Goodbye Neiman's, Hello Loehmann's

by Ilene Amy Berg
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loehmanns.gifDespite the anxiety-producing hit that my 401K has taken, I’m quite sure that the current belt-tightening is not bad for me.  I agree with my friend Marc that “it doesn’t debit your happiness to live with less.”  Yet Marc still gets grief from his friend for driving a VW now instead of a BMW, and I recently got grief from my friend for returning a $45 pair of windshield wipers to Pep Boys when I found Consumer Reports “best buy” ones on Amazon for $12.  Only someone wealthy, arrogant and out-of-touch belittles driving a VW or saving $33.  So here are some thoughts for middle-class people like Marc and me about how to live a very good life on a VW-with-Amazon-wipers budget.

Ya gotta say:
Goodbye Neiman’s – hello Loehmann’s.
Goodbye Barney’s – hello Ross.
Goodbye Nordstrom’s – hello Nordstom’s Rack.
Goodbye Lancome – hello Neutrogena.
Goodbye mani/pedi – hello nippers and PedEgg.
pedicure_spa.jpgGoodbye salon facials – hello steam, scrub, mask and moisturizer.
Goodbye color by Philippe – hello beauty school student.
Goodbye spa eyebrow tint – hello Just for Men.
Goodbye LA Fitness – hello weights and walking shoes.
Goodbye Lipitor – hello Simvastatin.
Adios Gelson’s – hola Costco.
Adios Whole Foods – hola Trader Joe’s.
Adios Starbuck’s – hola Mr. Coffee.
Adios Illy – hola Melitta.
Adios prime – hola choice.
Adios ahi at Katsuya – hola tuna melt in my kitchen.
Adios English farmhouse cheddar – hola Tillamook.
Adios Cristal – hola Korbel.
Adios Opus One – hola Two Buck Chuck.
Adios Wally’s bordeaux dinner – hola Ladies’ Night at the Pineapple Hill Saloon.
Adios Pinot burger – hola Fatburger.
See ya Fazio dry cleaner – howdy Maytag.
See ya shirt laundry – howdy Rowenta steamer.
See ya Benjamin Moore – howdy faded walls.
fatburger.jpgSee ya central air – howdy oscillating fan.
See ya fresh flowers – howdy empty vase.
See ya AT&T – howdy Skype.
See ya full-price – howdy Goldstar.
See ya orchestra – howdy balcony.
See ya premium cable – howdy Hulu.
See ya Arclight – howdy Netflix.
See ya Border’s – howdy library.
Au revoir Paris – bonjour Pasadena.
Au revoir London – bonjour Long Beach.
Au revoir Santa Barbara – bonjour Santa Monica.
Au revoir new car – bonjour new tires.
Au revoir car wash – bonjour hose.
Au revoir valet – bonjour meter.
jiffy_lube.jpgAu revoir dealer oil change – bonjour Jiffy Lube.
Au revoir corner Mobil – bonjour Costco gas line.
Au revoir airport limo – bonjour Flyaway bus.
Au revoir Admirals’ Club serenity – bonjour Gate 49 frenzy.
Au revoir taxi – bonjour Metrocard.
Bye bye Party City – hi there Dollar Tree.
Bye bye Bloomie’s – hi there Home Goods.
Bye bye made in Italy – hi there made in India.
Bye bye retail – hi there Coupon Mom.
Bye bye Cambio jeans – hi there Gap jeans.
Bye bye Stuart Weitzman – hi there DSW.
Bye bye Donna Karan – hi there Isaac Mizrahi…for Target.
Bye bye new blouse – hi there new blouse in the closet with the tags still on.

Bye bye 401K – breathe deep and say “I’ll be okay.”

In 1932, when my mother was 10-years-old, the bank foreclosed on my grandparents’ house and moved the family into an apartment.  Growing up, my sister and I always felt oppressed by my mother’s depression-necessitated penny-pinching, and today I am struck by the irony of having to fully embrace her lessons in parsimony.  A few weeks ago, a man carrying two pails rang my doorbell.  Standing on the porch, he pointed to his buddy at the curb, next to a truck filled with sacks.  Lifting the pails, he explained that they had very good seed and fertilizer and would spread it over my lawn for $7 a bag.  My gardener normally does this, of course, but I told them to go ahead and do it anyway.  And then I wondered if this was the start of a long line of people who will come to my door in the next months and years, seeking work or a helping hand; if the Grapes of Wrath imagery I thought was in the past is now a real part of my present; if I will be able to continue paying my gardener; or if my worst, unmarried-woman fears will come to pass, and I will have to go house to house looking for work myself, instead of making jokes about having to buy cheaper cheddar.

I do think I’m going to be okay, but it sure helps to eliminate wretched excess and have a few VW-with-Amazon-wipers tricks up your sleeve.  Got some?


Ilene Amy Berg (aka The Berger Queen) is a television producer, antique hunter, New York and London lover, and intrepid food adventuress.


#5 melinda fishman 2009-08-06 05:44
omg, this made me lol and feel so much better about the things i do now to save a little, spend a little. adios votives, hello yartzeit candles- what a better deal! adios stuart weitzman, hello aerosoles.

thanks for the fremium laughs. more soon, please.
#4 Marc Flanagan 2009-07-08 04:38
Addios IHOP hello Costco Food Court...

All one scoffs at my VW anymore...87oct ane and 28 Hwy

Keep up the good words (there free).

Marc f
#3 Judy Ranan 2009-07-08 02:13
Ilene, This is the best summary of how to get the best for the least and you succeeded with every one! Goodbye the IVY, hello FRESH CORN GRILL! You go girl!
#2 Maxine Levinson 2009-07-08 00:38
I'm with you with this one, Ilene..and here this summer in New York:
Goodbye Hampton's ... hello Governors Island! Free ferry ride, beautiful grounds facing the harbor and the Statue of Liberty with picnic tables and umbrellas, Adirondack chairs, benches and hammocks. Bring a picnic or enjoy the lovely Jamaican woman and her family making and selling yummy curried chicken and goat roti ($6.50)
#1 Bruce 2009-07-07 11:23
This is just so clever and so right on! Go Ilene. Keep up the GREAT writing. A sense of humor in these times is EXACTLY what we need. I used to have a contest, before this present crisis, over who was cheaper and who was more clever in saving $$$. She eventually trumped me in some way like re-using every plastic bag that crossed her path or something along those lines. I think these changes are GREAT for our kids who have otherwise been horribly spoiled. My son actually washed my car today (a punishment) and when he asked me what to do, I realized I'd really failed him (he's almost 16). Going to the library instead of B&N, making coffee instead of Coffee Bean, eating in instead of out, are all better for us. Great column Berger Queen!

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