Tool of the Trade: ShoppingNotes

shopping notes.indexed

2016 Update: Check out our latest discussion of our favorite online shopping apps!

What’s the best way to find out about online sales?  I always find myself seeing an item of clothing (or bag, or pair of shoes, or…) online and then saying, “Cute, but not at that price.” Of course, sometimes the item is cute enough to just buy outright, but sometimes you’d rather take the chance and wait for a sale. ShoppingNotes is a new-to-me service that tracks the price of an item, and will send you an e-mail alert when the price decreases.

The program, which is still in beta, is pretty easy to use:  You see an item, copy the URL, and then go to, sign in, and paste the URL.  There’s even a bookmark (which is now on my toolbar) that you can install so you can just see an item and click the bookmark to get set up.  You can set price alerts — I usually just have it set to “alert me to any price change,” but you can change it to “alert me if it drops below price X.”  All of the alerts expire after 30 days, but there’s a single button that you can use to renew them all for another 30 days.

I’ve also used Savvy Circle in the past, as well as ShopStyle (for price drops for specific brands) and ShopItToMe (for price drops for brands and stores for items in my sizes).  A few years ago there was a way to set it up so your RSS feed would run an Amazon search daily (say “waterford lismore” or “garnet platinum”) and alert you if there were any new items with a price drop — but it stopped working a while ago and I haven’t found a replacement.

Readers, which online services do you use to watch for price drops?



  1. That’s very interesting. I wonder if it will alert you if the store that has the item does a widespread sale, like 40% off everything in store, rather than one particular item being on sale.

    • I don’t think it does — I have some items in my account that I know went on sale for 30% off today but it never alerted me. So I think it’s only an item-specific reduction.

  2. Thank you Kat! I clicked over to your site after looking at a skirt for the third time that stubbornly refuses to go on sale. I have had no luck with shopittome, so I am definitely going to try shoppingnotes!

  3. Speaking of sales…

    I’m thinking about buying my first “big girl,” somewhat expensive bag. I’m in love with one from Kate Spade. Does anyone have any insight into their sales cycle? I don’t want it to sell out, but i don’t want to buy it and have it go on sale in a month (it’s fairly expensive, for me). I have a sale code for 20% off full price right now, and I’m just wondering if it’s as good as i’m going to get!

    • Good question :

      Anyone? Bueller?

    • another anon :

      I have been on their mailing list for a while, and I think the best I have seen is an additional 25% off of a sale price plus free shipping, but it was final sale. Also, I have made the mistake of waiting too long before…I am still thinking about a gorgeous pair of shoes that I wanted but which were gone in my size by the time they went on sale. So you may get a somewhat better deal, but you could also lose out on getting the bag you want if it is a popular one.

    • I’ve had pretty good luck finding Kate Spade bags on sale after one season, but you have to be flexible on color. Check the Kate Spade outlets near you as well if you have time – the one near me often carries current styles.

      Or can you buy it from Nordstroms? If so, they should match the coupon you have, and if it does go on sale in the near future you might be able to get that price matched as well.

      You can also try searching for Kate Spade on slickdeals dot net to see what kinds of coupons have been offered recently.

    • 20% off is pretty good for them. If you go through ebates you’ll get 3.5% back in cash.

    • If it’s a current style, I’d get it now. I have good luck finding last season’s designs at Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, Filene’s,, and so on. Also, be aware if they carry it at Nordstrom, Nordstrom will price match, plus then you have the famous Nordstrom guarantee and return policy.

      What I would probably do in your situation is buy the bag at Nordstrom with the 20% off via price matching, and hang onto it for a few months without using it. If you find it cheaper, return the unused bag to Nordie’s. Of course, if it’s your very first big girl bag, you are probably excited and may not wait to use it – in that case, just go for it.

      Speaking from personal experience, I’d advise you against getting a beautiful new bag and carrying it a lot in the summer, if you will be outside with it. Sweat and deodorant will stain a bag, and the sun can bleach the color. I had this happen to my most beloved purse last summer, and had to have it carefully cleaned and restored. This summer I’m carrying a bag that doesn’t sit anywhere near my underarm!

