New Year’s Clearance and January Deals

Kohl’s is having a 60% off original retail price, listings are limited and your best bet is their white sale. The 99 cents per item shipping is still good. L.L.Bean. Winter Sale is underway. However claim of up to 60% is very limited and includes mostly smaller sizes. Women sizes range from XS to XL include tall and petite. For plus sizes go to “more sizes” 18W to 26W. MDM did like the egyptian bedding which includes sheets and a chenille patch bedspread, sales are 30% to 42%, but still expensive since sheets are sold not in sets but individually. Ultra-absorbent towels are 47% off, very plush posh look of 100% egyptian cotton in double layers of terry loop. You can have these monogram for $5 or if you have an L.L.Bean Visa monogramming is free–worth it for the ultimate luxury look. Lands’ End. “Semi-annual Clearance Event.” Go to “overstock” for up to 70% off suggested retail. MDM found really darling sherpa marinac boots for 50% off. Also check out the “Not Quite Perfect” listing for good markdowns, but limited quantities and sizes. This is a better buy site if you are looking for the fashionable outdoor look. Spiegel. Check review at After Xmas Sale. Spiegel’s offer 20% additional off clearance (Code 148) until 01/04/06. JCPenney. At blogging, best deals were on Xmas closeouts. Go to the online outlet store for lowest prices. 30% to 65% off suggested retail. Markdowns updated on Monday and Saturdays and extra special Wednesday deals which can be up to 50% off clearance markdown, e.g. euro pillow $24.99 retail, clearance $9.99, Wedesday deal $4.99. Check out the 14 k hoop earrings for 70% off, reg. $270 for $79, only criticism JCPenney does not state gram weight or size. Additional plus can put items wanted in temporary shopping bag and return to it later. Update 01/07/06 JCPenney is having its Super Clearance until 01/09/06. Just go to online outlet. Savings range from 50 to 70%. Women’s wear is limited mostly to Misses Sizes. Women’s shoes including some boots with a few of the hard-to-find larger sizes up to 11wide. Limited but diverse home furnishings, mostly accessories. Limited children’s and men’s wear, but cute teenage messsage pillows for 60%off. KMart. Update 01/06/06. KMart is having a 2 day instore sale on Xmas decorations of 75% off suggested retail, Saturday and Sunday with an additional 50% off selected winter footwear. Good markdown, bargain hunters, to get next year’s Xmas ornaments, cards, lighting, gift wrap, etc. Pottery Barn Teen. Update 01/06/06 Some really good deals can be had at this site in the clearance section of the “sale” listing online. Up to 75% off on selected linens and accessories. This merchandise is not only for the teenager, but selections are extremely limited. Bloomingdale’s. 01/10/06 High end store, but bargain hunters can shop their “sale & values” listing for the best discounts, check out subcategories like “end of season” and especially “cold weather sale” listing where items are 50% + off. Otherwise, discounts range from 25% to 50%+ off, but you have to be quick to grab the best buys. By the time MDM finished registering, our first choice sold out, second choice sold out when I returned to that same item and third and final choice was not a charm–all stock was gone within minutes of finding it. Shipping starts at 5.95 for $25 limit and incrementally goes up $2 for each additional $25; however, for orders of $125 + it is free [use code FREE4u]. Pricey place, but wonderful to browse through to get the latest fashions trends. TARGET. 01/12/06 Target’s Clearance listing is sprouting some great discounts on decorator items including storage– up to 80% off. Be sure to check this site out for merchandise that has the Pottery Barn look, but not the Pottery Barn prices.

