BBB Tips on Bargain Shopping

August 03, 2017

The saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." All of the garage and estate sales that pop up each weekend and the bargain hunters who frequent them prove the saying still rings true. However, deals can be found beyond weekends and yard sales. Better Business Bureau® Serving Eastern Oklahoma has this advice for helping you score savings anytime, anywhere.

Odds and ends on a table with a wooden background

Yard Sales & Second Hand Shops

  1. Shop in pricier neighborhoods: If you're looking for clothing, kitchen appliances, or furniture you are more likely to find well-known brands and good quality items at a discount in high-priced neighborhoods. It also doesn't hurt to look at second-hand shops located in zip codes of more upscale housing and shopping. Some name brand stores will donate old stock to shops that benefit charity organizations. (Good Housekeeping)
  2. Wait until the end of the day: While it’s true that the early bird gets the worm, it’s also more likely that the bird will pay more for that worm, or in our case bargain item. Vendors usually have high hopes for their sales earlier in the day and price them accordingly. However, as the day proceeds, the thought of packing everything away and storing it may have them reconsidering their pricing. Consider starting your day early so you can scout out multiple sales. If you like an item, get the sellers phone number and call them later in the day to see if it is still there. Then, haggle for a lower price. This strategy works well when searching for larger items or a set that includes lots of pieces. (HGTV)
  3. Search for imperfections: Finding a smudge, scratch, rip or run may deter some shoppers but skilled bargain hunters know they can save you big money. This tip also works when shopping in department stores as company policy usually prevents them from selling damaged items at full price. It’s important to know which flaws you are capable of fixing and ensuring the repair isn’t more costly than the discount you’re receiving. (Consumer Reports


Woman with shopping bags going up an escalator in a mall

Department Stores

  1. Hunt out savings: Smart shoppers are just that smart. It often involves a lot of work and preparation. (WikiHow)
  • Don’t get rid of junk mail immediately. First scan weekly ads for coupons and sales. Check the backs of receipts as some stores include coupons there.
  • Sign up for your favorite businesses newsletters and email coupons. It may be easier to get a separate email for these because your regular inbox could sort them into your junk folder and the offers could bury important emails.
  • Follow your favorite stores on social media. They sometimes offer exclusive sales to their online followers.
  • Ask about price matching and have coupons, sale ads or online sales on hand to offer show sales associates proof of the lower prices.
  1. Learn Sales Cycle: Typically shops put out new stock and mark down old items on a particular day of the week. Knowing this fact will give you the first pick of sale items. While new items are still at full price, items are often marked down after six weeks. So, if you spot a new item you like, set a reminder to come back and search for it in the sales rack later. The restocking usually occurs in the middle of the week, which happens to be a slower time for shopping. This tip is also true of thrift shops and second-hand clothing stores. (Good Housekeeping)
  2. Talk to store employees: Many sales people work on commission, which gives them an incentive to inform you of the best deals in the shop. They want to make sure you go home with a shopping bag so be upfront and ask them what their best deal is. Ask for special discounts like for military members, teachers, and students. (USA Today)


Hand holding a credit card near a laptop screen while the other hand types.

Online Shopping

  1. Abandon your cart: The process of filling up your online shopping cart with items is pretty simple but instead of checking out immediately, consider closing out of your browser and waiting a day or two. You may decide that you no longer want the items. Even better, you may get an email from the retailer reminding you that there are still items in your cart and offering you a coupon or promotion in hopes of making the sale. (USA Today)
  2. Use apps and web browser extensions: Technology has changed the way we shop and makes it easier to find deals. Some web browser extensions will sift through the Internet to find any discount codes. There are also apps that offer coupons or even money back opportunities at particular stores. BBB® strongly encourages consumers to review these apps and extensions on our website to ensure it is trustworthy before you enter your financial information. (AOL)
  3. Browse second-hand sale sites: It seems like a new person-to-person sale site pops up each day. You've likely heard of eBay or Craigslist, but it is worth it to do your research and check out a few others to ensure you find the best deal in your area. These sites can be worrisome because you never know who you’re dealing with so it’s important to be prepared to ask lots of questions to assess the condition of the item. It is also important to take precautions to ensure your safety when meeting up to complete the transaction. (The Street)

Review BBB’s Safe Online Shopping Tips


A shopping bag being handed over to a customer very tight shot only hands showing.

General Rules to Follow

  1. Have a plan: Before you go shopping make a list of items that you may need like home décor, kitchen appliances, and specific items of clothing. This list makes it easier to have a goal when shopping, rather than browsing aimlessly. By planning, you can look up items online similar to the ones on your list and get an idea of comparable costs. Doing research will allow you to set a budget for your shopping list. Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts at big box stores and haggling can be effective at small local shops and yard sales. You may consider only taking cash when you go shopping to ensure you don't over spend. (WikiHow)
  2. Shop off-season. Buying a big winter jacket in the spring or a bathing suit in the fall may not sound like a wise choice, but it can make financial sense. Often stores will mark down the off season items they are trying to get rid of to make room for new products. Consider purchasing classic items that will still be in style next season. This tip applies to clothes, but it can also apply to seasonal home décor. (Money Crashers)
  3. Keep researching prices after buying: Even if you’ve purchased a product, brought it home and love it, you can still save money. Many stores will give you a refund on your purchase if it goes on sale within a certain time following your transaction. Be sure to ask about the policy ahead of time and keep your receipts handy. (Good Housekeeping)