    • I’m kind of hooked on Kate Spade bags, too. I agree with the others. 20% off for your bag of choice is a good deal. If you’re willing to gamble it will make it to clearance before it sells out, you might get a better deal. But you’d have to wait, and if it’s a great style, it will probably sell out before clearance.

      As someone else said, though, those 25% off and free shipping deals on final clearance can be mighty tempting for impulse buys~!

      • Thanks for the tips! I bit at nordstrom :) It’s this one, in black:,default,pd.html?dwvar_PXRU2483_color=810&start=37&cgid=handbags-leather

        I like it because it seems simple enough to withstand changes in trend, but on-trend enough to still be youthful instead of staid. And it’s big enough to fit a hardback book or a sweater!

        • Nice choice! I have totally ogled that bag.

        • Oh, great choice! That is a great, classic bag and it will look beautiful on you for years and years.

          I have a similar bag with both handles and a long strap. I love it because it doesn’t sit under the arm in the summer, avoiding the problem I mentioned above.

      • I bought an adorable Kate Spade on sample sale for 75% off, but it only happens like once or twice a year. And I went bold on the color – similar to Tiffany blue, but it was the best bag I have ever purchased. Of everything I have ever owned in my life, next to my wedding dress, I have received the most compliments on this bag. So don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone on colors!

  4. This is completely random, but I was just thinking how disappointing it is that Mad Men’s not on this summer!

    • Lana Lang :

      WHAT?! Why not? This has actually just seriously depressed me…

      • The next season won’t air until sometime in 2012. There were all sorts of delays in negotiating with AMC, writers, actors, etc. The series is now set to go to 7 seasons. Agree that it’s sad!!

      • This is actually good news for me, because Im only on season 3! Maybe Ill be caught up by the time it comes back

    • I just realized today that I have practically no shows to watch this summer! Any recommendations from fellow Corporettes? I haven’t really picked up any new ones recently, other than the slightly embarrassingly geeky Game of Thrones, and that’s over in a few weeks too.

      • Covert Affairs is really good and just premiered last night. A new show on USA called “Suits” looks good and starts in a few weeks. ABC is premiering a new combat hospital drama (think Grey’s Anatomy in Afghanistan) that looks good, too.

        • Burn Notice on USA is always fun! Premiers on 6/23.

          • I love Burn Notice! Covert Affairs is good too, and the main character often wears good work clothes (although slightly too sexy/Hollywood sometimes).

          • skippy pea :

            Yes. Burn Notice is good. Also another guilty pleasure is a series about concierge doctor in Hamptons (also on USA) – the name escapes me right now! Its a lot of fun and great scenery!

          • The concierge doctor show is called Royal Pains. I’m also a fan, both of that and Burn Notice!

      • SF Bay Associate :

        The Closer is a guilty pleasure. Several of my friends are fans of The Good Wife, so I may netflix that.

        • THE GOOD WIFE IS SO GOOD. I really believe that it’s the best legal drama on television right now and their female characters are just so well-written – complex, nuanced. Every episode just gets better and better, but it’s definitely one of those shows that you have to actually watch (not just put on the background). It deserves all the praise it gets. I just rewatched the season finale yesterday because I missed it so much.

          • I watch very little TV, but The Good Wife is my new obsession. I just got season one on DVD so that I can find out what I missed while I watch the season two reruns until the new season comes out. I agree that it has very good female characters, along with interesting cases, good detective work and great fashions on the women characters. Also, it’s interesting from a parenting/work/life balance aspect too – although I hope most people have calmer lives than Alicia!

          • LOVE the Good Wife! Strong female characters who wear awesome but not ridiculously inappropriate clothes and (despite the title) have issues that aren’t just about men (though many are).

          • BigLaw Refugee :

            Agree! I sometimes pause it just to get a better look at the female characters’ clothes. :) And it’s a really great show.

        • Valleygirl :

          Good wife = awesome TV crack. I think it’s one of my fav shows just because the female characters are very multidimensional and really drive the show as opposed to so many of the law/cop/etc. ones on right now.

        • Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler :

          So sad that this is The Closer’s final season. We need more strong female leads on television.

