Mid-Late July A Time of Summer Clearances

Beginning now, it is time to shop the clearance racks and bins before the retailers start their "Back To School" promotions.  This is the time for your greatest savings on items you can wear during the remainder of the summer, and for next summer!. 

Outlet Shopping.  MDM usually finds that a bargain hunter can do better on name brands by shopping the clearance at department stores.  However, there are a few exceptions, the major one is to shop the Clearance racks and bins at the Outlet Store. 10 years ago, MDM bought a blazer in a heavy flannel, apple green color for about $20 from Liz Claiborne Outlet at Tanger and it still receives compliments to this day.  Why?  Because classics even in contemporary colors do not go out of style!  That brings us to:

Rule #1.  When shopping designer name brands on clearance for next year, select classic styles.   This is generally true for items that aren’t dirt cheap.  For items that are priced low to begin with and then marked down 50%-75%, it is okay to buy trendy items which you can wear now, and maybe be able to wear next year.

Rule #2.  When you make a purchase at the outlet store, sign-up for their Preferred Customer List.   This will place you on a mailing list that will alert you to sales and coupons.  Which can be almost as good as shopping their clearance, but usually have a discount on a minimum purchase. 

Rule #3.  Outlet Malls have specialized mailings on sales apart from outlet stores.   You can sign-up for these mailings at mall information locations.  Some malls like Tanger even have a special one-time membership fee of $10 which entitles purchasers to coupon books, special sales events, seasonal gift offers and even a $5 gift card offer on your birthday!   If you live close to an outlet mall and/or frequent it often, this may prove to be quite a savings!

Local Malls will be having their fair share of sales on summer goods in addition to preview sales on Fall merchandise.  Some department stores that do not specialize in sports equipment, but may carry summer sports paraphernalia, will be discounting–at least taking 15% to 30% off, the initial markdown during this time. 

Bargain Hunters usually are buying presents for Xmas or Holiday gift giving including birthdays all the year round, but July is one of the seasonal times when you can really lock in some good gift bargains!

Chain Department Stores like Target, WalMart, KMart and others will be moving merchandise including summer totes, apparel, sun glasses, and jewelry not to mention patio and garden merchandise.  Don’t wait long to pick-up that special item since some stores clean house pretty quickly. 

Recently, it was like Xmas for MDM when she found a large plastic storage container filled with shorts, sleeveless tops, and other summer apparel with the tags still on from last summer’s bargain hunting.  Most items were at least 80% off and just perfect for the ultra warm weather that has arrived!

It’s a good idea if you find an inexpensive article of clothing further discounted at 80%-90% off to pick-up several in your size, especially if they come in different colors.  As my friend, Georgeanne, once said to me:

"For that price, you can wash your floors in it!"

Sales Alert June 4 Only

Fashion Bug  is having a one day Employee Discount Day both online and instore.  Take a 40% off on regular items online (Code 7761660806) and an additional 40% off "priced just right" items and clearance items in the store (Code 0791285).  Click on Fashion Bug and print  out code for instore savings! MDM says hurry into the store today and grab the bargains.

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Wednesday Sales Alert


Kohls [jnstore and online].  Summer One Day Sale.   50% off swimwear and beach towels, 40% off sunglasses.  Includes cover-ups.  Only on sale today.


JCPenney.  Wednesday Deals.  Extra markdown only good today such as this flip phone which will give your preteen princess to decorate it and the look of a cell phone including headset.  Reg. $19.99,$5.99+sh., comes only in pink..  Other bargains good until midnight.



Department Stores: Clearance Shopping Part 2

 Found one item, but need the matching piece?  Check out the other store locations.   Many times MDM will find a real bargain on clearance at a store such as a skirt of a suit, one drapery panel,or rod, a bed set missing matching pillowcases, or any number of items, The reason that they are priced low is because they are missing the other piece and are considered one of a kind.  The natural inclination is to pass on the bargain.  However, you may want to reconsider especially if you live in an area that has other locations nearby of the same store.  You may find its’ match at the other stores; if not, you can usually return the item by saving the receipt.  If the markdown is big enough and the item is just what you have been looking for, it is worth making the effort to check out the clearance racks or shelves at the other store locations.  If you still cannot find its match, then:

 If the store has an internet site, check for the item online.  MDM found a great wood pinecone rod for $5 at Target on clearance, but needed another one for two windows of a bedroom and didn’t want to pay full price for the second one.  With repeated checking, another one was not marked down in any of the stores; in fact, all of a sudden that style was no longer available in any size, in any of the stores.  So MDM went on line and found it as a markdown at Target online.  Not as great a bargain as the first one and there was shipping added, but when added up,the pair, even with sh,, amounted to half price.  If this doesn’t work, the next step would be to try to locate the item at the nearest larger metropolitan area, and for MDM that means Minneapolis/St. Paul.  

