Why I don’t shop in Bahrain anymore

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It has been a long time since I visited any of the big shopping malls in Bahrain. And today I was reminded once again why I haven’t done so all this time. You see, I happen to travel a lot and get informed on the latest fashion, products and/or prices. I always look for the best quality and price and I value customer service relationships a great deal. I talk with shops’ representatives all around the world and I have gained their trust and respect as they have gained mine.
Unfortunately, except for a couple of businesses, this is not the case with Bahrain. The last few years the products’ selection is minimal and in fashion it happens that all you can find on the shelves is last year’s stock often with a “New Collection” price tag. Few months ago my friend bought a pair of Valentino pumps at 50% off, a 50% off that was actually the original price in any of the big online shops. I was surprised when once I went to Saks to buy a pair of jeans and they only had to show me TWO (yes only TWO!) brand codes. I have quit long time ago shopping clothes for my kids in Bahrain since the day I discovered the US prices were instantly transformed into BD, tripling them compared to the US: Bye Bye Tommy Hilfiger, Juicy Couture, GAP, see you online or when i visit the US.
Other times you may find newly released electronic gadgets are insanely expensive, like when the new iPhone 5s was introduced and the golden colored one cost 150 dinars more than its silver version in a non Apple-approved shop in City Center. Or you may find that the expensive watch (i.e. Cartier) you intend to buy as tax-free (supposedly there is no tax in Bahrain, right?) costs more than in any other decent jewelry shop in Europe where a generous tax is imposed…  And let us not talk about the prices in the supermarket or the trick of “.. oh sorry! the price has changed and the tag is still not updated” if you ever spot the difference.
So what’s going on?
Profiteering to the point of disgust.
Ok. I can understand that the market of Bahrain, being it small, cannot absorb the aftershock of a global financial crisis thus the limited variety in their imports. Businesses are afraid to be exposed and they have right. What I don’t understand is their obsession of profiteering even in such market conditions when their actions can only guarantee further loss in the long run. Let me explain.
This morning I went to i-Machines to look for an original iPad case for my son. My jaw dropped when I saw the price, especially since I had checked before with Apple Store in the US:
Bahrain price: 50 Dinars meaning approx. 133 dollars with today’s rate according to xe.com.
How much does the exact same case cost in Apple store?
US price: 79 Dollars. YES 79 Dollars.
Do the math yourself adding boldly the shipping cost to Bahrain (that’s what they always provide as an excuse for the high prices, they cannot blame “taxes”cause there is supposedly a free-trade agreement between US and Bahrain) and you see there’s still a big price difference. You don’t have to be a genius to figure it out. The same profit margin seems to apply for another couple of items I checked  with the store (mini iPad, earphones etc).
Needless to say I left the store empty handed. Then I thought I might check for a mascara. During my recent trip to Greece I forgot to buy my mascara from the beauty store and didn’t have the time to get it from Athens airport too so I thought I will get it in Bahrain. Ha. Wrong.
I went to Debenhams and asked for my usual Yves Saint Laurent one (Baby Doll). The lady told me it was 21 BD. I wasn’t sure how much I had paid for the exact same mascara in Athens before – certainly much less- but as I needed it now I thought ok, I will get it. So I took it to the cashier where I was asked 22 bd. I told the cashier that the sales lady told me 21 and then I showed her the tag on the mascara packaging clearly stating 21 bd. She told me she was sorry but in her system the price was 22 bd. Once again I left empty handed and my issue was certainly not the 1 bd increase from the sale point to the cashier…
By the way 22 BD = 58,3  USD, 53,48 Euros or 41,17 GBP with again today’s rates from xe.com.
Soon after I came back home I double checked the price of the mascara:  32 Dollars in the US, 25 Euros in Greece, 25 Pounds in the UK.
Honestly I can’t think of a reason why a mascara would cost DOUBLE its price in Bahrain.
What these local businesses don’t get is the fact that consumers in today’s world KNOW and if they don’t know, they certainly have the way to FIND OUT. Almost every consumer has access to the internet today. Big brands with international presence usually apply a universal price with small -if not tiny- fluctuations that reflect any taxes/dues or shipping costs. Anything way above this “universal” price is a rip-off and I certainly don’t want to be passed for a fool. So what can you do?
  1. Be an informed consumer rather than a compulsive one. If you find something you really like in a shop in Bahrain check its price online yourself or have someone else check for you.
  2. Except for items considered “dangerous”, most of your finds in Bahrain can be shipped from online shops abroad straight to your door. In fact there are few shops that offer free express shipping and shops that even deduct the VAT when shipping to Bahrain from Europe. Others include any dues in your total so you don’t have to pay anything for customs’ clearance in Bahrain.
  3. Shipping from US is tax free and there should be no import dues in Bahrain. Unfortunately this does not apply for shipments from Europe. There is a minimum amount set by the customs authorities and when exceeded there are dues based on the cargo type charged to the receiver. (I have tried to find what this minimum is with no success so far, it’s up to the customs’ officer interpretation of the law I guess – sorry for being sarcastic!)
  4. When the online shop doesn’t provide shipping outside of their country you can open an Aramex Shop and Ship account, have your items shipped to your mailbox in the US, UK or any of the big shopping hubs where Aramex provides service and then have your items shipped at a fee to your door. It’s not cheap but it can be proven cheaper than buying your find in Bahrain. Mind you that Aramex recently updated its policy to include the shipping of perfumes in their service. With regards to a mailbox service abroad I personally prefer Borderlinx mainly because of it’s association with DHL who are superfast but also because they offer free repacking of multiple shipments into one to cut-off the shipping cost. Additionally with their concierge service they can buy for you in shops that do not accept foreign credit cards.
  5. If you don’t feel like doing any of these yourself but still want to shop without being ripped off, appoint someone to do them for you. At a small fee a personal shopper can help you with all your needs however small or big and save you time and money. You can email your inquiries: idol@mail.com.
I’m all ears for your stories of shopping horror!
Update1: Please check my comment below as some people seem to have been annoyed by this article.
Update2: In my recent trip to Dubai I have checked the price for the mascara both in Bahrain airport and Sephora Dubai. The price is around 16 BD so Debenhams is more expensive by a whole 6 dinars (aprox. 15 USD/
EUR). Just for one mascara.

