Conversation A is a typical conversation about shopping in the United States. Masahiro is an international student who has just arrived from Japan, and Anna and Will are introducing him to the shopping scenario in America.
Anna: As I was telling you, Masa, where you shop depends largely on what you need. So, if you want to buy an answering machine or a CD-player, your best bet would probably be an appliance store such as Radio Shack..
Will: Yup! Or Circuit City. I like Best Buy the best, though.
Will: Coz they usually have the best deals. They have sales on their TVs and CD-players every once in a while.
Anna: Hum. I'll bet they send you their glossy ads loaded with so-called "SALES"!
Anna: Well, I still think the CD-player I bought from them was a rip off.
Will: I'll admit some of their items are high-priced, but at least the shopper's guaranteed quality. There are very few places that have such a wide selection.
Masahiro: I need to buy disks, at least two disk holders, note cards, transparencies, and that kind of stuff.
Will: For office supplies, I suggest Office Max.
Anna: Or Comp USA. One good thing about living in a campus town, though, is that you can easily get that stuff at any of the bookstores. No doubt they do overcharge. I try to get around that by shopping around.
Masahiro: Shopping around?
Anna: Yes. That simply means you go to different stores, check out the prices of items you need and purchase them from the store(s) with the lowest price or prices.
Masahiro: I see. Sounds very practical.
Will: And time-consuming, too!
Masahiro: Where is Office Max located?
Anna: There's one in the mall, so we can stop by there this afternoon.
Masahiro: Great! Thanks.
Will: Hey, Masa. Just so you know, you can always run to the discount stores whenever you're out of something you need right away. There are several around campus.
Anna: That's right. And they carry pretty much everything a student needs. Pop, pasta, eggs, hair spray . . . you name it!
Will: They don't usually carry milk, though, so you might want to walk down to White Hen (Pantry), Walgreens, or some other convenience stores close by.
Anna: I wouldn't advise you to buy things in bulk from such stores, though. I mean, do your major shopping at the specialized stores. It's much cheaper, and more convenient in the long run.
Masahiro: Good advice!
Will: Sort of like Mom's!
Anna: Hey, watch it!
Will: Just kiddin'!
Masahiro (laughs). Life sounds great in this town! Oh! Before I forget, guys, where can I rent movies? I love watching movies in my spare time.
Anna: Me too! Let's see. There are two video stores close to your apartment. Lucky you! One's Blockbuster, and the other's That's Rentertainment. I believe they both have specials on weekdays, right Will?
Will: Yup. But not for the new releases. It's usually a buck each for the older movies.
Anna: Are you guys ready to go to the mall?
Masahiro & Will: Sure.
Anna: Masa, don't forget to take your shopping list with you.
Masahiro: Thanks for reminding me.
Anna: You're welcome. What are we waiting for? let's go.
New Words and Expression
1 Your best bet is a commonly used idiom which refers to the best possible choice or option available. In Conversation A, it refers to the most suitable store for appliances, in Anna's opinion.
2 The best deals is a frequently used shopping-related expression that refers to items for sale at bargain prices (i.e., cheap). Sometimes, "good deals" or "a real steal/What a steal" are used instead.
3 Glossy ads are colorful advertisement pamphlets or catalogs (on rich/glossy paper) that entice shoppers and usually encourage them to be "smart shoppers" or people who look for "good deals" or "sales."
4 A rip off is another frequently employed shopping-related expression used by shoppers who feel that they have been cheated. It is generally the case that the item purchased was overpriced (i.e., too costly) when it was bought.
5 Items that are high-priced are very expensive.
6 A wide selection refers to a wide array of items (e.g., models of VCRs, TVs, microwaves, walkmans, etc., depending on the store in question).
7 Stuff is a "safe" word that can be used to refer to anything the speaker intends it to refer to. Often, it is used when a speaker cannot recall the names of things s/he wants to refer to, and when s/he wishes to avoid having to mention what may appear to be an endless list.
8 Stores are known to carry items. In other words, they have the items they "carry." However, stores could be "out" of certain items (when their supplies have been exhausted).
9 Convenience stores, as the name suggests, are stores that carry basic necessities such as bread, milk, eggs, soft drinks, tooth paste, newspapers, magazines, and so on. They are usually conveniently located (in small towns, suburbs, and big cities) which also accounts for the name.