Still can’t find it and want the item desperately?  Then have the store check its inventory sheets to locate it at another store in a town or city nearest you, if possible.  If the bargain is great enough and you figure the time and gas into this equation, then maybe you can make this a little mini vacation to retrieve it.  If that trip would be cost prohibitive, see if you can have the item shipped to your local store.  it’s worth the inquiry.

Found a display model on clearance,but still think it’s too high?  Don’t be afraid to haggle.  Display models are one of a kind and should be discounted to a minimum of half price.  Even then you should ask for another 20%-30% off the markdown price.  Especially in electronics and clothing since fashion seasons  and technology change quickly.

Look for companies that buy clearance or discontinued lots from your favorite stores.  You need to do your home work here.  Second hand stores such as Goodwill buy  such lots as do consignment shops.  But watch the prices and condition since it may be higher than the last store’s markdown or it may be damaged. 

Department Stores: Clearance Shopping

Markdown Mom usually finds the largest bargains on clearance racks and shelves in department stores and family-oriented chain stores.  However, there are a few tips MDM has developed through the years  to maximize efforts in shopping for these bargains:

Learn the Layout of the Store.  Stores have traffic patterns to lead the customer to the merchandise with the maximum amount of profit.  Only during the promotionals will you see sale signs posted near these high trafficked areas.  Identify the various departments, this is especially helpful for holiday rush sales when getting a bargain is tied into accessing the merchandise in the shortest amount of time and distance.

Clearance Areas Are Sometimes Hidden.  Obviously clearance will not be visible easily  to the casual browser. They will occupy the square footage that is the least profitable to the stores.  For instance:

(1)  The back walls of the store.  Dressing rooms are located near the side or back walls of the store’s building and so are clearance racks, especially in the high-end department stores.   Or they may be interspersed somewhere in the middle and usually comprise 1-3 racks; although, in family-oriented chain stores such as Target may be on several racks according to the markdown percentage.

(2)  At the end of aisles.  Shelves at the end of  an aisle will usually serve as placement for markdown items in that particular department. There has been a recent development in some stores to locate the markdown merchandise with the merchandise of the department, posting small signs flagging the clearance items.  This often involves merchandise like boxed furniture since the section at the end of the aisle could be blocked by placing large merchandise of this type there. 

(3)  In Moveable Containers. Shelves on wheels and shopping carts have been used by stores such as Wal-Mart to house lot items such as socks, plants, canning supplies, that have been recently reduced and are limited quantities.

(4)  Large Sections Labeled Clearance. K-Mart , Wal-Mart, and others will have large sections specifically labeled Clearance and will have signs posted as such.  However, these locations will change from time to time depending on the amount of seasonal merchandise not sold.  The other day, MDM found the toys K-Mart had on clearance in the back of the store on the opposite side of a shelf for the electronic department and the automotive department.

(5) Warehouse Stores and Large Designated Clearance areas.  Shopping Clubs like Sam’s have sections which will house markdowns from the entire store.  Our local club’s markdown area is in the back of the store located near merchandise truck arrivals and pick-ups.  Who would have guessed?  They will also put shelves in the aisles and tables for sale items that they want to move quickly.

(6) Shop Display Models.  One of a kind usually has the best prices especially in electronics.  An additional 30% off the markdown price is given.  Sometimes the display model may be missing a part, like instructions, or a remote in the case of a TV, but if the markdown is good enough you can always write the company to replace the part..

(7) Damaged.  It is always good to completely look over anything you buy for damage.   If it is not significantly damaged or you can repair it to your satisfaction, and you still can use the item–even if it is marked down, asked for a better price.  Chances are they will either give it to you, or if they don’t, just wait–it probably won’t be sold for the same reason it is marked down.

Always Check the Bar Code on an item. Sometimes regular merchandise becomes mixed-in with clearance items.  Usually a customer will just drop an unwanted item at the end of an aisle, etc.  Be sure to check bar codes if you can with available machines or have a clerk check it to make sure that the price has been reduced to prevent a shock at the checkout.  Additionally, you may be pleasantly surprised.  MDM found circular metal gift tags which originally were $1.19 were marked $$.99, when checked, the price was 32 cents.  Checking a markdown price not only prevents a misunderstanding, but can in the case of the gift tags determine the quantity you will buy of any one item. 