Xmas Gift List

Christmas is around the corner but there’s still time for last-minute shopping! Enjoy our gift list and get inspired..

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From Top left to bottom right:
Nerf Gun, Crosley X UO Cruiser Briefcase Portable Vinyl Record Player, Bellroy Note Sleeve wallet, I love your Style book by Amanda Brooks, Gift Boutique – Heart Light Sign, Vince Coleton Suede over-the-knee boots, Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Camera, La Vie Boheme Yoga mat, Proenza Schouler PS1 bag, Magical Thinking Elephant Stamp Catch-All Dish, American Girl Doll Isabelle.
Still not sure what to get for your loved ones? Simply contact us and we will take care of it…

Taylor says: legs for days

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This gal did it again. She made me fall in love with her new collection “Legs for days” and I ‘m going to get in trouble spending money on shoes I don’t actually need (Aren’t 79 pairs more than enough? Or should I round the number?)

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If you are a shoe lover (or addict like me) and haven’t yet seen Taylor Reeve’s one of a kind collections, then you are missing a lot. Because the “crazy blondie from South California” is a genius who touches our soles (and souls) with her magic brush in order to create masterpieces on which we can step elegantly. Red signature soles are ok, but what’s even better is funky art on your soles that will buzz WOWs all around you! Convinced? Then you should definitely visit Taylor Says.

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As for my favorite pair? KA BOOM!!! I’m sooooo buying them!

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Ring Collection

Hello girlies,

I have bought few rings recently and thought of posting a picture, along with some of my old purchases.

I love big rings in all shapes, design & colour. And I wear a lot of rings day to day basis. Accessories instantly update and make my outfits more interesting.