Estate Sale Primer – Steps 1 – 5

Estate sales are fun to go to, but they are not for the faint of heart especially if you live in the colder regions of the country as they require you to rise early in the morning and stand in line to get your number to be invited in to hunt for that bargain or rare find. In looking at the ads for estate sales, it is always a good idea if you know the professionals handling the sale. A few estate sales are done by family members, but the vast majority are done by professionals who normally take 20% to 40% to cover the cost of the ad, organizing the household items (and clean-out), pricing, and providing staff to handle the sale. If you do enough estate sales, you will get to know firsthand or by speaking with other bargain hunters, the quirks and backgrounds of the various estate sale planners/sellers. You will get to know the ones that have fair prices, the ones that cut private deals with the antique dealers (discussed later), their individual expertise, and how to bargain. Most of these professionals are honest, hardworking individuals. I have done a family estate sale and believe me it can be a lot of work depending on the size of the estate. Numbers. Numbers are given out by the seller to designate the order buyers are allowed into the sale e.g. 1, 2, 3… Antique dealers try to get in as early as possible, and some will do almost anything to accomplish this. MDM has found that at some estate sales, “prenumbers,are given out. Now, you may ask yourself “what are prenumbers?” They are numbers usually given out by the earliest arrivals and are not the official numbers. These prenumbers are exchanged for the real numbers when the time arrives to pick-up numbers as stated in the newspaper. MDM deplores this practice since many unsuspecting people arrive on time to get their number, only to be surprised when there are 5 people there, and the number you are given is 15 or 32! Why are numbers important? Like the proverbial early bird, the first look garners the rarest finds, the one of a kind. Like antique dealers, estate salespersons have expertise in certain areas and, therefore, prices will reflect that expertise. Some are experts on furniture, others on porcelain, still others on artwork, etc. The breadth of expertise is usually determined by their individual passions. It is an impossible task to be an expert in every genre. Therefore, there are always items that are undervalued, sitting on the shelf, in the closet, or the basement waiting to be discovered by a knowledgeable hunter. These are the “finds” we all dream about. The mission magazine rack made in Philadelphia, missing its top shelf (a find for restoration). The $30 depression vase for $1.00! Estate sales provide a good opp0rtunity for those starting out in a new apartment or furnishing their first home since antique furniture is usually solid wood that will increase in value through the years and outlast many contemporary pieces made with veneer overlayments of particle board or mdf. Even if you pay premium prices for these pieces at an estate sale, they are usually less expensive than comparable value bought in a high end furniture store. Bidding. With many high end pieces, unless a truly wonderful find presents itself like a massive mission china cabinet for $1000, you will have an opportunity to place a bid on them. I usually will go with 50% of the asking price plus a little more for a bid to create an odd rather than even figure depending upon the rarity and condition of the piece. A reputable seller will have a box where the bids can be placed and not opened until a designated time, usually early on the last day of the sale. However, I have known sellers to go through the bids and tell an interested person what the current bid on the piece is–run don’t walk away from these people because they are using your interest to raise the price for whatever reason known to them and hidden from you. Listed Prices. Most items will carry a price on them. Some items may be sold in bulk with a general sign posted listing prices, e.g. books unless specifically marked may be $2 each, or $5.00 a box, or canning jars may be 10 cents a piece, or 12 for $1.00. Be hesistant if you find a number of items without a price or a sign listing the price. Some sellers once they see your interest in a particular item will look over the piece with a fine tooth comb and come up with a higher price justifying that price by expounding on the value of the piece and thereby destroying the possibility of getting a find (remember, they can’t be an expert on everything and your interest raises a red flag that they have overlooked or undevalued this item). Another reason is more surreptitious. The seller uses your peaked inquiry to raise the price higher than other similar items at the sale. There was one professional seller who did this as a standard operating procedure, therefore we never went to him for a price quote, but to his staff instead. They finally got on to this and refused to give a quote, but referred an unmarked item directly to him. Now, there are some buyers who will try to switch tags or remove the price in order to get a better deal. Such a practice is the reason that estate sale employees staff every level of a sale, and are constantly floating not only to spot shoplifters, but these practices as well. MDM considers this equally reprehensible. It is far better for a buyer to simply ask if that is the seller’s best price, or if he/she could do better. This leads to a sacrosanct rule for any type of bargain hunting: Never Be Afraid To Ask For A Better Price. What’s the worst that can happen? Right, they can say “no.” Timing has a lot to do with getting a better deal. Such a question would not produce any results early in the sale, but near closing time or on a second day of the sale, your chances are greater at arriving at a better price. But don’t make the offer a ridiculous one, e.g. on a $50 item don’t offer $2. Such a disparity between the buyer and seller begs the question as to the legitimacy of the offer. Consider what it is worth to you and make a offer which allows some give and take to arrive at that figure. Be Prepared. This means several things. First of all, determine how you are going to pay for a find. Does the seller take checks or only cash (there are a few that will take charge/debit cards). Second, can you get the item(s) home. If you can’t transport it, or make arrangements to transport it, you can’t buy it. Sometimes the transporting of the item can equal the cost or more, e.g. a piano. Finally, keep reading those antique books and design magazines, watching the Antique Road Show and other media events, going to estate sales and antique stores, and checking this site for upcoming tips and reports. Bargain hunting is a continuing education course, exciting and like any other field the more you know, the better hunter you become.

