The Beach Blog
by Bill Longenecker
Posted April 24, 2012
BillLabs has been my semi-serious testing service for beach lifestyle toys and stuff for about 25 years.
For at least 10 years, the "9.99" booth at the Gate River Run expo has provided most of my outdoor wear. They offer expensive, synthetic, high performance shirts, shorts, jackets, tights, and socks for $9.99 per item. Running shoes are $45.
My expensive tastes in bicycles come first. To pay for them and their upkeep, mere clothing comes last after vital living expenses like food, fuel, insurance, and utilities.
My name brand high performance clothing may be "last year's" stuff, but it works well. The shirts wick sweat off my skin, keep it shaded, and cool thanks to the mesh fabrics. Some of it once sold over $50. At $9.99, the price is fine.
The SPF gear protects my skin from some of the sun's UV rays. Some of my stuff is 10 years old, a $1 a year.
My running shoes usually come from 1st. Place Sports. They always have a 30 to 50 percent off selection. Shoes must fit well so they can carry me safely 15 to 20 miles on my Long Saturday Runs. I check every few months so my feet are protectedwith new shoes.
Food is a vital expense. It must promote my health and be tasty. The buy-one-get-one-free deals help keep costs down. I have learned that these promotions come in a predicable cycle.
My "I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter" light margarine is a good example. When offered as a "BOGO", I buy two and get four, maybe twice to get me through to the next cycle. This also works with my favorite two brands of tomato sauce, Bertolli and Barilla, are made with olive oil.
If a preferred food product is not on sale or BOGO, then it is delayed or an acceptable substitute may be chosen.
To save gasoline, I try to drive only when I am being paid. Thus, my car may get two to four days off a week. I bike commute up to 22 miles once in a while as well. "More time than money" is also "Buy-Like-Bill" motto. My Nissan Versa was bought new in 2007 but has only 36,000 miles on it.
My work clothes are scrubs for my job in the ER, but when fancier stuff is required for my other job, wash and wear slacks come from places like Beall's Outlet. Dress shirts often come from Goodwill. Name brands cost about $5 and are often items that have never been worn because they were un-wanted gifts in the wrong size or color.
Big Lots sells antacid tablets for $1.80 compared to Tums for $5. Calcium carbonate by any other name is the same! Bimonthly scavenging trips are fun. Raw, natural almonds are $5.00 for 15 ounces. My big toes love their fabric bandages on long runs. A box of 80 is $1.
Dr. Scholl's "knee saving" gel inserts are just $5 at Big Lots. They go into retired running shoes for my ER work. A reader has warned me to check expiration dates on Big Lots merchandise that have them.
Bargains like bikes for other people can be bargains on Craig's List, if one is educated on a subject or has the help such a friend. I check for bikes and kayaks occasionally out of curiosity.
Bikes will be my example. You can see and ride them local sale bikes first. Ignore all used Schwinn, Mongoose, Pacific, and Huffy bikes. If a seller says simply "Mt. bike $100", it is likely not a real mountain bike. If you want "bike-looking" product from a discount store, at least buy it new. (Remember, on Sundays, I work at a bike shop.)
Look only for brands on Craig's List like Giant, Trek, or Specialized. It is likely not worth the call if the bike brand and its parts like the shifters, gears, and/or brakes are not listed. Ask a knowing friend.
Buy like Bill. Spend good money on good stuff that will last and perform, not on antacid tablets that dissolve when used despite the name on the bottle.
You can reach Bill with your comments at (904) 246-0417 and email@example.com