It happens every year about now: shopping is between seasons.

A retail Twilight Zone, if you will.

Down coats smooshed in with last season’s graphic T-shirts. Fleece-lined boots lounging next to the last pair of size 6 sandals. Christmas, Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day decorations mixed together in the same bin, a festively garish salad of red and pink and green.

All of it leading to the best shopping word ever: clearance.

Sure, some of the stuff is … unusual. But, hey, maybe Great Aunt Edith really wants the 20-CD Arnold Schwarzenegger audio autobiography for her birthday. You don’t know!

Well. Unless you do actually know, in which case good for you for being aware of Great Aunt Edith’s taste in audiobooks. And, um, bodybuilders.

If you want something a little more standard, T-shirt deals abound. And sneakers. Energy drinks. Charm bracelets. All in the Auburn Mall.

Eager to know the wow from what-the-heck before you go?

That’s where Shopping Siren comes in.

* Claire’s

Wow!: English charm bracelet, $1

Adorable bracelet with tiny English-themed charms, including Big Ben, a red phone booth and the British flag. Well-worth every penny of its regular $9.50 price tag — and now you get to keep 850 of those worthy pennies.

What?: Smiling sushi earrings, $1

Regularly $7, these earrings are in the shape of sushi. Smiling sushi. With googly eyes. They’re just a little too creepy to be cute. Proof that some things aren’t worth even 100 pennies.

* GNC

Wow!: 5-Hour Energy six-pack, $4.24

Six-pack of 1.93-ounce pomegranate-flavored energy drinks. No original price tag on the box, but the GNC website sells it for $14.99. Score! Not sure how I feel about energy drinks or, for that matter, pomegranates, but I’m all for 72 percent off.

What?: QuickTrim Burn & Cleanse, $29.99

Fast-weight-loss product endorsed by Kim Kardashian. No original price tag here, either, but a quick Internet search found it for the same price or less at a number of retailers. Besides, you don’t need it. You’re awesome just the weigh you are.

* Books-A-Million

Wow!: “Say You’re One of Them” by Uwem Akpan, $3

An Oprah’s Book Club selection from 2009, this short story collection focuses on the wisdom and resiliency of children in the face of war, poverty, slavery and religious conflict. Regularly $14.99. Sure, it was first published six years ago, but books, unlike pomegranates, never go bad.

What?: “Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story” by Arnold Schwarzenegger, $9.97

The audiobook version of the bodybuilder-actor-politician’s autobiography. Twenty CDs representing 25 hours of reading by Stephen Lang (and a little by The Governator himself). It’s a deal, don’t get me wrong — the CD set regularly retails for $49.99. But unless you’re a big Arnold fan and you spend a lot of time in the car, I can’t see this getting much play. Though you’re sure to get some great arm muscles trading discs in and out.

* Super Shoes

Wow!: Skechers D’Lites Centennial women’s sneakers, size 6½, $9.97

Pretty gray and navy blue sneakers with pink trim — just the right balance of feminine and sporty. Regularly $54.99, these are a great deal for anyone who wears size 6½. Or, you know, European size 36½. Either one.

What?: Skechers women’s Keepsakes black snow boots, sizes 7 and 7½, $39.99

Suede-like outside with fur-like inside, these boots are cute-like. The problem: the right boot is size 7½ and the left boot is size 7. And the off-size, off-season discount is only $20 — not enough to justify the pinch of a boot that’s just a little too snug or tripping over a boot that’s a little too large. If you happen to have a bigger right foot than left, happen to need women’s snow boots in April and happen to have $40 to spare, go for it! The other 99.9 percent of us will be over here pouting.

* JCPenney

Wow!: Men’s graphic T-shirts, various sizes and styles, $2.97

A mix of fun, charming and subtle graphic Ts marked down from $15 to less than $3 — and just in time for spring. My favorite: a gray and green baseball-style Star Wars shirt with a picture of Yoda in sunglasses emblazoned across the front. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Yoda in shades.

What?: Christmas T-shirt, various sizes, 97 cents

Regularly $8, this black shirt is crisscrossed with a pattern of red, green and blue Christmas lights. Not gaudy enough? The texture looks and feels faux knit — think a T-shirt version of the ugly Christmas sweater. But worse. And months past Christmas. So hold on to your dollar and head to a different clearance rack. There are more than enough to choose from.

Cards are out (of the mall)

For sports fans who love Cards-R-N in the Auburn Mall, there’s good news and bad news.

Bad: The mom-and-pop shop that sells sports cards and sports-themed clothes and gifts is leaving the mall.

Good: It’s moving over to the Gridiron Restaurant and Sports Pub in Lewiston.

The store is expected to shut its doors in the mall by the end of the month and to reopen soon after. So don’t worry, you won’t have to wait too long to get your lucky Wally doll. Which is good, because Red Sox hitters and pitchers can only do so much, you know.

Shopping Siren’s true identity is protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who have no use for shoes unless they’re well-chewed) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].


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