Ssh! Don’t Tell Anyone I’m Here! Members Only Shopping Sites – You Like?

Hey Skint pals,

Do you belong to any private members clubs? Traditionally, if you thought about such, you no doubt thought of gentleman’s clubs no doubt, all wing-backed leather chairs, hushed tones and pass the port.

These days though, private members clubs are just as likely to mean online ventures and the velvet ropes that signify membership might take the form of an email sign-up, or getting a reference from an existing online member.

I’ve seen a lot of TV adverts lately for various online shopping sites that require membership approval and it got me wondering why. Why, when so much of the web is available to us all at a click, do we still hanker after sites that require sign-ups or approval? What in us wants to belong to clubs, tribes and gangs? 

I guess there must be something that appeals to our vanity.  Though we all know that Groucho Marx quote about not wanting to belong to any club who would have him as a member, for most of us it’s still appealing to say that we’re part of an exclusive band. I suspect it’s also about not wanting to miss out. 

members only shopping sites bianca jagger

Bianca Jagger riding into Studio 54 nightclub on a white horse on her 30th birthday. I couldn’t even sneak a hamster past the door security . . .


The online shopping sites typically hold a range of flash sales, offering brilliant discounts but only for short periods of time. So, if you want to grab the latest bargains, which might be on anything from vintage wall art to fluffy towels, you need to act fast. Ain’t nothing like a big ticking clock counting down the seconds to hurry you into a random purchase.

I’ve written before about Achica, and I’ve seen it on TV recently, making much of its exclusive status. More recent members-only sites include the online department store,  hushhush, which features savings on homeware, fashion and so on. In the interests of research, I just logged onto hushhush and ended up not only signing up (well, you have to in order to check it out), but also buying a poster. Gullible huh? Only £7 though and will look the business framed in Baby Skint’s room.

It’s not just homeware and fashion that the members only sites offer, there’s also been an ad on TV just now too for secret escapes, which advertises huge discount on luxury travel – if you sign up. It’s another sites that makes much of its exclusive status – the advert’s all whispers and winks, even though it’s broadcasting to the nation every night on primetime. I think these members-only sites pique the curiosity too. You can only get so far without having to input your email address and so you do – just to see what lies behind. 

Though none of these online shopping sites will ever deny you entry as far as I know, the concept of members-only clubs always makes me think of the people who get turned away and why they do. Then these examples came to me:

  • Lady Gaga tried to show a TV interviewer her old apartment, but it’s new owner refused to let her in – all caught on camera! 
  • Carrie Bradshaw in SATC couldn’t get a table at a posh new restaurant and had to join a wait list. She decided to have a drink at the bar – and discovered there was a wait list for that too . . . ‘There’s a wait to wait?’ she asks.
  • Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman trying to buy clothes from a Beverley Hills store and being treated with disdain – till she returned all poshed up and found shop assistants falling over themselves to serve her.
  • Oprah Winfrey recently getting the Pretty Woman treatment in real life, from a store that reportedly wouldn’t let her see a handbag.

So, Skint pals, are you seduced by the ‘members-only’ tag? Does it imply any sort of quality control or make you want to be part of the gang? Do you think online members-only shopping sites with their flash sales and discounts save you cash or encourage you to spend more? ? I’d love to know! 

Skint xxx






About Skint in the City

Skint in the City provides stylish, practical tips and advice on how to live the high life on a shoestring budget.

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