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Okay, before you think I turned in my Y-chromosome card, let me preface this by saying I am like most men when it comes to shopping. The thought of going into a fabric or craft store with my wife makes me break out in hives and is about as appealing as a hot needle through the eye or attending a Celine Dion concert. (Equivalent events.)

It's not that I love shopping. I don’t. What I do isn’t shopping. I’ve simply become a treasure hunter.

You’ve probably heard women say, “It’s not just the bargain, it’s the hunt.” Well, for me, it’s both. It’s the quest to find a deal that sounds too good to be true but actually exists.

First, you should know there are two types of bargain hunters. My wife, who simply comes home and says, “Look what I got for 22 cents each!” Then opens a huge bag of Lindt chocolate Easter bunnies that were five bucks a couple weeks ago.

This is the correct attitude.

Then there’s a woman I know who has a different way of rationalizing a sale. The scene plays out this way:

Wife: “Do you like my new dress?”

Husband: “Looks great.” (Notices the price tag, quickly flips up the footrest in the recliner while spilling his beer.) “Three hundred dollars!”

Wife: “It was on sale.”

Husband: “But… three hundred dollars!”

Wife: “You’re looking at this the wrong way. It was four hundred. So I saved you a hundred bucks.”

This is the wrong way to bargain hunt.

My obsession started years ago when a buddy turned me on to a salvage store in Mobile called Hudson’s. My wife scored a beautiful mahogany grandfather clock for a song, so I decided to see for myself if this place was that good. The first time I walked in the smell of smoke smacked me in the face. Turned out Hudson’s had gotten a load of expensive smoke-damaged clothing from a high-end department store. The sign piqued my interest. “Any article of clothing, two dollars.” I figured, seriously, how good could this stuff be? But it looked like quality stuff so I dove into a giant pile of wrinkled suits, found a beautiful wool one in my size that fit perfectly. No holes, no rips. My jaw dropped when I looked at the label.

Halston.

Yep, I got a Halston suit for two bucks. Dropped it off at the dry cleaners, got the slacks hemmed, and ended up with a five hundred dollar suit for twelve dollars.

My latest Indiana Jones quest takes place at another salvage joint called Dirt Cheap, which might be the most appropriately named store in history. On days the employees stock the shelves, they close off a few aisles. Once the yellow tape comes down, it’s a feeding frenzy. If you’re lucky enough to be there on that day, things are organized. But a few days after shoppers have picked up items and returned them to the wrong aisle, it’s a slow trip through the store. One shelf might hold a Purolator oil filter, a Chia-Pet, and a menorah. You have to dig like an archaeologist.

A recent trip scored a pair of Banana Republic wool slacks for four bucks. I came home proud of my success but absolutely beamed when I reached in the pocket and found the original price tag: $118.

Then there’s my biggest treasure: a gorgeous expensive slate pool table only a few months old. Found it on Craigslist and turned out it was part of a divorce sale. The woman scorned was very clear; she didn’t care that she was practically giving it away for about ten percent of the original cost. She wanted it gone. Right. Now. “I want… his toys… OUT of the house.” Literally pennies on the dollar.

Big bargains are everywhere. Drug stores and grocery stores have markdown aisles. With inflation through the roof, the classifieds have tons of deals. Everything is negotiable.

Look, I still have no desire to wander into a regular department store. And after my experience with bargain hunting, I simply cannot pay full price for anything. But in a time when gas and food prices are insane, bargain hunting has become more than just a fun hobby. It’s a necessity.

So guys, put on your leather jacket and fedora, grab your whip, channel Harrison Ford and start searching. You won’t find the Holy Grail but will discover that treasures come in different forms. Sometimes they’re chocolate bunnies, sometimes wool suits. But they’re all treasures. Look hard enough and you’ll find that “X” really does mark the spot in a lot of places.

Randy Tatano is the author of more than 20 novels, writing political thrillers under the pen name Nick Harlow, and romantic comedies as Nic Tatano. He spent 30 years working in television news as a local affiliate reporter and network field producer. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.

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