      • Here’s my TV: Game of Thrones (don’t be embarrassed Jas, not even slightly!), Friday Night Lights (what’s left of it), The Bachelorette (now THAT’S embarrassing, right?), Drop Dead Diva (ridiculous fun), and Falling Skies (saw an advance copy of the pilot, can’t wait for more).

        • You totally just reminded me that I didn’t watch FNL last week. I’ll have to watch it online tomorrow.

      • Anonymous :

        I am really enjoying The Voice (and I was never an American Idol fan or watcher of any of the other talent competition shows). Also the show White Collar is cute and entertaining, on the USA Network.

      • Embrace Masterpiece TV via Netflix. Downton Abbey and Sherlock are fabulous – but not nearly long enough series!

        • I second the Sherlock rec. It’s so good! I can’t wait for the second season.

        • Totally agree!

          • Don’t forget the new Upstairs Downstairs and South Riding. But my favorite is Downton Abbey. Love that series! Can’t wait cor the next season!

        • Also love the UK’s version of Coupling and just got hooked on Mistresses (unfort only the first 6 epis are on demand!)

      • I agree! And I’m embarrassed to admit it. What I’m getting on iTunes to tide me over….

        Friday Night Lights (love love love, not from Texas, not a football fan. Sad it’s ending, highly recommend)
        Treme (loved The Wire, watching season One)
        Nurse Jackie (Good weird fun)
        Big Love (LOVE it…just starting the series)

        I watched the Killing on AMC which started out strong but now I’ve lost interest. Also highly recommend The Good Wife and Parks and Recreastion. Especially Parks and Recreation. Both of them have great costumes — Good Wife is aspirational and Parks and Rec Amy Poehler’s character wears suits most days, always Corporette approved.

        • LOVE Friday Night Lights-didn’t really watch it before-seasons 1-5 are on netflix instant. Loving it!

      • I’m a fan of W hite Collar on USA. It’s season just started last night. Also, Breaking Bad on AMC. Not your typical lady genre–it’s about a high school chemistry teacher who was diagnosed with cancer and started cooking meth to pay for his medical treatment. The last season was REALLY good. It starts in mid-July. And, of course, True Blood starts in late June. Love True Blood.

      • ElevenElle :

        Drop Dead Diva will be back in a couple of weeks!

      • Let’s be honest, I’ll just transition my Sunday night tv from Game of Thrones to True Blood. (I’m a total geek). Now if HBO will just think of another fantasy book series I read to adapt for the September-March months, I’ll just have sunday night fantasy all year round.

        • And if you’re super geeky and have netflix, I highly, highly recommend the new Doctor Who. Netflix has at least the first four seasons (maybe now five) streaming instantly (season 6 just had it’s mid-season finale). Also, Star Trek: TNG will be streaming instantly starting July 1st.

          • Sydney Bristow :

            I’ve just started watching the new Doctor Who. You just made my day with the TNG news!

          • Glad I can help:-) I think it’s actually all the Star Trek series, but TNG was the only one I ever watched regularly.

          • MaggieLizer :

            Now I can take all those TNG episodes off my DVR. Any idea if they’ll do the same for DS9 or Voyager?

            I’ve also been enjoying rewatching BSG on instant.

    • What’s happening with True Blood this year?

      • Starting up on June 26th, I believe. Can’t wait!

      • I AM SO EXCITED.

      • Sydney Bristow :

        I can’t wait either! I saw the first 3 minutes of the season and a new trailer yesterday. There have been some pretty good updates on the tvline blog.

    • Yes, I just LOVE this series b/c men say that I look just like January Jones and everybody says so. Now I have to wait for another 6 months to get recognized.

    • That’s so long. I wonder if they’ll skip forward in time. Apparently their set designers have a warehouse full of period phones, furniture etc.

      • so sad too bad :

        I heard Rubicon was cancelled. I know many didn’t like it but it was smart, quick and left you hanging. There aren’t that many series out there that challenge your brian (I’m shedding a tear for you, West Wing). I wish that the writers of the cancelled shows posted their thoughts on how the series should have ended. That way I’m not left wondering, was the creepy guy with the awesome loft really on Will’s side? Was he a truly bad guy? I need to know these things in order to obtain closure and move on!

        • It was initially designed to be one season from what I heard. I was surprised when I read it was going to be two seasons after thinking for most of the show that it would only be one, so I was not really that disappointed when it was canceled.