Most of these rings are fromImage, H&M, Penny’s, Mango, Topshop and few of them are from street markets of Ibiza.

I have a small collection of silver rings. Will post a picture for you later on.

Love,

Dona Lawlor

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Bio-Oil it away!!!!

As a result of having my 3 gorgeous babies, my tummy was left with some stretch marks, which I was very conscious of.

Though Bio-Oil  has been in the market since 2002 and  I had heard about it, I only bought it few years ago while I was on holiday in Dublin, during one of my many shopping trips to Pavilion Shopping Centre in Swords.

I tried it and it made my skin feel soft. I have been using it for few years now and my stretch marks have definitely started to look  better.

DSC04170Bio Oil is no ordinary oil, it has positioned itself well amongst body creams to be the best to reduce the appearance of all scars both old and new.  It helps to maintain the elasticity of the skin while preventing stretch marks from developing when our body goes through changes like pregnancy, weight loss etc.  Bio Oil also banish dryness, smoothes, firms and nourishes aging and wrinkled skin. 

 It’s worth investing your money on this one.

Love

Dona Lawlor

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So gorgeous…………….

zara shoes

Go from day to night with these gorgeous beauties. It’s got the perfect heel, sexy yet sophisticated and they were on for a bargain @ Zara sale.

I personally think there is something so sexy about a woman in a skinny heel stiletto….

Luv

Dona Lawlor

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Dreamcatcher

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A bargain buy…these earrings will instantly glamorize your Boho Chic look.

To let these beauties shine, I paired them with a simply floaty top, black leggins and  few turquoise bracelets.

Hubby picked them up for me last week in Ireland in Penneys.

Luv

Dona Lawlor xxxxxx

L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream

The Secret to Gorgeous Hands!!

Without a doubt the best hand cream I have used. I say this without any hesitation having tried many hand creams. As I have been pic 1using this product for over four years, I think I can speak honestly about it. I have occasionally wandered to other brands but I always seem to go back to this one.

A super-smoothing cream, contains 20% Shea Butter, honey and sweet almond extract, blended with jasmine and ylang-ylang essences. Smells divine and it glides on and absorbs to help heal and protect dry and dehydrated skin, and anti-oxidising vitamin E helps nourish.

I initially bought the small tube of this while transiting through Dubai Airport (they also do large tubes) so that I could try it. And I love it! The tube is just the right size to carry in my bag so that I can use it whenever I need to and you don’t need to use very much of it. L’occitane is a well known luxury brand and have a great reputation for their creams and moisturisers.

Anyone who suffers with dry hands should give this a try!

Luv

Dona Lawlor

Two of my favorite MAC primers

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Primer is used to create a flawless/smooth base for your make up. It is used underneath foundation to hold your make-up last longer and they blot away any excess oil on the skin. 

MAC PREP + PRIME Face Protect SPF 50

The reason I bought this product is, it has the highest SPF that I have found for the face on the market. And it also works as a good make-up base. This is my go to primer for the day and I have been using it every single day for over 2 years now. Few years ago, I had quite a few brown spots caused by the sun and infact I haven’t developed any since I started using this and my skin looks much clearer.

It  may feel a bit greasy at first but I think it soon sinks in, and is definitely worth it. Only use a little bit at once as it does take a lot of rubbing on to the skin, as it comes out very white. Only downfall in my opinion is, it can be quite wasteful. The tube is very hard to squeeze and I’m sure there will be lots of product left inside the tube when I think it’s all gone.

MAC PREP + PRIME SKIN BASE VISAGE

It  is very silky and feels light. I only use a tiny pea sized amount to cover my whole face. You cannot tell that the product is on your skin when it is rubbed in well.  After doing so, I apply my foundation which goes on smoothly and appears extremely flawless. The primer has small light reflecting particles in it which makes your skin look very radiant and healthy. 

 So there you go girls, if you have used or currently using above primers or any other primers, leave us your comments.

