Check for clarinet or flute air leaks by taking the instrument apart, cupping the ends of the instrument, closing all finger and pad openings, and blowing air through. The instrument’s pads and springs should resist heavy air flow. If you feel or hear even the slightest of leaks and are not sure, have a friend help you by putting their hand away from your clarinet and feeling.
Before you venture into a shopping center, make a list with two categories: Things you need and things you want. This will help you sort out your priorities. Vow to yourself that you won't buy something you want at the expense of something you need.
Put yourself in a good mood. None of the employees in the stores want to deal with anyone in a bad mood. You'll get much further being pleasant while requesting help or looking for an item. Remember this even when you call stores for an item. No one wants to be yelled at by a perfect stranger while they're doing their best to do a good job!
Do some preliminary research. Find the approximate price of the desired items to make sure you are getting a good deal, and also locate the stores where these items are being sold. The Internet is always a good place to start. Write the lowest price you found next to the item on your list. That way, you'll have more options, especially if you find yourself coming dangerously close to the limits of your...
Budget. Decide how much money you'll allow yourself to spend. If possible, leave all your credit cards at home and withdraw enough cash from the bank to support your grueling day of shopping. When you're dealing with cold, hard cash, it's harder to go over your budget. However, it may be a good idea to keep one credit or ATM card with you in case of an emergency (emergency pairs of shoes or boxes of chocolates don't count!) but put a note on it that says "Use ONLY in case of a real emergency!"
Pack a bag or purse the night before that include your list, a map, a water bottle, some snacks, some emergency cash, a credit card and ATM card, a cell phone or coins for a pay phone or a phone card, and a positive attitude! It is better to be more prepared than to be left in an unsafe/undesirable situation. Also, keep in mind that you might not be able to bring your tote into the store, so make sure you keep valuables (money, phone card, etc.) in a safe, next-to-body layer. This will additionally help prevent theft.
Plot out your plan of action on the map. Figure out the most efficient course and stick to it.
Try everything on. It is better to spend more time in a store initially than to be unsatisfied with what you buy and return later to wait on the Customer Service line. Fully inspect all items before you try them on for safety and sanitary reasons.
If you are purchasing many items, inquire ahead of time about locker rentals at the mall. You don't want to slog around like a luggage-laden wanderer at an airport.
Reward yourself with an ice-cold beverage at the end. You've had a long and busy day, and you deserve it!