I found a fantastic deal on mirrors at Target this weekend and they weren't even on sale proving the point that it doesn't have to be on sale to be a great deal. My find got me thinking about how I find my great deals, so today I thought I would share my tips for bargain hunting with you!
Here are just a few tips for scoring a great deal on things that you love!
Just because you see something you like at Pottery Barn or at a fancy boutique store doesn't mean it's the only one like it out there. You can find a lot of things that are either the same or extremely similar at another store for a fraction of the price. It might take some patience and diligence on your part, but it is most likely out there!
The mirrors I wanted from Pottery Barn = $150 for the set of 3:
The mirrors I found at Target = $29.99 for the set of 3:
Awesome deal, right?!
Always, Always Look at the Clearance Section
The clearance section of any store gets picked over quickly, but you should always check it out every time you're at the store because today might be your lucky day when you arrive in time for a fresh markdown! If you go to a store frequently enough, you'll get to know when they put new merchandise on clearance and then you can plan to shop on those days. Even if you never figure out their system, frequently stopping by the clearance aisle is bound to pay off eventually.
Be a Frequent Shopper
No matter where you go, the best way to find a bargain is to shop at the store or online often -- at least weekly. I have found more things at deep discounts by simply visiting frequently. (Obviously, you have to practice some restraint when shopping places often, but frequent shopping affords you more opportunities to find better deals.)
When I first saw the arched window that is now on my mantel it was $300 at Wisteria. After practicing some patience and doing a lot of frequent checking I saw it online one day and discovered it was on sale - SCORE!
Do Your Homework, Don't Be Shy and ASK Questions!!
Most of us know that we'll find good prices at places like Home Goods, Target, garage sales, etc. But it's also important to know that equally good and sometimes even better bargains can be found at our favorite expensive stores, as well.
I've already pointed out my love of the clearance section but don't be afraid to dig through piles to see what's at the bottom. If you see something similar to what you're looking for ASK a sales person if there are any other sale items that are not on the floor yet. Sometimes the items are still being priced in the back and they just haven't put them out yet. It never hurts to ask!
You can also ask about getting a better price. Yes! You can do that! It doesn't always amount to a huge savings, but it is something. If something has a scratch or a few loose stitches you can almost always get 5 to 10 percent off just by asking the store manager. Sometimes they'll even give a discount on things that are already marked down.
Another question you should ask employees is if their store has a discount center or outlet. I discovered accidentally one day that a former Dillard's department store had been turned in to a Dillard's outlet. I found Ralph Lauren euro pillow shams for $15 each -- they had been $80 a piece!!
Know the Rules
When I was shopping at the Pottery Barn Outlet last year I was looking for a new dining room table. I found one that I had been admiring online but I knew I needed to talk to my husband first. After calling him and agreeing it was a go, I discovered someone had already claimed it -- they had taken the price tag to indicate it was already sold or on hold. What? You can do that?!
I discovered too late that if you want something that is too big to carry around with you at the outlet, you are supposed to take the tag with you to signal to other shoppers that the table is either sold or on hold. You get to have dibs on the item for the entire day even if you leave the store!
This fact was NOT posted anywhere in the store. You're just supposed to know it, apparently. Well, I missed out on the table but I learned an important bargain shopping lesson. Know the rules of the game! If you are going to a store where they carry large items like the Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware outlet, find out what their policy on holding items is. If I would have known sooner, I would have grabbed the tag before I called my husband.
Sometimes Store Hours Matter
At stores like the Pottery Barn Outlet, getting there first really matters. Case in point, the table I just mentioned. I arrived at PB as soon as the doors opened and within minutes, that table was spoken for. I would say this rule applies to stores like Home Goods as well. The store near me sells things quickly so I like to go there first thing in the morning after a night of re-stocking.
(Of course, this rule is also true for after Christmas sales and Black Friday, but I'll be honest, I steer clear of stores on those days. There is very little that is worth the stampede of people and I really believe there are still bargains to be had outside of those days.)
See the Potential
Whether an item is on clearance, it's at the Goodwill, or you found it on the side of the curb ALWAYS look at it for it's potential. Is it a lantern that's on clearance missing it's handle? Maybe it can be used as a planter. Is it an outdated picture in a frame? Perhaps it can be used to frame something you like and the frame can be re-painted. There are some fantastic bargains that get overlooked because no one bothers to look at it for it's potential.
Maximize Credit/Debit Card Offers
This tip comes with a slight warning and shouldn't be used by everyone. If you are disciplined enough to spend only what you can afford and can pay off your credit cards each month, then you can benefit from this tip.
Many credit cards offer things like cash back rebates, frequent flyer miles, etc. which are great and definitely help increase your overall cost savings, but, many also offer shopping rewards in the form of gift certificates to use in their stores. These offers can be great.
Last year when I bought my living room chairs from Pottery Barn I opened a Pottery Barn credit card. Why? Because of their rewards program. I knew I would be spending hundreds of dollars for some furniture, so why not make the most of it and earn some rewards in their store? As a result, I was able to buy some high-ticket items for just a few dollars using the rewards I earned on my furniture purchase.
Be careful not to overextend your credit and don't open a new card if you think it will adversely affect your credit rating, however. It might be best to steer clear or open a debit card instead. Stores like Target offer debit cards with similar rewards to their credit card counterparts.
Finally, it's not good to have too many credit cards, so choose the cards you have wisely. Think about how and where you spend your money. A Pottery Barn credit card made sense for me because I buy a lot of things there throughout the year. I also have a Target Red Card and get 5% off every time I shop.
Don't get discouraged if you don't find a super bargain every time you go out. The art of bargain hunting is hit and miss, but when you find a deal it is so fun and rewarding!
Be patient and have fun!
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