Dona Lawlor

Red, Red Wine… Apivita will quench your skin’s thirst

Throughout my adult life, I have been spending a lot on face, eye and body creams from expensive brands, even if knowing that the miracle results that they’d promise wouldn’t be all that “miraculous”. Unfortunately there exists this perception that the higher you will be paying for a product and the nicer the packaging is, the more value you will be getting for your money. We all fall for it, and we all know that this is not necessarily true.

Sure, a lot of factors play out when we choose a brand or a product and alluring marketing has a lot to do with our choice. But I insist and always urge my friends and clients before they buy anything to first check the reviews online and try it on them before spending a little fortune on that latest buzz. High-end brands always offer samples which you can get from any beauty shop to have a first hand experience on their latest products.  To ask for one before you buy the whole jar is common sense and wise spending. How many times did the $$$ beauty “serum” ended up collecting dust on the bathroom shelf simply because it’s just not what you wished for?

What would always puzzle me though, both in high-end and supermarket shelf brands, are all these ingredients written in fine lines, and my worry lies with the fact that even if I can (or better try to as they have these long names) read them, I don’t know what their effects are on my skin and overall health (if you want to know what chemicals your product contains visit http://www.cosmetic-ingredients.net/ who’s done an excellent database on many brands). Hazardous chemical substances have been traced in lipsticks and creams and chemicals found in cosmetics have been accused for various conditions.

Anyways, I have the tendency to a more holistic approach in life and same way I am checking every food item I intend to bring home and feed my children, I now choose cosmetics after I have done a little “homework” on their ingredients… Besides you might have heard of the saying “you should never put on your face what you wouldn’t put in your mouth”.

This is how I ended up trying APIVITA a Greek company since 1979 that produces natural and highly effective beauty products. I have been buying their kids’ line and am quite happy, so during my last visit in Greece I did my usual shopping raid at the pharmacy to be supplied with all the products I can’t find in Bahrain and bumped on to their latest face cream: Wine Elixir.

I was curious. I surely love a glass of red wine once in a while for its relaxing properties but put some on my face? That’s interesting. I was given some samples the same day of the SPF15 day cream and went straight home to try it. Very light in texture and smell,  giving a cooling sensation on the face, it was absorbed in seconds. Upon application, my skin literally gulped the wine elixir and felt moisturized without being oily or even shiny.

Needless to say after 4-5 days the samples were running out so I went to the pharmacy and bought the night cream and eye and lips cream of the same line. The night cream although slightly thicker in texture than the day cream gives the same feeling of fresh and nourishment without being oily or heavy on the face. It also contains salicylic acid which does a gentle exfoliation and which we have seen in other high-end brands’ expensive serums. It is absorbed really quickly and you can immediately see the difference in the skin’s elasticity and tone. Skin feels totally moisturized and looks amazing. The claims of this product from the company’s website:

93% natural ingredients
  • Rejuvenates the skin at night while reducing even the deepest wrinkles
  • Red wine helps increase quality collagen and elastin to firm the skin
  • Salicylic acid gently exfoliates the skin and leaves it with a natural glow
  • Beeswax moisturizes and smoothes skin
  • Neroli, patchouli, clary sage and geranium essential oils tone the skin and provide a sense of well-being

Exclusive innovation: APIVITA replaces water in the wine elixir range with a green tea infusion to enhance the antioxidant action of the products

Same with the eye and lips cream: it gives the same cooling sensation making any fatigue signs disappear from my eyes, any fine lines around them less visible, and my lips highly kissable!

I don’t have any serious deep lines to confirm their first claim, but surely my skin feels and looks perfect for the couple of weeks I have been using the cream and I got addicted to my night skin routine I once used to skip, because of them.

But most important: their products are Free of: Parabens, Silicone, Propylene Glycol, Mineral Oil, Ethanolamine and Phthalates.

You may also check their online Beauty Advisor for a personal evaluation.

So, are you having a glass of APIVITA wine elixir with me? Maybe on my next visit I could bring you some! If interested, email me at idol@mail.com

Cheers !