What If There Is No Markdown Price?  If there is a barcode, be sure to get it read.  Also, if you find another exact item in clearance, but it is not the same size bring it with you to the check-out so that they can correct and input the price into the computer.  Believe me this will save lots of time.  If you cannot find another, get a hold of a salesperson or stocking clerk that works in that area and ask them to check on the price for you.  Sometimes stock which has been out of their system will appear and they will offer you a price deal on the spot for it, just to clear it out of their inventory. 

What If One Item is Marked Down and Another One Isn’t?  First treat it as a if it didn’t have a price and ask.  MDM found a $99 topiary marked $78 and another one marked $11.   Since it always better to have a pair in this case, simply asking got both changed to $11.  However, that is not always the case.  MDM has found the exact article in a different size or color as the markdown price one and been told by the store salesperson that it was later merchandise and that is why it wasn’t marked down.  I don’t know if I quite believe that, but at any rate, it doesn’t hurt to ask. 

What Is A Good Markdown Price?  MDM doesn’t consider any price less than a third-off as a markdown.  Less than that is simply a sale price and one that is considered viable only on foodstuffs.  A decent markdown is 50% if the item has limited quantities and waiting later could mean that you won’t get it.  A really good markdown is 75% off and the best is 90%, which is infrequent, but possible.  In determining any price you have to assess when you  need it, how badly you want it, and if there is a possibility that it will go lower.  Additionally you have to know your merchandise, electronics may not get as big a markdown depending on popularity, etc.  Apparel and houseware are goods that can go low, especially off season items.  

Sale Alerts #3 April

Nordstrom’s Rack [instore] New sale items arrival in women’s apparel and women’s shoes today.

Overstock.com  Warehouse sale up to 80% off includes end of season coat liquidation, including children and adult sizes. This sale includes blazers and designers such as  Anne Klein, Michael Kors,  Marvin Richards and Kenneth Cole. Winter boot sale has hot deals but very limited size range, designers include Dolce and Gabbana, and others; as MDM says Buy It Now and Wear It Next Year.

JCPenney.  Instore and online, extra 20% off one day only-April 23rd.

Pottery Barn Unadvertised sale until Monday, April 24 20% to 50% off

Lane Bryant Instore and onliine. Take a 25% discount on regularly priced items.  Online use code 00251679 at checkout until April 24.

Hancock Fabrics.  Butterick and McCalls Patterns 99 cents through Saturday.  Beginning on Saturday 50% off Vogue Patterns and Fabric Coupon Sale at store up to 40% off  one regular priced fabric selection, additional savings on notions, etc.  Cost of sewing, Lynn at MDM says  with the cost of sewing it’s a good time to find coordinating Work to Weekend outfit patterns and pantsuit patterns requiring 2 hours of sewing, even for the beginner, and put the extra savings into the fabric.


Cool Places: My Sister’s Closet Consignment Shop

Consignment shops are a wonderful source for stylish clothing at bargain prices.  They are resources for both buyers and sellers since they serve both clientele equally well.  Here is a thumbnail sketch of one local consignment shop which represents the opportunities for bargain hunters to obtain real savings.

.  My Sister’s Closet is locally owned by two sisters. One of the owners, Rosemary, stated that they have been in business for 6 years at this location. There are other consignment stores called My Sister’s Closet located in Winona, Minnesota, Phoenix, Arizona, and Atlanta, Georgia, but they are not associated with these or any chain consignment shops. The two sisters operate out of a home near Macalaster College surrounded by Georgetown style brick homes, ethnic restaurants, coffee, and bread shops.

Bargains on Brand Name Clothing.  My Sister’s Closet sells vintage leather, wool, and fur jackets, and retro shirts. They also sell brand name clothing including Polo, Ralph Lauren, and Jones of New York.

Prices.  Prices range from $16 to $400, depending on the item. Most wool, leather, or trench coats, however, are reasonably priced at $40-$60.

Sizes and Merchandise.  Sizes are mostly limited to small and medium, although I found some plus sizes from 12-18. This consignment shop is exclusive for women’s clothes, jackets, shoes, hats, and jewelry. You can often find women shopping here on their lunch break or bringing their young daughters on the hunt.

Sales.  Consignment shops typically have annual sales in order to turn over the stock.  Be sure to look for these sales which are usually toward the end of a season.  Additional savings can run between 50% to 75% off  the ticketed price.

