Month: December 2011

Holiday Shopping Clearance — The Preparation!


I got my career and work experience start in retail — and I’ve spend many a rainy afternoon in the malls shopping for deals — so I have some tips that might be helpful to you if you’re looking to join all those folks out there trying to get a jump on next year’s deals… and save some bucks doing it.

I’m going to share my strategy with you.

Before you even think about going out shopping — you need a plan. Your plan should consist of THREE main parts: What do you need, What do you have space to store, and what’s your budget.

I used to work for a “big box retailer” right out of college and its tempting just buy whatever is on clearance. Well I learned the hard way that I ended up with my pick of the clearance shelves, but it was either stuff that I didn’t need or had no place to store — and if you don’t need it, guess what? You’re not saving money.

I start out with what do I have space to store. When I was living in an apartment I decided that I could have 3 storage boxes max of winter/holiday stuff. I just didn’t have a lot of storage space in some of my apartments and it was a pain to move. So in the early days, I didn’t even have a tree — but some lights and other decorations that I could put around my place. When I moved to a house I uped the number of boxes and since I’ve moved again, and I’ve increased it by one more box. Decide what you can dedicate to storage first.

Then I take a look at what I need. True story. About 5 years ago, I caught a 90% off Christmas clearance at a Target store. You don’t see clearance go down that far typically — but this store still had a decent selection of stuff. At 90% off I bought a cart load of wrapping paper. I joke that I have enough wrapping paper to wrap my grandkids presents in — and I haven’t started having kids yet. 🙂 So while tempting, I don’t buy wrapping paper. The ONE exception is if I can find “neutral” paper that I can use to wrap gifts in year round — so things with bubbles, stripes, plain paper — and I just buy a few of them. I also look for themes. Since I have a retail background I’ve always brought home stuff, even if I didn’t need it. My holiday collection has been growing since I was 16. However when I started to get more “serious” .. well rather conscience of growing it, I started to look at themes. I liked red and silver together, so initially I focused on buying clearance items that were red and silver. Then after several years I had tons of silver, so I started to do blue so that I could switch it up a bit. And this year I got some greens and pinks for a different look. Remember, you can build a collection over time — and it helps to focus on key pieces or colors. 

Finally, I set a budget. Its easy to go overboard if you haven’t nailed down the other two points — but remember, you’re looking for deals so the idea isn’t to break the bank. Set something that is realistic. Most years, there is no reason for me to go over 100 dollars — unless I’m looking for a big item like a new tree. Although the current tree that I have I got for 30 bucks — and I a complete ornament set for 30 bucks that I got the year before — so deals are out there to be had.

So now you have some work to do!

Come back for the next piece to this series — WHEN, WHAT, and WHERE to buy — if you think that you’re going to make a marathon trip the day after Christmas you’re missing the point — and some really good deals!