10 In bulk is a shopping-related idiom that is used to refer to items purchased in large quantities. Such supplies are cheaper and last longer. Generally, families shop in bulk for items such as sugar, rice, candy, canned products, etc. However, perishable products (such as vegetables) are rarely purchased in bulk. Instead, they are usually purchased on a daily or weekly basis. Specialized stores are stores that sell particular things. In other words, they specialize in the sale of particular products (e.g., grocery stores sell groceries, hardware stores sell hardware products such as nuts and bolts, paint, nails, hammers, etc.)
11 Specials refer to discount deals/prices. In Conversation A, they refer to discount video rental rates.
12 A buck each refers to a dollar per item in question (video tapes in Conversation A)
13 A shopping list is a handy list of items a shopper intends to buy. Most Americans draw up shopping lists before they go shopping. Such a list makes shopping easier, as the shopper consults it while shopping, and that way, does not forget to buy what s/he needs.
Exercise A: Practicing Useful Shopping-Related Expressions
Instructions: Carefully read the following mini-conversations and, for each, construct a sentence that restates the speaker's words, using any of the shopping-related words or expressions used in Conversation A and defined above. Suggested answers are provided at the end of this lesson. However, you are advised not to consult them until you have attempted the exercise.
1. Tom: If I had shopped around first before I bought my VCR, perhaps I wouldn't have been cheated.
2. Nancy: Jewel's got a buy-one-get-one-free sale on Florida oranges and cantaloupes. Isn't that great? We need to stock up.
3. Greg: Don't you think the prices at Saks Fifth Avenue are somewhat unreasonable? Imagine buying an ordinary T-shirt for 50 bucks! I'd prefer to keep it at a museum.
4. Anna: I always buy my cheese at Strawberry fields. You can find any kind of cheese there. Yup. You name it and it's there.
5. Kim: I'll go in and ask them whether they have milk in the store.
6. Shiho: It's time to go shopping, Dan. Don't forget the list on which you wrote what you'd like to buy.
Exercise B: What Kind of Store?
Instructions: Read each mini-dialog and specify where it is taking place. In other words, is it in a department store, a bookstore, a supermarket or grocery store, an appliance store, a shoe store, a drive-in fast food restaurant, or a movie theater box office?
1. Sean: Two for A Walk in the Clouds, please.
Agent: Eleven dollars. Okay. Here are your tickets, and here's your change.
Sean: Thank you.
2.Cashier: Can I take your order?
John: Yes, please. Could I have a cheese burger, a small order of fries, and a large Diet Pepsi.
Cashier: Will that be all, Sir?
John: Actually, make that a large order of fries.
Cashier: Okay, coming right up. Anything else?
John: No. Thanks.
John: Yes, please.
Cashier: That will be $ 5:30. Your order will be ready at the next window.
3. Anna: Excuse me, please. I'd like to know whether a book that I'd ordered has come in.
Agent: One moment please. Let me move over to a computer. What's your last name?
Agent: Okay. Yes, it's in. It arrived this morning, and it should be on the shelf, under Psychology. That's in aisle 10 downstairs.
Agent: You're welcome. All books with red dots on them are on sale today.
Anna: Great! Perhaps I'll buy some.
Agent: do so. We don't have such sales that often.
4. Salesperson: How are you today, Ma'am?
Lydia: Fine, thank you. I'm looking for a pair of white shoes. Do you have any others apart from those on display?
Salesperson: Let me check? In what size?
Lydia: Seven and a half, please.
Salesperson: I'll be right back.
5. Mark: Excuse me, please. Just a quick question. Where's the men's department?
Salesperson: On the fourth floor, Sir.
Mark: And Customer Service?
Salesperson: In the basement.
Mark: Thank you.
6. Cashier: Hello. I'll ring these up for you in a minute. I just need to do a quick price check on the Pepperidge crackers.
Bella: It's a buy-one-get-one free sale but I don't remember the exact price.
Cashier: We'll know soon. Ah! Here comes Rich.
Rich: They're two-for-one at $2:50.
Cashier: Thanks, Rich. How would you like to pay for these Ma'am? Cash, check, or charge?
Bella: I'll use my Discover card.
Cashier: Okay. Would you like a cash advance?
Anna: What's that?
Cashier: Well, it simply allows you to withdraw money, like an ATM card, except that you don't have to pay any interest for it.
