Here are some helpful tips for "newbies" on getting the best bargain you can!
***This is a long post, so if you're an experienced bargain shopper, just glance through it and please share your bargain shopping advice in comments below!) ***
1. KNOW your products! For the products you purchase regularly (stickers, paper, pens, adhesive, washi, etc.), you should most definitely be in the know on what they typically cost, what stores carry them, what brands compare to them, etc.
2. Educate yourself! If you are new to the world of bargain shopping or Erin Condre Life Planner decorating, scrapbooking or just planner decorating in general, educate yourself. Take time to start reviewing the websites and printed ads of your local craft / hobby stores, major chain stores, dollar stores and even grocery stores. You can find craft supplies EVERYWHERE! LOL! Pay attention to what stores offer online versus in store. Sometimes the better option is on line, but with craft / hobby stores, major chain stores (Walmart, Target, Big Lots), we have found the best bargains to be had are in-store. Walk the stores with the week's ads in hand, make notes if you need to of the product lines you seem to be drawn to, even take pictures of items you like and the shelf tags to remind you of their regular costs. Compare both the same items and similar items to other stores' offerings.
3. Follow the cycle, shop the cycle! Once you've had a couple of rounds walking the stores with ads in hand, while taking notes / photos, you're ready!! Review your ads, have your electronic coupon links ready (or print your coupons) and make a list! You will come to realize there is a cycle that most retail stores follow (just like Bath & Bodyworks or Macy's), so you will be able to make your purchases when your favorite things go on sale. For example, stickers are something we use almost daily. We try ONLY to purchase stickers when they are on SALE!! Stores like Hobby Lobby, Michael's, JoAnn and Target ALWAYS run their stickers (and most every craft supply) on sale every 4-6 weeks. Buying stickers at 40%-50% off is the ONLY way I'm buying them (except in a very rare, specific circumstance)! By following the sales and knowing the prices of your items, you will begin to see where the best bargains can be found. Frankly, here in Texas, traditionally we have found that Michael's is bit more pricey than Hobby Lobby (on most everything). However, Michael's has a much larger selection of washi tape where Hobby Lobby wins out in the sticker category. In our neck of the woods, JoAnn Fabrics is no where near as competitive in their craft supply pricing as Hobby Lobby and Michael's. But Joann even has a better offering of washi tape than Hobby Lobby. Just observations from our neck of the woods!
4. Clearance items can be found THROUGHOUT a store, not just in the designated "clearance" area! Walk the entire store! If you're looking for a bargain, keep looking, you'll find one (or some!)!! Walmart and Michael's especially and most definitely do this all the time in our shopping area!
5. Different store, different pricing! Just because a price is $3.49 for an item at this store in this city, it does not mean it will be $3.49 at its sister store across town or in another city. It's kind of a crummy thing, really, but it is what it is. So if it's worth the time and savings to you, drive across town, drive to the next city...and check out your options!
6. Wait for the sale! Unless you have a very specific need, wait for the sale! The major chains DO cycle their sale items. And who doesn't want to save 30%-50% on most all their planner / scrapbook supplies?!
7. Buddy Up! Buddy up with a friend or coworker and split the cost! Buy a set of 100 pages of card stock and share it between the two of you! A lot of stickers come in 2 sheets. Easy as pie! Let's say you really want a laminating machine or sticker making machine...Big ticket item...How often will you need / use it? If it's something you really want / need but don't have room in the budget, can you swing it by sharing the cost? Talk to someone who shares your interests. You may very well find a way to make it work if you buddy up!
8. Price Matching: Price matching is a VERY pertinent tool to posses. It takes time, dedication, effort and DESIRE! I'm going to save ramblings on this topic for a grocery post!
9. Never be afraid to ask! Never be afraid to ask about the price of an item. If you feel like it's something that should be on sale or falls within the week's listed sale items, but it doesn't appear to be marked that way, ASK! Just a couple of weeks ago, we were at Walmart. They had several pen sets that were boxed and labeled "holiday pack" (or something similar) for Christmas. They were originally priced at $9.97. The sale price on the rack showed $5.00. That's a great bargain...However, all the other Christmas items were CLEARANCE PRICED at 90% off! So we thought...okay...that would be a HUGE (extreme) savings...but it totally fits the parameters of the sale (in this case, clearance)... and it would totally be worth ASKING the question... SO we loaded up all we had room for in our cart. At checkout, we simply asked the question, "these are Christmas items (pointed out the words "Holiday Pack"), so shouldn't they also be 90% off like the other Christmas clearance?" The cashier politely told us she would have to ask her manager. The manager came over, looked at the item and made the decision that yes, they should be priced at 90% off because they were Christmas items. We got $250 worth of pens for $25.00 ... WORTH ASKING THE QUESTION!
Ultimately, what you pay for your planner / scrapbook supplies is in your hands. It's up to you to actively pursue the best prices you can get. Retailers are out to make a profit, of course. We're all out to save as much as we can (most of us), but we hope to have the luxury of a little happy spending. Make it stretch by using the tips we laid out! Become a bargain shopper!!
We'd love to hear your bargain shopping scores or advice! Leave your comments below.
Amy & Regaina :)