My Sister’s Closet
Vintage Consignment Shop
1136 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105

Article researched and written by Genelle for Markdown Mom in conjunction with My Sister’s Closet.

Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Bargains!

As with all holidays, retailers take the opportunity for the down time of workers to lure them into their stores for spectacular savings. This weekend, Jan. 14-16, has a variety of sales including local mall sidewalk sale days. These sales include the last dregs of Christmas items and exciting winter apparel sales. Target [in store]. MDM found an up to 75% off on selected winter coats including target’s fake furs and merona brand career shoes. Hand bags, belts, winter gloves and scarves markdowns ranged from 30%-50% off. Be careful about buying ahead of time due to target’s new return policy (more on policy in future articles). Barnes and Noble. Barnes and Noble is having a book sale blowout in which you can save up to 40% on bestseller books, such as Cell by Stephen King and The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Furthermore, B&N is offering up to a 50% reduction on calendars for the New Year. Orders that amount to $25 or more will include free standard shipping if all items are shipped together. Sam’s Club [ in store]. For Sam’s Club members, check out the Siena button lamb blazer and/or zip jacket for $54.81 each. Jackets have soft texture and are high in quality. Also, look for the Anne Klein cashmere tee and crewneck sweaters, sizes range S-XL, reg. $99, sale price: $24.81. Don’t forget to check Sam’s “low-on-hand” in store section for discontinued items and clearance. JCPenny. JCPenny is having its white sale event, which advertises savings of 20-50% off regular price. Items featured in the white sale are housewares, bed and bath, window decorations, and home furnishings. Be sure to check out the set of 3 microplane ® graters featured in the housewares/ kitchen gadgets sections for $29.99. Sears. Sears is having a three day weekend sale (fri-mon) on electronics. Be sure to click on three day specials on the sears’ homepage to find the greatest savings. The women apparel section boasts savings up to 75%. Other items on sale include: shoes, men and kids’ apparel, tools and tires. For further savings, check out the clearance section located on the homepage. The best buys are found in the holiday gifts/top picks link. Check the notch collar flannel pajama sizes: S-3X for $6.99, reg. $14.98 (53% savings).

Store Closings and Going Out Of Business Sales

Store closings presents a paradox for the bargain hunter. Although it means that all inventory will sooner or later be discounted, at the same time it can mean a loss to the community. There are a number of reasons a store closes. Internal retrenchment, consolidation, relocation, retirement, or a bad bottom line. Whatever the cause, the hunter can obtain a bargain if he/she is aware of some potential pitfalls. Pitfalls. The store may hire a professional liguidator or may handle the sellout with current staff/owner. Usually the first markdown of a closing or going out of business sale is anywhere from 10% to 30%. However, some liguidators have been known to raise all merchandise prices, which may have been discounted previously, to the original retail and then proceed t0 take the markdown. Therefore, you may go in to buy an item that was previously on sale for $29.99 expecting a 30% reduction with a new price of $21.02 only to receive a sticker shock of the original retail price of $39.99 being listed. After the 30% discount, the item you expected to pay $21.02 will cost you $ 28.02. Another pitfall is to watch for additional inventory being brought in by the liquidator, ‘salting‘ the sale (more on this practice later). Best Deals. Still a third pitfall is that a ‘going out of business sale’ does not necessarily mean that, but in fine print may mean a change in current inventory. As with all bargain hunting to get the best deal and avoid the pitfalls, knowledge of the store’s merchandise and prices is paramount. MDM always follows the rule that unless you desparately need an item, it is prudent to wait for the best price you can get even at the peril of losing it. An acceptable discount is 50%, a better discount is 75%, and the best discount is 90% or below cost, whichever comes first. Bargains Within Bargains. Besides the merchandise, be sure to look for bargains involving shelving, display counters, and other furniture for doing business. MDM has bought freestanding chrome and aluminum shelving for storage at prices that were comparatively low to restaurant suppliers or buying similar items in the household section of chain department stores or diy home improvement stores. Current Closings. Keeping that bit of information in mind, be sure to check your local TOYS R US. 70 stores are being closed. However, for those communities that will be losing their store, remember you can always shop online at www.toysrus.com. Camp Snoopy Mall of America[www.campsnoopy.com] The Mall of America is changing its central point of entertainment resulting in the closing of Camp Snoopy. Items are being sold at its Bloomington, Minnesota location at discounts of 40%. www.campsnoopy.com is having a sale of 50% off its plush toys until January 15.