Shop 'til you drop. For me, that means about 15 minutes. Unless, of course, I'm going along for the ride on one of Melissa Baxter's Back by Popular Demand bus tours.
Last fall I boarded the bus with about 30 other ladies at Baxter's consignment shop on U.S. Highway 29 in Lilburn. Women travel across county and state lines to take advantage of these trips, and Baxter said that she's even had men come along.
"My husband just announced he wants a divorce, so I came to shop with my sister," a lady from North Carolina told everyone.
Then there were two cousins who hadn't seen each other since they graduated from high school 20 years ago. The one who had moved away recently moved back. They thought getting together to shop like they used to do in high school, without either one having to drive, would be the perfect way to celebrate their reunion. So without hesitation, they drove up from Butts County for the occasion.
For $35, which included a gourmet lunch, we boarded the bus at 9 a.m. and set out to visit six other consignment shops all over metro Atlanta, where we could add to our "savings spree" with a 20 percent discount at each store.
Our first stop on this 70-mile venture was Shelly's Clothesline in Duluth, where we were greeted with coffee and pastries. Then on to Roswell, through traffic that none of us had to deal with, to some high-end shops where it was amazing to see what the rich and famous cast off with the price tags still attached.
"Some women are compulsive shoppers," Baxter said. "They go out and buy way too much on impulse and months later when they realize they really didn't want it, they just take it to a consignment shop rather than try to return it."
Though most of these bargains were still out of my price range, I did manage to find a beach glass necklace that had been marked down for clearance to $3. And with my purchase I got to choose a free pair of earrings from a basket on the counter.
Oh, and did I mention the wine and hors d'oeuvres spread out on white linen?
As we rode back toward Gwinnett County bragging about our bargains, we stopped at Finders Keepers in Avondale where I found a funky purple sweater with a fringed collar and cuffs. And on my way out the door I grabbed a free cookie.
We returned to our starting point about 5 p.m. with enough time to make one last sweep through BBPD to make sure we didn't miss a thing.
The next bus is boarding on April 16, and it includes shopping for both clothes and furniture. Four more trips are scheduled throughout the year. To reserve a seat, where you can drop as you shop, visit www.atlantaconsignmentstores.com.
Susan Larson is a freelance writer who lives in Lilburn. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.