Online Specials for the After Christmas Bargain Hunters

KOHL’S [www.kohls.com] Up to 60% off on online and instore merchandise including sale, regular and clearance items through 12/28. Receive a $10 kohl’s cash for every $50 spent online and instore. This includes clearance items, too. Good deal hunters!!! Plus 99 cent shipping per item [2 items shipping is $1.98 etc.]. Also, Home Sale Bonus Buys. 50 to 60% off select items as candles, art, decorative art, frames, throws, albums, corningware, pyrex, bakeware, service ware, decorative pillows and slipcovers.

WILLIAMS-SONOMA [www.williams-sonoma.com] Online Winter Sale Up to 65% off on select items until o1/05/06. Markdown Mom is finding 30% to 70% off on select items including candy, kitchen gadgets, dinnerware, linens, and foodstuffs–example butternut squash puree–reg.$10, now $2.99.

NORDSTROM [www.nordstrom.com] Usually the best buys at Nordstrom’s is on their “sale” section online where markdowns range from 30% to 70% or instore at Nordstrom’s Rack (check the bottom and click on Nordstroms Rack to get the latest dates for upcoming sales). The best deal at Nordstrom’s Rack before Christmas was their December 21 Tag Sale when you could get 25% to 60% off red dot markdowns and 50% to 60% off new arrival of shoes. Their next sale date is December 27 which they are calling Resolutions–big savings to start the new year off. Right now Nordstrom’s is having a Winter Sale of 25% to 50% off. Usually I wait for a substantial markdown of at least 50% off depending how hard the item is to come by, or how desparate I need it. Remember Bargain Hunters, unless it is one of a kind, you usually can wait for the best deal. However, having said that, if you find a 70% off bargain online or instore in your size, grab it as they go very fast since that is usually their bottom markdown line! If there are several items you are interested in purchasing, remember Nordstrom’s has a flat shipping fee of $5.00–which is the same charge for 1 item as for 5. An extra plus online is a wish list under “your account.” This really helps in your hunt since you can track the markdown and the availability of a particular item. And you can email the list to a relative or gift-giving friend.

SPIEGEL [www.spiegel.com] Markdown Mom really likes this site for its clearance listings which include “Below Cost,” its style, and tremendous savings. Right now through 12/29/05 Spiegel is having an additional 25% off (use code 142 in final review of order) including recent markdowns. Markdown Mom has found that markdowns range from 15% to 75%. However, remember that the larger the savings, the more limited the sizes, color, and availability of an item. Although the current 25% markdown does not include shipping and handling (on clearance items this usually starts at $5.95+ and $2.50 handling), the additional markdown will usually cover this cost with an extra $1 or $2 off the item. Another customer friendly service particularly beneficial to us diehard bargain hunters is the “wish list” of your account. Spiegel not only keeps you aware of the current status of your wish list and lists any further reductions, but if an item that was unavailable on your list comes back into stock, they will relist it on your wish list. Markdown Mom just purchased a pair of stylish suede scrunch winter boots, suggested retail of $119, for $24.99, minus the extra 25% off and you have an incredible in season bargain! Be sure to check often as Spiegel has daily “Today’s Steal” items in fashion & swimwear, shoes & accessories, and home decorating. Hot site!!!