          Otherwise, Warehouse 13 is a silly summer show on SyFy that is fun to watch. I watch the USA shows as well.

        • i still mourn the west wing :( :(

    • I’m in the same boat. No Mad Men, Game of Thrones (which I LOVE) is almost over (and will probably end in a way that will make me miserable) . . . . Nothing much else good is on. . . . My solution is to watch shows I never got into on Netflix Instant. I have heard really good things about the Good Wife, so going to try that; also, intend to catch up on Park & Recreation. For guilty pleasure, someone recommended Pretty Little Liars. That, plus some movies I missed out on (just saw Education, it’s fantastic, highly recommend) should hopefully take care of my couch time. . . .

      • MaggieLizer :

        I was at a conference yesterday and so I missed this thread, but I feel I have an obligation to mention that Arrested Development is on Netflix instant.

  5. Lana Lang :

    Question about make-up brushes – what do you find is the most effective method for cleaning them? I struggle in particular with foundation brushes as I can’t get the foundation out, even with makeup remover. Someone mentioned Vaseline, but has anyone tried this and does it work? And would it not just make the brush really greasy?

    Thoughts appreciated!

    • I always use just basic anti-bacterial bar soap- it seems to clean them really thoroughly, and I haven’t had problems with it seeming to damage the brushes. I agree that Vaseline would be too greasy, but, if you wanted to go the greasy route, maybe baby oil would work? (I’ve used it as a make up remover fairly well)- I think that you’d still have to follow up with a strong soap and/or very hot water to get the grease out, though.

    • I just wash them with hand soap. It gets all the makeup out and kills bacteria. You can also use shampoo.

    • I bought mine at Bobbi Brown and the sales rep said to wash them with baby shampoo. It has worked well. I have had them for just over 2 years now.

    • dress fanatic :

      I use my Clinique face soap.

    • I use baby shampoo as well, and it works like magic, plus leaves my brushes super soft. My makeup is all powder, though (Bare Minerals), so YMMV.

    • Ditto the baby shampoo. I use a big glop and massage it into the brush and repeat as necessary until the water runs clear.

    • If the makeup is particularly stubborn (some concealers, for example), I use a clarifying shampoo instead of baby shampoo.

    • Anonymous :

      MAC makes make up brush cleaner.

    • Facial cleanser is formulated to get makeup out so it should clean your brushes pretty well. I use Neutrogena Fresh Foaming.

      That said, my foundation brush never feels 100% clean. I just don’t use it anymore.


  7. Yeah Nordstroms! Bought a pair of cute shoes on sale last week…sale price dropped $17 today and it took only a 3 minute call to get the amount credited back to my card. I just love them sometimes.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      Yep, I always check on the items in my order two weeks from my order date, just in case!

    • There are literally no Nordstromes in my entire state, so I’m just going to kindly ask ya’ll to stop going on and on about how great they are all the time.


      • Good things come to those who wait, Lyssa.

        Nordstrom The Mall at Green Hills (#759)
        Grand Opening September 16, 2011!
        2130 Abbott Martin Road
        Nashville, TN 37215

        • Charlotte :

          That’s right! I saw the space when I visited this mall last month! This is a great mall.

        • Hey, check it out! Now, to come up with an excuse to go to Nashville (approx. 2-2.5 hours away, not bad!) . . .

          • But now we’ll have to pay sales tax on our Nordstrom’s online purchases. Le sigh.

      • They do have free shipping on orders above $200. ;-)

    • Brooks Brothers does the same thing. FYI.

    • AT does this too, and so do most other stores.

      • Ann Taylor does not do this. I went on a crazy shopping spree one night, and the same night at midnight, I got an email for 25% off all items. I printed it out and brought my purchases back the very next day to ask for a credit. No price adjustments. I ended up returning everything I was so annoyed.

  8. I usually just create a Google alert for the items I stalk. I wonder if this is more effective?

  9. I couldn’t sign up. The system kept rejecting passwords I submitted through a password app or manually.

  10. I wonder if services like this will result in further inflation of prices. If companies know that consumers are going to wait for price breaks, they’re going to start with unrealistically high prices.

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