sunglasses cost me $3 at a garage sale six years ago. I LOVE them. I even gave a couple pairs of $10 sunglasses that I like less, and wear on outings when I know I’ll be moving around a lot, lest I lose or break my $3 pair.

6 slug |

I paid $65 for my sunglasses in 2000. I still have the same glasses and same case…and same vehicle. I guess that probably says it all.

7 pdent

Those are some pretty saucy peeptoe wedges GN 😉

8 Trina

I agree with ‘you get what you pay’ for and customer service is definitely worth paying for. I am just recently begining to pay more for nicer things and (oddly enough) I’ve had some issues with those items (one was a bag, the other was a pair of shoes for my daughter). Within days the Merin bag ( was mended and shipping paid for. The See Kai Run shoes ( were replaced in less than a week. Both local WA businesses too:) Now, I have to admit I did wait for both of the items to go on sale before purchasing in the first place. A good deal is a good deal.
I’ve had my eye on a pair of Tom’s lately too, but been a bit gun shy about the $50 tag. Love the buy one give one philosophy though.

9 Mel

I’m a big fan of paying for more quality, when it calls for it. I bought a pair of Oakleys and wore those bad boys for 6 years before my darling son snapped them in half. But totally worth the purchase cost, and I’m currently shopping around for some new ones.

I have found that buying quality clothing will make a difference in the end. Any shirts I buy at Wal-mart end up fading after only 4or5 washes, and generally lose their shape very quickly. Any blouses that I buy for work that are cheap will only last me one season AT MOST. and I’m all about making things last more than one season!!! I still get complimented on a great pair of strappy sandals that cost a pretty penny, but I bought them when I first started at my current job six years ago!

10 Kaman

Sunglasses. Ditto. I’ve tried the $25 pairs and I still end up squinting… a little light sensitive, what can I say? I’ve had a nice pair of comfortable, lightweight, flexible (I have a kid!), polarized Ray Bans for over a year now and I’m never, ever going back.

Knives. And this doesn’t solely apply to the kitchen knives. :) My cook’s knife rings in at as much as my sunglasses, with good reason.

Just about anything else. In reality, I do my research where I can before I make a purchase (I depend on reviews, coupled with salesperson opinion and I’ve never been disappointed). It’s important for me to do this because I can be a little demanding on my belongings and they have to be able to put up with the ‘abuse’ or I will have just wasted my money.

11 Clare - Never Niche

All excellent points. I don’t want to love Forever 21. But I do. :(

12 Tristan

Yup, I agree 100%. I don’t buy new things very often, but when I do, I buy the best I can afford. Hence the $80 shorts I bought last week and the $100 sunglasses from last year.

Often, the expensive stuff 1) works better, 2) feels better, 3) and lasts longer. Totally worth it.

13 Krantcents

Nordstrom is my favorite store! Service is outstanding and the products are the best. You can find a variety of pricing, although skewed to their quality. heir return policy is the absolute best.

14 Sara

I totally agree about paying more when it makes sense to, and I even combine all that with awesome coupons or sites like Ebates that give you cash back. But sometimes the cheap route is the best, such as the perfect little sun dress for that beach wedding, or even cheap sunglasses for people who are incapable of not losing them. My main goal is to pay for the quality I’m expecting, and never pay full price. Pretty successful so far!

P.S. I am so drooling over a pair of those TOMS wedges, and I didn’t know they come in that color/pattern! Love em!

15 gyps808

Girl Ninja, when you’re ready, hit up the goodwill in Bellevue. Someone on that side of the lake donates (at least when I lived there a couple of years ago) $700 pairs of shoes that aren’t worn because they were samples. Not only are you getting a great deal (Kate spade shoes for $30!) but it’s goodwill! They do great stuff for the community!

16 Mary M

One of my favorite “pay for quality” items is my BOSE earbuds for my phone. It took me breaking the ones that came with the phone plus a few rounds of $10 target earbuds to make the splurge. They sound great, I hear subleties in my music I’ve never heard before and they came with a 1 year manufacturer warranty. I got these 10 months ago and they are still great. Any amount of time longer than 12 months will be my break even point.
And ditto on the sunglasses.

17 Dreemboat

Nordstrom is one of my favorite stores. I buy all of my jeans there and use the tailor on site to get a freat fit.

Their Penguin Brand and RVCA tees are great, as well as their spring summer clothes. The shoe department in one of the best around in terms of style, quality, price, and service.

Get Ninja a suit from there…

18 Mo D.

The one time we splurged on a FABULOUS pair of Serengeti sunglasses, I was really careful with them for over a year… and then I lost them on a business trip to Budapest… I was heartbroken… and I HATED having to include my tell him what happened when I called Hubby, because they were a Christmas gift… now that I’ve been sporting various $14.99 sunglasses for the past few years, I’m ready to get another pair of Serengetis… I LOVE ’em!!

The new place looks amazing! The kitchen’s awesome… I’m green with envy! I’m not a big fan of leasing, but I haven’t had much experience with the exception with leasing a car… which we’ll never do again… keep us posted on your move!

19 leahjuly

totally sunglasses!! I was all about buying cheap pairs because I’d break them all the time. I play beach or grass volleyball as much as possible in the summers so last year I decided to invest in some really nice Smith sport sunglasses and will never go back! They are super light weight, fit perfectly around my eyes (no sun peaking around the edges of the lens) and the lenses are removable so when I do break one its much cheaper to replace. They also came with 3 sets of lenses for different uses, although I only use the polarized one. Once you go polarized, anything else just isn’t worth it, no matter how cheap.

I also think cheap stores like H&M, Forever 21 and Target are good places to pick up really trendy items that from a style perspective you may not want to wear next season. Not entire outfits but something to change up or refresh the standard quality pieces.

20 Austin

Nordstrom is my favorite place. And you hit all of the highlights of why it is. Ever since getting more… financially conscious though, I’ve done better shopping Nordstrom on their big sale weekends. But their quality is tough to beat!

21 This Guy

I take partial responsibility for this purchase Ninja. I apologize.

I believe in quality as well. I will take Nike over Champion, Gap over Old Navy, and Oakleys over Mossimo any day. The higher the quality, the higher the cost. Howeva… that typically results in a longer shelf life. I’m with Girl Ninja.

Now I need a frosty.

22 Matt

I am a total supporter of Value and Quality or quantity. Whenever my wife brings home a so so shirt from Target. I tell her to take it back and get something that you will love versus something that is just okay.

23 fromshoppingtosaving

Great post and now I’m off to check out those Tom’s shoes! Love Nordies too!!

Would love to see a post on your handbags, do you prefer quality and designer bags over others? Thanks :)

24 christianmarie

Most sunglasses are made by the same manufacturer and simply stamped with different logos. If you think your designer sunglasses last longer, it’s probably because you take better care of them knowing how much money you spent on them. Plastic is plastic, people.

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