What To Buy And What Not To Buy At Warehouse Clubs

A MarketWatch  post today  reminds us all that there are advantages and disadvantages to buying in bulk.  One advantage is saving money by cutting the cost of the unit price.  However, as MarkdownMom has pointed out, the savvy shopper needs to look at the unit price and consider if buying from stores that routinely offer sale prices and coupons is a better buy.

Another important consideration in this article is to really analyze your family needs.  Unless you have a large family or extended family to share the large quantities, it doesn’t make sense to buy perishables since it is unlikely that you’ll use a large quantity of this item prior to their expiration date.  A gallon of catsup doesn’t make sense for two people, etc.

Also remember that certain stores known for a particular item will have better prices  than the warehouse stores.  CD’s, DVDs, etc. are often lower in price at Target, Amazon, WalMart, etc.

However, warehouse stores are excellent for lower prices on meat, tires and batteries, medications and buying in bulk can often save you time, gasoline, and inconvenience and  necessity of multiple trips to keep items in stock for your family.

MarkdownMom Exclusive: SR Harris Designer Fabric Outlet Opens Store In Burnsville!

SR Harris is known to crafters, fashion designers, and interior decorators alike as a premier outlet of fine fabrics.  Located in the Twin Cities suburb of Brooklyn Park, they have expanded by opening another store in the Burnsville community–about 10 miles (13 minutes)  SW of Mall of America at 3715  Hwy 13 with 15,500 sq. ft. of sheer imagination!

Embroidered fabrics laden with swarovski crystals, real and faux fur, batiks, silks, quilting cottons, etc., and all the accoutrements to finish that special project.  Plus get these fabulous fabrics at 60% off msrp. and always look for their special coupon deals!

To be one of the first customers through their new store doors  sometime this fall, follow them on Facebook!


Grocery Wars Part 2: Less Choices

Retailers learned their lesson following 2008 crash that controlling inventory became key to improving sales. What they did not count on was a continuing decline, not only in the purchasing power of consumers, but also the on-going decline of the middle class that began in 1980 and continues today.

Food always has been competitive with narrower profit margins than most other businesses; however, it was somewhat recession proof since consumers could forgo buying a new car or the latest fashion, but everyone has to eat, right?  However, now grocery stores have begun to control inventories beyond seasonal items and what this means for the consumer is a decline in the number and type of selections a store will carry.  Add to this natural causes such as drought, floods, and shorter growing seasons, that have increased prices substantially on beef and pork, and the consumer increasingly is being placed between a rock and a hard place.  As the middle class keeps losing ground coupled with higher prices, grocery stores are scaling back the volume and variety they offer in almost every department.

How many times have you experienced going to either a warehouse store or local grocery store for a staple that you have been buying for years, only to find that it isn’t being carried by the retailer anymore?  Are these products no longer being supplied?  In some cases, yes—some businesses have closed either through competitive attrition or retirement in family-owned businesses, but not all.  Stores are cutting back on what they consider gourmet items but also on staples if price is prohibitive and sales are limited due to the makeup of their clientele.

What this means is that many of your favorite items will be harder to find and indirectly will affect the type of meals you will be able to offer your family.  Additionally, prices will increase as competition declines.  What this means in the long run for the overall nutrition of your family is difficult to determine.

MarkdownMom does recommend increasing community gardens and individual gardens to the level of WWII Victory Gardens, and continuation of developing relationships with local farmers, local farmers markets, and learning canning and other food preservation methods.  Until the middle class starts to see signs of an economic recovery, going to the grocery store will require employing all the savvy consumer skills you have to survive sticker shock!

Warehouse Sale

Pottery Barn has a super sale once a year and it’s happening now!  Up to 75% off.

MarkdownMom found these terrific house numbers in burnished antique bronze with a branch motif, 8.5″-10.5″ high, reg. $14, on sale $9.

MDM Says:  Supplies and selections become very limited in short order so don’t wait long to shop!

Get Your Groupon!

 The buying power of many outweighs the buying power of few.  This is not a new idea, the big retail chains have always been able to get price breaks over the small mom and pop businesses.  Small businesses in recent years have joined together to get deals on health care insurance for employees, though I am not sure that “deal” and health care insurance belong in the same sentence.  However, I digress.  Well, we have seen buyers enter into clubs to get deals on products. Hold that thought or rather extend it with GROUPON.

This online site offers free membership to buyers interested in their special deals of the day and they can be fantastic deals.  If a number of buyers are interested in a particular deal on products or services, sort of like a reserve, then the buyer can purchase it at the deal price to be used later.  This encourages you to get your friends in on the deal as well, the more the merrier.   Diversified selection of deals, anything from Bagels to Gym services.

Plus it has a business component by offering to small businesses an opportunity to offer a deal of the day and thereby increase their clientele and their sales.  Win, win for both consumer and business entity!

Offered at present in major metropolitan areas, MarkdownMom foresees expansion and continued growth for this site.

So, Get Your GROUPON and SAVE!

