From Where I Sit – Nerves, Wit & Serendipity

Depending on the destination, there are world-class museums and attractions to captivate the tourist. If you seek out a tourist information centre you’ll find lure cards, pamphlets, and coupons all vying for your attention and dollars.

It will likely also list all the free activities. In the case of Palm Springs with its year-round hot rain-free days there are half a dozen street fairs to choose from. Every weekend there’s the one at the College of the Desert grounds with over 140 exhibitors. On Thursday nights the downtown area is blocked off for a street fair that boasts entertainment, food vendors and artisans. The adjacent businesses stay open to capture their share of the pedestrian traffic and disposable income.

Another good source of info about arts and culture activities and shopping are the glossy guides that fill racks in the entrances of restaurants with ads in said guides. That’s where you find out that the antique car show was held last weekend or that the has-been LA entertainer is coming in February long after You’re back home.

But, one of the bigger thrills associated with travel is the outlet shopping experience. Just twenty minutes from Palm Springs is the Desert Hills Premium Outlet Mall at Cabazon. With over 140 stores (and another forty-five currently under construction) it is a shopper’s paradise. A coupon book available at the information office is free if you bring the voucher you receive when you join the online VIP Club or show your AMA (or other) membership card. Failing that, a small fee will put one in your hot little hands. If you are a strategic shopper in the know, there are also additional and different online deals with printable coupons. If You’re over the age of fifty, Tuesday will be your favourite day of the week because many merchants take an additional ten percent off your sales total.

If you play your cards right you can get a clearance item with an additional percentage off and still use a coupon or get the seniors? discount. Hell, they practically pay you to take it.

As attractive as this all appears at first blush one must hang onto her head. When we were there two years ago our dollar was par or slightly over. Now It’s at a four year low. As Albertans sales tax is a foreign concept so California’s eight percent is a shocker. Doing the math is vital to ensure that what appears to be a steal is in fact a deal.

The other strategy to remember is that most of the designers have their haute couture line and their cheaper one for us mortals. Kenneth Cole Reaction is less than Kenneth Cole.

Obtaining a department store credit card nets an additional discount. This is only smart if you pay it immediately after. A loyalty card from DSW can lead to free stuff. Bottom line, shopping anywhere is a game of nerves and wit coupled with serendipity, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.