POTTERY BARN [www.potterybarn.com] Sale on holiday items are limited and markdowns range from 30% to 50%. Clearance items are marked close to pre-Christmas savings. Pottery Barn has new shipping costs which gives the consumer a slight break. Items up totaling $50 or less have a $6.95 flat fee, etc. Best bet for pottery barn devotees is the sale on accessories; otherwise try Target.

JCREW [www.jcrew.com] JCrew is having a Winter Sale with an extra 25% off (on select items until 12/30/05 at 11:59PM EST). This is a good site for women size 18 or under. Markdown Mom did find some of the accessories around 32%+ of suggested retail, like shoes and slippers, then add the extra 25% off and it’s a better deal. Sizes are limited. Mostly smaller shoe sizes, but MDM did find a cozy pair of slippers and ballet style flats, and a winter boot in a size 12M! You may have to take time to hunt for the deep bargains, but it is worth it to get the JCrew look. (updated 12/29/05).

Online Specials forthe After Christmas Bargain Hunters

Online specials for the After Christmas Bargain Hunters KOHL’S [www.kohls.com] Up to 60% off on online and instore merchandise including sale, regular and clearance items through 12/28. Receive a $10 kohl’s cash for every $50 spent online and instore. This includes clearance items, too. Good deal hunters!!! Plus 99 cent shipping per item [2 items shipping is $1.98 etc.]. Also, Home Sale Bonus Buys. 50 to 60% off select items as candles, art, decorative art, frames, throws, albums, corningware, pyrex, bakeware, service ware, decorative pillows and slipcovers. WILLIAMS-SONOMA [www.williams-sonoma.com] Online Winter Sale Up to 65% off on select items until o1/05/06. Markdown Mom is finding 30% to 70% off on select items including candy, kitchen gadgets, dinnerware, linens, and foodstuffs–example butternut squash puree–reg.$10, now $2.99. NORDSTROM [www.nordstrom.com] Usually the best buys at Nordstrom’s is on their “sale” section online where markdowns range from 30% to 70% or instore at Nordstrom’s Rack (check the bottom and click on Nordstroms Rack to get the latest dates for upcoming sales). The best deal at Nordstrom’s Rack before Christmas was their December 21 Tag Sale when you could get 25% to 60% off red dot markdowns and 50% to 60% off new arrival of shoes. Their next sale date is December 27 which they are calling Resolutions–big savings to start the new year off. Right now Nordstrom’s is having a Winter Sale of 25% to 50% off. Usually I wait for a substantial markdown of at least 50% off depending how hard the item is to come by, or how desparate I need it. Remember Bargain Hunters, unless it is one of a kind, you usually can wait for the best deal. However, having said that, if you find a 70% off bargain online or instore in your size, grab it as they go very fast since that is usually their bottom markdown line! If there are several items you are interested in purchasing, remember Nordstrom’s has a flat shipping fee of $5.00–which is the same charge for 1 item as for 5. An extra plus online is a wish list under “your account.” This really helps in your hunt since you can track the markdown and the availability of a particular item. And you can email the list to a relative or gift-giving friend. SPIEGEL [www.spiegel.com] Markdown Mom really likes this site for its clearance listings which include “Below Cost,” its style, and tremendous savings. Right now through 12/29/05 Spiegel is having an additional 25% off (use code 142 in final review of order) including recent markdowns. Markdown Mom has found that markdowns range from 15% to 75%. However, remember that the larger the savings, the more limited the sizes, color, and availability of an item. Although the current 25% markdown does not include shipping and handling (on clearance items this usually starts at $5.95+ and $2.50 handling), the additional markdown will usually cover this cost with an extra $1 or $2 off the item. Another customer friendly service particularly beneficial to us diehard bargain hunters is the “wish list” of your account. Spiegel not only keeps you aware of the current status of your wish list and lists any further reductions, but if an item that was unavailable on your list comes back into stock, they will relist it on your wish list. Markdown Mom just purchased a pair of stylish suede scrunch winter boots, suggested retail of $119, for $24.99, minus the extra 25% off and you have an incredible in season bargain! Be sure to check often as Spiegel has daily “Today’s Steal” items in fashion & swimwear, shoes & accessories, and home decorating. Hot site!!! POTTERY BARN [www.potterybarn.com] Sale on holiday items are limited and markdowns range from 30% to 50%. Clearance items are marked close to pre-Christmas savings. Pottery Barn has new shipping costs which gives the consumer a slight break. Items up totaling $50 or less have a $6.95 flat fee, etc. Best bet for pottery barn devotees is the sale on accessories; otherwise try Target. JCREW [www.jcrew.com] JCrew is having a Winter Sale with an extra 25% off (on select items until 12/30/05 at 11:59PM EST). This is a good site for women size 18 or under. Markdown Mom did find some of the accessories around 32%+ of suggested retail, like shoes and slippers, then add the extra 25% off and it’s a better deal. Sizes are limited. Mostly smaller shoe sizes, but MDM did find a cozy pair of slippers and ballet style flats, and a winter boot in a size 12M! You may have to take time to hunt for the deep bargains, but it is worth it to get the JCrew look. (updated 12/29/05).

