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How to buy the perfect shoe, on sale, thanks to Shop It To Me

June 19, 2010 |  8:00 am

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I need a new pair of shoes. They need to be sandal-y, but dressy enough for the office. The heel needs to be just high enough to look chic, but not too high. (I am all about comfort.) They need to be size 9 medium, and I think I would like them in either black or a neutral beigy-brown color. Oh, and no buckles! (I am all about slip-on ease.) And I probably better not pay more than $150 if I want to keep the Spousal Unit from blowing a gasket.

On Sunday, I plug into the Internet and start to surf. Zappos is too daunting for my mood today; so is Shoes.com. Nordstrom is having a sale; I scroll and scroll ... and scroll and scroll, and finally find the perfect shoe. Bingo! But wait: they are sold out of 9s. Drat! I push my mouse away in frustration.

On Monday, the answer to my shopping woes walks into the Times' office in the form of Charlie Graham, founder of Shop It To Me, a 5-year-old free online shopping service that has just been updated and relaunched. Charlie, it turns out, is a computer wonk who also loves a bargain. ("I went to Costco before it was Costco," he says.) Drawing on his background and input from female family and friends, he set out to develop the ultimate effortless way to shop sales by using Shop It To Me as your personal internet shopper.

Here's how it works:

You go to the  Shop It To Me website and sign up to receive e-mail alerts when there are sales of clothes and accessories in your size, from retailers and designers you choose (there are more than 200 of them, from Old Navy to Oscar de la Renta). You specify the sales discount you want (from 20% to 70%), the maximum price you're willing to pay and the kinds of items you want to know about (skirts, dresses, denim, accessories, etc.). You choose how often you want to receive notices and can even designate which day or days of the week you want the alerts to arrive. (The site recommends Tuesdays and Fridays as the best combo.)

Not only will the e-mails notify you about items in your size from retailers you like at the discount you want, but sometimes there are additional discounts and special offers just for Shop It To Me clients. So of course, the minute I get back to my desk after talking with Charlie, I immediately sign up. I select about a dozen brands for myself and a few for my husband -- they also offer kids' clothes and clothes for runners, because Charlie is an avid distance runner. As soon as I'm registered I receive an introductory e-mail and start looking for those sandals.

And this time, I find a lovely pair of Cole Haans, marked down 50% from $178.99 to $88.90, in my size! I click a button and am transported to the retailer's site, which is where I make the purchase.

I think I'm in love! I think Tuesdays and Fridays are going to start being very dangerous days when my computer chirps "you've got mail."

-- Susan Denley 

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