Decorating on the Cheap

The mark-up for furniture has traditionally been 100%; however, if you don’t need your entire house or apartment done at once, then your best bet is to shop around for deals. It use to be that the seasonal turnovers and bargains were limited to twice a year, February and August. However, in recent years, a furniture store clearancenumber of dedicated furniture stores are enticing customers with zero percent interest rates for a specified time (that keeps increasing adjusting for downturns in the economy), free electronics or furniture accessories such as lamps, etc. These offers usually have a minimum purchase requirement and may not always apply to clearance or warehouse/garage sale items. t’s only a bargain if you can afford it, remember if you miss a payment or carry a balance owed, you may have to pay interest for the entire time you have had the item(s), which can amount to a close-end credit rate of up to a whopping 25% or more.

Having said that however, there are areas in a store that can offer some of the best bargains especially if you are looking for a single furniture piece or accessories. You can get accessories for up to 75% off in the sections of the store marked “Clearance.” These areas are usually found in the back of the store or can be found even on a loading/storage dock area. The store that MDM went to had a “clearance area” that had multiple closeouts especially in mattresses, chairs, rugs, and accessories. A very large red contemporary Rossolo sculpture that would fit well with a modern or Asian decor was originally $199, sale priced $46.00. This piece was purchasedfor MDM’s daughters apartment.

furniture store warehouse sale

In the Warehouse Sale section, MDM found larger pieces of furniture such as sofas, an armoire, a kitchen island, etc. If the tag in these areas are not at least 50% off, don’t be afraid to ask for a better price. On one piece another $100 was taken off the sale priced. On larger pieces be sure to check to see if there is free delivery, sometimes that is an extra cost, but one MDM feels is always negotiable.

Warehouse Shopping Tips

You can save a lot of money by joining a buying club.  These essentially are retailers that offer discounts for buying in bulk.  The most popular and widely known are Sam’s Club, Cosco, and BJ’s.  However, there are a few tips that can maximize your savings. 

1.  Each warehouse club has a "clearance" or markdown area.  Sometimes it takes a little searching to find these areas.  Like any retail store, the major traffic areas will be occupied with full price merchandise, and most discontinued, last one, seasonal items that are reduced can be found on shelves near the outside walls of the warehouse.  There are few exceptions such as apparel.  If there is enough quantity with real deep markdowns, check  tables at the end of the warehouse row–next to the outside wall, or if limited, on a special table in the apparel department.  Be sure to check the signs for prices.

2.  Another way to spot these markdowns is to check codes printed on the price sheets.  Sam’s Club uses "C" to identify discontinued items.  Cosco identifies discontinued with an *asterisk. 

3.  Markdown merchandise can be identified by the price.  At Cosco, markdown prices end with 97cents, $XX.97.  Sam’s Club markdown price ends in a penny, $XX.01. 

4.  Keep track of prices.  Remember you are buying in bulk and many times when you calculate the individual price of an item, you may save more by buying it at a store and with groceries using coupons for greater savings.   Also, keep track of regular prices on the shelves.  From time to time, a sizeable quantity can be reduced in place either because it is seasonal or discontinued, or limited quantities. 

5.  There is a pattern to the placement of clearance, seasonal, and discontinued items.  Large quantities are markdown in place, reduced quantities are moved to outside walls or specific areas near the regular merchandise (like electronics), and limited numbers, depending on size of the item and number, end up on the markdown shelves away from regular merchandise. 

6.  Watch for "seasonal" or "one time buy" items.  Usually these are limited quantities and the price can be very good, such as the Stilton Cheese for $9.88 at Sam’s Club during the holidays.  Many warehouse stores bring in special "goodies" during the holidays, either in plants or gourmet foods. 

7.  Buy the warehouse "private label" items.  Sam’s Club has Member’s Mark, Cosco has Kirkland Signature, and BJ’s has Berkeley & Jensen labels.  These include quality items like leather jacket at very competitive prices, and you can get the quality of higher priced "brands" at real bargain prices. 

8.  Watch for the "food samples" since the launch of a new product oftentimes includes a great price.  This also includes the custom days when you can order your selection in the amount you want, not a prepackaged amount like seafood, and you can get the selection you want, like muffins, rather than the prepackaged variety. 

9. Electronics.  Electronics at warehouse clubs does not always beat prices of specialized stores, since these stores make more on the warranties and therefore can offer better prices.  However, should you have to return the merchandise for whatever reason, returns can be easier at the warehouse.

10.  Pharmaceuticals prices are excellent on your prescriptions and over-the-counter medicinal needs.  Selection may not be as varied on the over-the-counter products, and, of course, you buy in bulk. 

MEMBERSHIP:   Since you usually need to buy a membership to purchase warehouse products, you can split the cost of the membership with other family members or friends and split the large quantities as well. 

Tip of the Week: #39  Check the seasonal items and stock-up since it may be a year before you see the item again. 




For instance, Sam’s Club gets these large colossal shrimp in once a year–they’re the size the British would refer to as "prawns." 4-6  Shrimp Per Pound, 2 Lb. Pkg.  Right now they are in stock, but once gone won’t appear for another year.