Shop NBC / QVC / HSN

For super mark downs, make sure you watch Shop NBC, QVC and HSN. In addition, check their website. Last year you could get huge bargains.

HSN is offering an extra 30% off (12/31/05 deadline) on 250+ select items currently on sale. In a random sampling, MarkdownMom has found that with the extra percentage, markdowns of 60% off the suggested retail. Select Glam Ladies apparel by Ruth have major discounts of almost 70% plus free shipping.

If you have the time, browse through these bargains on purses, apparel, shoes, boots, and accessories including some pretty Storybook Knits sweaters. But stay to the first part of the listings since at the end many of the items are sold out.

At this writing ShopNBC bargains could be found in new markdowns in theClearance” section. Markdown Mom found 70% off regular ShopNBC prices on selected linens. It’s worth a look.

SHOPATHOME MARKDOWN MOM BARGAIN HUNTERS ALERT–MUST SEE TODAY. The best deals at this online site are clearance markdowns that offer stretch pay [more on stretch pays later, the good and the bad] or large markdowns with free shipping. For instance, if you like bling bling, today at 5:oo pm a 14kt. gold 24″ cafe au lait 8-9mm pearl necklace with a suggested retail of $149.90 is $58.84 on clearance (64% off) with 2 stretch pays of $27.42.

Real Pearls. In fact, you don’t have to wait until 5pm., you can go online, check on “what’s on tv now” and see what the deals are for each time slot. There are some real clearance bargains to be had on cooking, jewelry and crafts today. Additonally, on clearance items without stretch pay you can add the promo “GIFT” [until 01/31/06] and you get free shipping. The additional tax savings only sweetens the bargain. Markdown Mom likes this site.

Update 12/27/05 Peruse Jewelry Clearance at 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm. if you like gold bracelets and pearl earrings. Markdown Mom suggests checking out item#30039113, 14kt gold bracelet, item#30038842 for those looking for the large 14kt gold hoop earrings, and item#30039264 for basic white 9-10mm freshwater, leverback pearl earrings.

PARTY NECESSITY Looking for that perfect party item??? Markdown Mom recommends Stainless Steel Chocolate Fondue Fountain. Check out www.shopathometv.com for a great deal on this hot party item. Stainless steel chocolate fondue fountain for $63.96 and you have a choice of the sale price with free shipping (GIFT in promo code) or paying by 4 stretch pays x $15.99. Your guests will congregate around the fountain dipping fresh fruit,etc. A great centerpiece and conversation item.

Another great item from www.shopathome.tv is the Galvanized 24 Liter Cold Beverage bucket (Item #60001155). Can be used for upcoming events such as the Super Bowl or next summer. Regular $24.99 now $9.99 (61% off suggested retail). Remember if you buy before the01/31/06 put in [GIFT] in promo code and get free sh. CALLING ALL COOKS

Have you tried to find that elusive ceramic grater for ginger, etc., mentioned by a well-known television personality? Well MDM found one at www.shopathometv for $19.99 (Item 60001323) MDM will let you know if i find others at a better buy.