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I love getting a deal – and based on the reports about the hour-long wait at the cash registers on the opening day of the new Home Goods store, I’m obviously not alone in the pleasure I feel when I bag a bargain. It’s that “I just scored!” feeling followed by a mental sack dance on the way to the car.

Finding a bargain is really the gift that keeps giving because every time I use the item that I got the really good deal on, I get to enjoy those good feelings all over again; congratulating myself on what a really great shopper I am.

And did I ever feel smug last week when I nabbed a pair of Champion brand athletic capris at Grocery Outlet for $9.99; I’ve seen them at Target for $29.99. Before I tossed them into my shopping cart with the 79 cent Chobani’s and $2.99 Amy’s Enchiladas, I inspected them thoroughly to try and figure out how they ended up in a Grocery Outlet store and what was wrong with them. Why were they were so cheap? Did the factory in Jordan where they were manufactured forget to sew the crotch seam?

Nope. I’ve already worn them and there weren’t any holes, gaps or other imperfections in them. I’m patting myself on the back. Saving money feels so righteous.

Last week was an especially good week for bargains because in addition to that great find at Grocery Outlet, I picked up a couple of items off the clearance rack at the Banana Republic Outlet store. Everything on clearance was an additional 50 percent off. I paid $15 for a really cute cardigan – original price was $59 – and $3.50 for the matching camisole to wear underneath it. Score again.

These amazing deals have prompted me to think about how much quality merchandise there is that can be found at really exceptional prices. I’ve begun playing a little game in my mind; it’s sort of a shopping version of “how low can you go” and still get something that isn’t absolute junk.

Let me give you a recent example of this. I needed to replace my ear buds. I use them almost every day at the gym so I can watch TV while I’m on the treadmill instead of watching the bouncing bottom of the person in front of me. So after yanking the ear buds out of my purse a hundred times or so, the little wires finally pull apart and they quit working.

I’ve purchased them at Target for $9.99. Certainly cheap enough. I know a person could spend a lot more money if they wanted really excellent sound quality but for the purpose of watching reruns of Frasier while trying to keep my feet moving on the elliptical machine, these do the job just fine.

But back to Grocery Outlet – my new favorite store – I bought ear buds there for $4.99. They were every bit as good (or at least as acceptable) in quality as the ones that I bought at twice the price.

And then I saw ear buds at the Dollar Store.  I had to buy them. Could I actually get a pair of serviceable ear buds for $1?

Okay, so based on this experiment, $4.99 is the rock bottom for that particular thing. The ear buds that I paid $1 for were about the same quality as the headphones that you would be handed to watch the in-flight movie on an airplane. In other words, tin cans and string work better.

So that’s the price point for that particular accessory. But I’ll keep on the treasure hunt for other exceptional deals. I’m waiting for a Coach handbag to find its way into the bin of discontinued flavors of Wheat Thins at Grocery Outlet. You just never know.

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