I didn't intend for this shopping column to be such a hodgepodge of sale and clearance goodies, but that's the way it happened. When I set out on Wednesday to see what retailers had left on their shelves, I didn't expect to see quite so many shoppers. I thought they'd all be at work, like me. Wait. I was out shopping, but working. Well, that's what I do once a week.
What I discovered was a lot more merchandise on the racks than expected. It's obvious retailers bought more goods in anticipation of a favorable holiday shopping season ... and may have been a bit too optimistic. That's good news for bargain hunters, though. These stores now are taking serious markdowns to get goods out the door to make way for midwinter and early spring merchandise.
Macy's at St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights had racks and racks of women's clothing on clearance, but one of the deals I liked best was over in evening handbags. Granted, a woman doesn't need many glitzy little purses to go with her wardrobe, but if you are planning ahead, then consider one to match a winter cocktail dress or even a prom gown. Lots of colors and styles, from royal blue, satin and sequins to metallic envelopes and tiny shoulder bags, all for $26.98.
It just so happened that when I stepped into Forever 21 at the mall, my eyes were immediately drawn to more handbags -- in cheeky vivid colors like pink, orange, yellow and green. Buy one and put it away for spring, but why not liven up drab winter by carrying one now? They range in price from about $20 to $25. You'll find real leather, faux patent leather and quilted fabric (not shown) in other colors as well.
An inexpensive novelty snagged my attention inside Earthbound Trading Co.: Plastic Scrabble bracelet for $7.95.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today, Sears has a variety of doorbuster sales, including 40 percent off running and cross-training shoes (some exclusions) and $4.99 Toughskins separates for boys and girls. If you've signed up for a pilates or aerobics class and need a stability ball, they're $14.99 on sale. Prices good through today.
Baker's shoe store at the mall has closed.
Up-do's, especially twisting your hair into a bun, is very 2013. But, making a neat knot on top of your head or at the nape of your neck is not necessarily an easy thing to do. Enter the Hair Donut. This soft form comes in several shapes and sizes -- including styles on hair combs -- and can be found at Claire's at the mall for $4.50 to $6.
If you like the jewelry sold at Spenser Gifts, it's buy one piece and get the second for $1.
Inexpensive Rue 21 is calling it the Kiss It Good Buy Sale: Take another 50 percent off clearance items.
At Coldwater Creek, take up to 70 percent off during the end-of-season sale.
Build-A-Bear is now carrying a limited supply of Love Hello Kitty plush dolls, which come with a special heart bow and "Love" on her chest. With a purchase of $20 or more, you get free stickers and 24 valentines cards.
Check out Crazy 8 at the mall. Everything in the store is $12.99 and under -- all the time. You'll find clothing and accessories in sizes for newborns, toddlers and boys and girls (up to 14), including some new Valentine's Day outfits. Sales include fleece scarves for $4.99, graphic tees for $5.99 and basic denim for $11.99.