I come from a long line of bargain hunters. I have been able to find the clearance aisle of a store since I was able to walk. I cannot go to Target without walking up the backsides of every aisle, eyes peeled for the tell-tale red sticker.
We all know by now that shopping online typically offers the best deal on most things. Brick and mortar stores have too much overhead to compete with online-only companies, and eBay offers a wealth of goods, both used and new, for pennies on the dollar. However, I like shopping. I like it quite a bit. I like the act of scouring through sale racks or the mishmash of clothing and housewares at stores like Ross, TJMaxx, and Marshall’s. I take an unreasonable amount of pride in the deals I find. I love finding slightly damaged goods for next to nothing and taking them home and making them perfect. A friend was recently telling me about the great deal she had gotten on her new dining room table and chairs – $750 – and I was appalled because I realized that I had furnished most of my house for that amount of money. Unless it is something I absolutely have to have, I am pretty much physically incapable of paying the retail price of anything.
Shopping for me is like meditation, a methodical sorting of the good from the bad, a calming retreat for me from the rest of my hectic days. I know that many people do not feel the same way and dread the idea of shopping for fun. However, please allow my hours spent in discount stores offer some insight into the items you should never, EVER pay full price for.
We just switched over to iPhones at my office, meaning everyone needed new cases, chargers, and the various other accouterments that go along with that. The Verizon store had everything I needed right there to scoop up along with the phones. $24.99 for a car charger, $30 for a case, $50 for a headset. Sure, I was using a company card and could have scooped it all up right then out of sheer convienece. But I couldn’t. Physically and mentally could not plunk down that kind of cash for such things. Instead, I walked across the parking lot to Marshall’s where I found, in some cases, the exact same items for a fraction of the cost, and also a much larger and better selection of cases and other accessories. Average cost of chargers? $6.99. Cases? $3.99-$8.99. Headsets and earpieces are a little more challenging, but you can sometimes find them (online is best for these). They also have iPad cases, iPod accessories, and plenty of other electronic goods, all at steep discounts. These stores typically hide these in the men’s accessories department; apparently the ladies just find those fancy electronic thingies better left to the men folk (I’m such a feminist killjoy, I know), or up by the registers.
Another thing I almost always see at these stores? iHome docks, the same ones that go for $60-$100 at Target and Best Buy, for about half the price. Same exact item.
I absolutely love Honeydew underwear. They have the cutest designs ever, and their mesh boy shorts and cotton thongs are the shit. However, they are $14 a piece at department stores. There is not a chance in hell I am paying that much money for something that rests on my crotch all day. I just won’t. Nordstrom Rack used to sell them for less than $3 a pair, but they got wise a few years back and jacked up to price to $6-$10 each. Ross and the like have not. While it always takes some digging, and sometimes requires patience waiting for them to get a new shipment, they are $1.50 for the thongs and $2.50 for the boy shorts. They have Calvin Klein, DKNY, Maidenform, and many other bra brands as well. All of my favorite, most comfortable bras have come from these stores and I haven’t paid more than $15 for one in years. They also usually have a large selection of bras in bigger sizes, so even the well-endowed among us have many options.
There are going to be times when one needs a very particular sized frame. For those times, try eBay or use the weekly 40% off coupon from Michael’s. For all other standard sized frames, never buy them anywhere other than discount stores (unless they are on clearance at Target; sometimes you can find EPIC scores). Home Goods, Marshall’s, etc., always have an ample and awesome selection of frames and I have yet to pay more than $20 for one, and that was a huge, multiple photo collage frame. Most of their frames are in the $4-$15 range, even for large 8×10 and multi-photo ones. They have ornate frames, simple and modern frames, and every style in between. I try to buy frames with visual interest, even if they are horrendously colored, and spray paint them all to match. You will find a much more varied selection at discount stores than almost any other retailer.
Pet toys and supplies are outrageously pricey. Those little rolls of poop bags cost around $12 for a pack of 4, for goodness’ sakes. They are poop bags!!! Bags whose sole purpose is to contain fecal matter for disposal! There is this old, incredibly gendered and stereotypical adage that goes something like “A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item she doesn’t need; a man will pay $2 for a $1 item that he does.” Basically, chicks will by anything if it is on sale and a guy will spend too much money on something because I guess he is too lazy to shop around? As much as I like to combat bullshit like this, my brother and my husband have both recently purchased the aforementioned poop bags at a pet store for the full price, and I berated them both for being willing to spend that amount of money on something used to pick up shit. This is my long winded way of saying that Ross and the like have them cheaper. Usually a 6-pack for $2.99, a 12-pack for $5.99. They also have a ton of toys, pet beds, and outfits at great discounts.
I know that these discount stores can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t like shopping in the first place. Hopefully these tips will make the stores seem a little less daunting, giving you a more pointed reason for going in and knowing which areas to hit. Too many people in my life have expressed shock that these stores carried good selections of the items mentioned above that I felt I was duty bound to enlighten all my awesome Persephoneers.
Do you have any secret discount shopping tips? Any stores that having amazing prices on something you never would have guessed? What are you unwilling to pay full price for?