I had the most unique challenge, this week, that I just couldn’t pass up — to spend $100 in the Sears Outdoor Living department, on products to decorate a pool or patio area. We don’t have a pool, but we have a deck, a screen porch and a patio in our backyard and all of them are in need of a serious decorating overhaul. I was incredibly excited at the prospect of giving one of them a facelift.
I started my shopping research online, by checking out the Sears Simply Outdoors Online Catalog and our local Sears ad. If you’d like to see the pictures of my online research and my in-store shopping experience, you can see my Google album, here. It was fun to look through the gorgeous outdoor dining sets. There were two or three that I really liked, but they were definitely not within my $100 budget. This proves I have incredible taste, right? 🙂
When I was finished dreaming about the perfect outdoor dining set, I decided I should keep looking for things that would actually fit my budget. A firepit would be very cool for the back patio, so I decided to see what Sears had to offer. I was disappointed that most of the really pretty ones were only sold as part of very expensive seating group sets, but I kept digging and found three that were sold separately.
The online catalog had a section devoted to nothing but grills and I wanted to check those out since our old one is actually rusting through the bottom and will need to be replaced, soon. Most that would work for our large family, were well outside my $100 budget, but I did find what would be my husband’s ultimate dream grill! I may actually have to save up and get this for his birthday, later this summer! He would be in grilling heaven!
Well, I was having a lot of fun browsing the online catalog, but I definitely needed to get serious about making a list of available products that would fit my budget and our family’s decorating style. As I continued through the online catalog, I realized that my options within the $100 limit were going to be limited. I knew I wanted to look at the firepits and though they really weren’t my decorating taste, the catalog showed some decorative solar lights that would also be something I could afford to purchase.
Just when I thought that I wasn’t going to find anything I could afford and also like in the Outdoor Living department at Sears, I realized all the gorgeous dining sets I had looked at were decorated with beautiful pots, tableware and serveware. I quickly switched gears from the patio to the deck and decided to add beautiful planters, decor and tableware in bright colors to make our summer entertaining, even more special! There were several items I would look for when I got to the store.
Now, that I had a plan, I was really excited and got ready to make my trip. Our nearest mall (and Sears) are 40 miles away, so when we spend the gas money and time to drive in, it’s a big deal; and I was looking forward to the time away and shopping for some colorful, fun tableware and maybe a firepit! I made sure I had everything I would need — my $100, a list, my camera and my campaign instructions. I knew I needed to track down the print catalog for the Simply Outdoors campaign when I got to the store and I was hopeful it might offer me even more options, than what I had seen online.
When I arrived at Sears, I headed straight to the outdoor living department. It’s been quite some time, since I’ve actually been in the store, since we normally order our appliances from Sears, online, and have them delivered when we need to replace one; so I was pretty impressed with myself, that I remembered right where to go. I immediately approached one of the salesmen and shared one of my business cards, explaining who I was and what I was doing. (It makes people a little uneasy when you start snapping pictures in their place of business, if they don’t know why you’re there.) He said ok and then gave my business card to the department manager, who visited with me for a second or two and then both left me to look around. I wandered back and forth for about fifteen minutes in a display area that had many, many grills on the floor and two walls with some grill accessories and a few decor items. Across the aisle, next to tools, there was also a small display area of patio dining tables. Since, I already knew I couldn’t afford any of those, I snapped a few pictures and wandered back to the grill/patio area.
I knew I was probably missing another portion of the department, so I sought out an employee, again, to ask if there were other Outdoor Living items displayed in different parts of the store. He told me that they might have some more stuff in the back, but they didn’t have room to put it out and then he left to talk to another salesman. Needless to say I was getting a little frustrated, so I walked back, once again to the area with the banner that said Outdoor Living. I really hadn’t missed anything, grills, charcoal, grill accessories and the two walls of “decor”.
Suddenly, I remembered that pools were also part of the campaign. I was so excited, because I was sure if I found where the pools were, I would find the rest of the department. I approached a salesman, one more time, and asked where the pool displays were. He pointed to a back corner of the tool department and told me they were back there, but they didn’t have any accessories. I walked in the direction he pointed and found some pool boxes standing in a display in the aisle. That was it. No other pool or patio anything.
My disappointment had reached its peak, by this point and I knew I still needed to spend the $100, before I could finish my work. I went once again to the two walls of “decor”, hoping to find some of the beautiful tableware or vases I had seen in the online catalog displays. As, I stared at the meager offerings on the walls, one more time, I looked up and noted that at the very top, next to the ceiling there was a box with a firepit in it and a box with a fountain that was more than I could afford. I couldn’t bring myself to approach the unresponsive and unhelpful sales staff for a fifth time to ask them to get down the firepit box, open it and let me see it’s quality. I walked to the wall and grabbed two folding end tables and two planter stands that would meet the budgetary requirements. I was so flustered at the prices of these items and the disappointment of the experience that I forgot to use my Shop Your Way Rewards #, to accumulate savings points for a future purchase, and the clerk didn’t ask for it; so that was another disappointment, recognized too late. I hopped in the car and started the 40 mile trip back home.
I recognize that Sears is a big company and not all stores or their employees are the same, so I will leave this experience with the idea that this particular location is not a place that I will be shopping in again. I DID find items online that I really liked and as I mentioned, previously, we have bought several appliances from Sears through their online store and always had a good experience. For me, I prefer to save time and gas money shopping the wider selection available in the online store. I can still use my Shop Your Way Rewards points and save money on my purchases when I shop online, too. That’s a feature I really appreciate!
I wasn’t able to do the Memorial weekend patio decorating I had hoped for and introduce those pops of color to my outdoor tablescape, that I was so excited about, but I’m sure I will find some great frugal options for doing that, soon, and be able to share them with you. In the meantime, if you are in the market for grills, pools or patio furnishings I would recommend checking out the online options Sears has to offer you. You’ve gotta love being able to shop from the comfort of home, save with their Shop Your Way Rewards program and have products delivered right to your door! It would be a good idea to check out the Sears Facebook page and follow them on Twitter, too, so you are always up-to-date on the best deals.
I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric #Sears As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product and company.