Anthropologie for Less: A New Ongoing Feature

anthro logoNearly every woman I know makes the same sigh every time I mention the store Anthropolgie. In a single breath we all seem to say, “I want to be wearing one of their dresses while sitting on one of their settees while eating a fancy cupcake on one of their adorable dishes RIGHT NOW.”  The reason we all sigh instead of squeal with pleasure is because none of my friends are heiresses. That means that all any of us actually own from Anthropologie is some candles and a shirt from the clearance rack. The sigh expresses, “Oh, that store is so pretty and I want everything in it,” and then you remember your budget dictates you shop at Old Navy and IKEA.

Do you think if I was really quiet and cleaned up after myself, if they'd let me live in there?

Do you think if I was really quiet and cleaned up after myself, they’d let me live in there?

They say necessity is the mother of invention, but I say Anthropologie lust combined with cheapness is a pretty good motivator, too. Over the past few years, I’ve become more skilled at ferreting out the Anthropologie look at other, less expensive retailers. Sometimes I’ve been able to achieve an Anthropologie copy via a DIY project. Some of what makes Anthro so appealing is their homage to all things vintage, so occasionally the answer to getting what you want for less is just buying straight up vintage instead of Anthro’s high dollar vintage-esque. However, every so often there’s no copy, no way to make what they have for cheap, and you just have to save your pennies and buy the real deal. This new blog feature will help to you to figure out when to deploy each strategy, depending on which Anthropolgie product you’ve fallen in love with.

First up, to show you what I mean, I’ll demonstrate with something small and one of the first things that caught my eye at Anthro—their adorable measuring cups and spoons. The patterns change, but they always have something like this. Here’s some of their current offerings:

cups 2cups 1spoons 1spoons 2

The measuring cups range in price from $24 to $38 and the measuring spoons are $14 to $28. Now, these are one of the few things in Anthropologie a plebeian like myself can actually afford, so why not just buy them?

For one thing, I happen to know that you can get a plastic measuring spoon or cup set at Walmart in a variety of colors in their dollar bins. These are much prettier, but my brain has a really hard time purchasing something I know is WAY overpriced.

Secondly, I am an avid baker/cook who would actually use these measuring tools a lot, so I need them to be functional, too. Here’s where I run into my second problem. All of their measuring cup sets include a 1 cup, ½ cup, 1/3 cup, and ¼ cup. There’s no ¾ cup and no 2/3 cup. Yes, I can make those measurements happen with the cups provided and math, but it still annoys me. The other beef I have with their sets is they aren’t actually accurate. They are likely close enough for most baking, but it irks me to pay over $30 for a measuring set and for it not to do the job it purports to do.

These irritations, both financial and practical, sent me on a hunt to see if anyone else made cute measuring cups and spoons and maybe fixed the problems I had with the Anthro sets.

So, a ton of people make these things now. It must be a real money maker for Anthro, because there are plenty of copy cats. Pier 1 has a large selection, although some of them are only available online. They have some that are pretty and more traditionally like Anthro, but also have some darn cute ones, including a set of hedgehog ones that made me make the “Aww,” sound out loud. They’re cheaper, the cups costing between $9.95 to $19.95 and the spoons in the same range. That’s still a little steep, but you don’t quite feel like they stole from you AND slapped you. However, the problem still remains that there are only four cups per set, and they are the same ceramic with a fill line painted somewhere, so don’t hold your breath for accuracy.

Pier 1 Offerings:

lacy cupshedgie cupsowl spoonsflower spoons

World Market wins on price. Their spoon sets cost $3.99 to $12.99, and the $12.99 set is metal, and dare I hope, accurate. Their cups sets are only $12.99 and the reviews complain about the accuracy (as do Anthro reviews), but they do offer 2 extra sizes. The down side is they’re useless sizes (a tablespoon and the-oh-so-specific “pinch”).

World Market:

owl cups484394_MASON_JAR_MEASURING_CUPS_ver1floral spoonsvintage spoons

Modcloth.com, an online only retailer of many, many super cute things, has a couple cup sets, one at  $14.99 and the other at the Anthro price of 34.99. The spoons are a little steep, too, at $17.99 to $24.99, although they do have one plastic set at $6.99. Two of the spoon sets are made of wood, which while might it make them more accurate, it also means they are “hand wash recommend.”  Boo. However, their Matryoshka measuring cup set was my clear winner. Not only was it plastic (easy wash, less breakable, & more accurate), it included the elusive 2/3 and ¾ cups! Plus, I happen to find it super cute. I also found that Target.com sold a matching set of spoons for $6.99. Now why one retailer didn’t sell both the cups and spoons, I can’t tell you.

Modcloth:

cat cupsmat cupsgator spoonswood spoons

Ah, but wait! Further research revealed you can buy both the Matryoshka cups and spoons at Amazon.com, and the cups are $4 cheaper and available in red there. Amazon has a large selection of cute measuring cups and spoons, most easily found by searching for “ceramic measuring cups” or “ceramic measuring spoons” in Home and Kitchen. Because there are so many, the prices vary, too, some cups as little as $10 and others into the $40s. The same goes for the spoons.

Amazon:

bee cupsbird cupsspoons amazonspoons polka dot

A couple less traditional places you can try are Ebay.com and Etsy.com. On Ebay you can very, very rarely find Anthro measuring sets for less than you pay in the store. Most of Ebay’s listings are Anthro sets that have been discontinued and are going for as much as twice the original price.  However, a search for those same terms I listed for Amazon will yield a lot of interesting prospects starting as little as 99 cents. The same terms on Etsy.com will bring up a variety of very nice hand painted sets, although they usually cost MORE than Anthro.

Are you exhausted yet? I realize most people do not do this kind of price comparison and extensive researching into buying measuring cups and spoons. I’m weird. This is partly to show the lengths I go to even with small Anthropologie purchases and to demonstrate my strategy. As I continue in this series, we’ll be looking at some bigger ticket items, and I’m also happy to take requests if there’s an item you’ve been trying to find a cheaper alternative for. I’ll do my best.

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