Aug. 6—DENNIS — James Lewis is always looking for a deal.
But he's not buying things just for the sake of buying — he only gets what he needs, but he never, ever pays full price. And his bargain-hunting ways have him a prestigious designation: the nation's biggest cheapskate.
The "America's Biggest Cheapskate" contest is sponsored by Ollie's, the nation's largest retailer of closeout merchandise and excess inventory. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the retailer is the perfect vehicle for Lewis, who was introduced to Ollie's about seven years ago.
"I was already saving hundreds of dollars a year; had I known about Ollie's earlier, I could have been saving thousands," he said.
To enter the nationwide contest, entrants had to submit an original response describing how they save money, their best money-saving hacks and why they believe they're worthy of the title "America's Biggest Cheapskate." All entrants also had to visit an Ollie's store and submit a photo from their visit.
Ollie's has selected the 10 finalists, and nine will receive a $400 Ollie's gift card; the grand prize winner will receive $4,040 cash, and the winner will be announced next week.
James hopes he wins the title of "America's Biggest Cheapskate," but even if he doesn't he won't change his buying habits.
"I think being called a 'cheapskate' is a badge of honor," he said. "I'm trying to save money and I'm not buying a bunch of junk. It's good quality stuff when I do it. I'm not going to get a pile of stuff I won't use."
And while "cheapskate" is an acceptable term, Lewis said "frugal" may be a little better on the ears. Either way, the bottom line is the bottom line.
"I think we should be frugal in all aspects of life — whether it's our time, talent or treasure," he said.
Lewis doesn't buy anything without having first researched what he's needing to buy. He'll look first on the internet to find the best deals. He won't jump at the first thing he sees, however, choosing to dig a little deeper.
Of course he frequents thrift stores and flea markets as well.
"I'll still offer a lower price for something even though I know they're already low," he said. "I think a lot of people are wasteful these days, and it's like a throwaway generation. But if I see something really good and I can really use or know somebody that can really use it, I'll ask for it."
Lewis lives by a code:
"It's really simple," he said. "I just like like good things cheap."