Cashier: Could you please hit the green button once you agree with the total price.
Rich:How would you like them bagged, Ma'am? Plastic or paper ?
Anna: Paper, please. The paper bags make handy trash bags.
Cashier: That's right! Sign next to the "X", please.
Conversation B (At the mall)
Anna: Here we are, guys, I'm going to stop by Bergner's first. I might just get lucky today. Who knows, some of their dresses might be on SALE.
Will: It's a fairly well-known department store. Sort of like Penny's. They've got some quality stuff. Wanna check it out?
Masahiro: Why not.
Anna: I need to get something for Lisa's birthday. She's into name brands. Any suggestions?
Will: A Gucci handbag or Calvin Klein T-shirt might be nice. Designer perfume is another option. Which reminds me! I have a 15% discount coupon for Lerner's and Penny's. I hardly ever shop at Lerner's, as I'm not that big on women's clothing. And I rarely shop at Penny's, so go ahead and use the coupons if you can. Here they are (handing them over).
Anna: Thanks a lot, Will. That's really very thoughtful of you.
Will: My pleasure, Ma'am!
Anna: Oh no! I was supposed to give Liz a buzz an hour ago! Hope I have a quarter (checks her purse).
Will: Need a nickle?
Anna: Actually, I don't have anything but pennies in change. Does any of you have a dollar in change?
Masahiro: Sorry, I don't, but I do have 35 cents on me. Will that be okay for the phone call?
Anna: Great! I really appreciate it. I'll make it quick. Do you guys want to go ahead?
Masahiro: We'll wait.
Will: Just don't forget us.
Anna: I won't. Why don't we just meet here in 30 minutes?
Will: Sounds good. I guess I'll just look around.
Salesperson: Can I help you, Sir?
Will: No thanks, I'm just looking. Well, just out of curiosity, how much is that necklace?
Salesperson: Twenty-nine, ninty nine.
Will: Really! My sister's birthday is tomorrow. She loves jewellry. I just wasn't sure I could afford it.
Saleperson: You'll find that a lot of our stuff is amazingly affordable.
Will: Well, that's certainly nice to know. I'll take it.
Saleperson: It's a good choice. I'm sure she'll love it.
Will: Let's hope so.
Salesperson: Cash or charge, Sir?
Will: Charge, please. Do you accept Discover?
Salesperson: Yes, we do.
Salesperson: That comes to thirty one, ninty-nine with tax (handing him the charge sheet). Please sign next to the "X."
[Meanwhile, in another section of the store]
Salesperson: Do you need some help, Sir?
Masahiro: Well, I'm looking for . . . let's see. I've forgotten the name again! It's used to make fresh coffee.
Salesperson: A coffee maker?
Masahiro: That's right.
Salesperson: Well, we have a few in kitchenware, which is upstairs.
Masahiro: Thank you.
Salesperson: You're welcome.
Anna: Oh, there you are, Masa! What did you get?
Masahiro: Just a simple coffee maker.
Anna: Good choice. And you, Will? Find anything interesting?
Will: A necklace for Stephanie's birthday.
Anna: Lucky her!
Will: Did you get anything?
Anna: Just a couple of silly earrings that I liked. I hope I wear 'em! I did a lot of window shopping.
Will: That can't hurt.
Anna: True. Well, do you guys need anything else from this place?
Masa: One last thing. Oh no! I've forgotten what you call it?
Will: Just describe it and we'll probably figure out what it's called.
Masa: It's a crystal container for flowers with long stems. I need to get one for my Mom.
Anna: Oh! A VASE!
Masa: That's it!
Anna: They should have a bunch in giftware.
Will: Let's go get one.
Anna: I'm going to have to stop by Jewel on my way home. Is that okay with you guys? I'm almost completely out of groceries.
Will: No problems. I could pick up a couple of things, too.
New Words and Expressions
1. Items that are "on SALE" are sold at discount prices. In other wirds, thay are cheaper than they were originally. Usually, they are available at a percentage off the original price.
2. Name brands refer to well-known, designer items such as Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren products. They are usually expensive, because they are associated with both quality and name.
3. To be big on something means that you really like the item in question.
4. A dollar in change is a commonly used expression that literally refers to coins (quarters, dimes, and/or nickels) that together, make up a dollar.
5.I'm just looking is a very common shopping-related expression, which indicates a shopper's desire to be left alone (i.e., not bothered by salespersons) to merely look around, and not necessarily for anything in particular.
6. Just out of curiosity is another frequently used expression which literally means that the shopper is just interested in knowing something specific about an item, such as its price, make, etc., before s/he decides whether or not to purchase it.
7. An item that is affordable can be bought.
8. "Cash or charge?" is a question commonly asked by cashiers when they wish to know whether the customer wishes to pay with cash, or a credit card.
9. Discover is a well-known credit card.
10. In most states in America, a sales tax (8 to 10%) is added to the price of every item purchased. In the state of Illinois, the sales tax is anywhere from 7.25% to 8%. Take a look at the receipt provided below. The sales tax is underlined on the receipt. A receipt is a small sheet of paper that spells out the details of a monetary transaction (e.g., the price of each individual item, purchased with or without a coupon, the sales tax imposed, and the total amount paid by the buyer). It is a good idea to keep all receipts in a safe place, so that if you'd like to return an item, you can do so. Most Department stores in America allow shoppers to return items (except for food items) within a period of 30 days after the date of purchase. During this time, you have the option of either exchanging an item for another similar or similarly priced item or returning it altogether and getting your money back. States in which no sales tax is imposed on purchases include New York and Oregon. Such states are therefore said to be good for major shopping (i.e., large scale shopping).
11. Find anything interesting? is a commonly asked informal question (in which the subject is understood from the shopping context). Through this question, the speaker inquires whether the hearer/ addressee bought anything from the store or liked something in particular (even if s/he did not purchase it).
12. Window shopping refers to the idea of looking at display items and other items without specifically intending to buy anything right away.
13. Giftware refers to that section of a Department store that carries gift items. The names of virtually every section or department of a Department store generally end in the suffix -ware which simply refers to a sale item. Therefore, kitchenware refers to that section of a Department store that carries crockery and other items typically found in the kitchen. Now it should be easy for you to figure out what (wares) different sections of a store carry. Visit the Department store nearest you and see for yourself!
14. Jewel is a well known grocery store.
15. Pick up is a commonly used shopping related expression which simply refers to the idea of getting/ buying something from the store (e.g., Will: Let's go pick up some milk from the corner store).
Conversation C. Complaining about Some Purchases
[Three weeks after Anna, Will, and Masahiro went to the mall]
Anna: Hi Masahiro! How's it going?
Masahiro: Fine, I guess. How about you?
Anna: Busy. Guess who's coming our way?
Will: Hi guys! What's up?
Anna: Nothing much. We just ran into each other.
Will: That's nice. So Masahiro, how's the coffee maker working?
Masahiro: Actually, it doesn't work well. It was a waste of money. I guess I should have shopped around for a good one.
Anna: Why don't you take it back?
Masahiro: I'd like to, but I've misplaced the receipt.
Will: Well, if it's any consolation, my shopping wasn't all that great either. I wish I'd never bought Stephanie a necklace. Just last night she was telling me how she wished she had Liz Taylor's new perfume.
Anna: That makes three displeased shoppers. Guess what? The camera I bought and shipped to Mike just this morning is now on sale! It's a pity that I bought it then. Then again, I guess I shouldn't complain. It was a good buy, even though I didn't get the best deal on it. Anyway, Masahiro, I suggest you look for that receipt and just go to the Complaints Department and say "I'd like to exchange this, please." It's as simple as that. And Will, it's not too late for you to ask for a refund.
New Words and Expressions
1. I regret buying. . . is a very frequently employed shopping-related expression used to refer to purchases a shopper is not happy with.
2. Why don't you take it back? is a commonly asked question that usually serves as a suggestive response to a shopper's complaint about a purchase. By asking this question, the speaker urges the hearer to return the item s/he is clearly not satisfied with.
3. I wish I'd never bought . . . is another commonly used expression of complaint.
4. A good buy is used to refer to a purchase that the shopper is very pleased with--usually a great/discount deal.
5. The best deal refers to the cheapest and most satisfying purchase price.
6. The Complaints Department, as the name suggests, is the section of the store that takes Customer complaints and grants requests for refunds, requests to exchange items, and so on.
7. A refund simply refers to the money paid for an item returned to a store. This money is given back to the shopper.