Monday, January 4, 2010

steals and deals, the how-to.

lately i feel like i've hit the jackpot at the stores i've gone to. if i could put a visual to it for you, you'd be flipping through a magazine... a fashion magazine for kids... and you'd flip to a page of me sitting in the middle of my living room, throwing a huge pile of kids clothes and shoes over my head, with an expression of glee on my face. you know, a standard totally cheesy fashion ad.

how do i do it? well, that's what this note is about. (and i will be working on it for a few days... you know how it goes being interrupted by the kids all the time...) there are several strategies that i work with, and (lucky you) i will share them, so you can get your kids clothes super-duper cheap, too!

before you even leave the house, check to make sure you have a coupon! you don't? try and put in the name of the store you're going to and check to see if any reliable coupons come up. or check to see if coupon sites have heard of any specials... i'll get you a great list of coupon sites.

should i start by store? let's see. my fave place to get kids clothes is children's place, mostly because i can get great clothes post-season (or pre-season, if you're into looking ahead) for rock-bottom prices. when i'm at children's place, i scope out the stuff that is brand new, so i have stuff to look forward to come sale time. also, when brand new stuff is just put out on the floor, they model complete looks... you can see what pieces go with what, or how they put a look together. i also get ideas for colors, and what is being considered matchable. (sometimes the prints and patterns at c.p. can get kind of wild, so it's good to have an idea of what they were putting together.) i don't buy anything at the retail stores in the malls... only outlet malls. and i never buy anything from children's place online... the deals at the store are usually cheaper by several dollars.
after i check out the new stuff briefly, i breeze straight to the back, and check out stuff by price point. i generally start with the lowest price point i can find... sometimes as low as 99 cents. i buy ahead two or three sizes, and disregard the season of something. i figure that if i buy a t-shirt and it's not the right season (say danny hits that size in the dead of winter), i'll put a long sleeve tee under it, or use it as a layer in an outfit. if i buy a sweater and danny is that size in the summer, i can gift it to a friend who may be able to use it. i keep the tags on everything i buy, but take the size stickers off of things, in case they will end up being stowed for a while into the future... that sticky stuff is a pain to get off of clothes if it melts into the fabric.
so i work up the price points, getting to the more pricey items. and having a boy and a girl, i do this for both sides of the store. after combing the racks, i check out the bins in the middle of the store, where shoes and socks and pj's are usually thrown. i've gotten winter hats as low as 19 cents in these bins, and shoes as low as 1.99. and if i'm unsure of any price, c.p. outlets have scanners to check the prices, with the price you pay at cashwrap reflected on the scanner (they do the deductions for you, in other words).
some ways to save at c.p.? sign up for birthday emails... that will get you 15% off purchases, including clearance items. sign up for their credit card and get even more savings at the register. sometimes the outlet mall itself will run coupons for stores, sign up at the service desk and ask for the list. check kids magazines for coupons. and sometimes when you shop, they will give you coupons to come back. c.p. is known for their coupons that you can share with a friend... so i give to neighbors and family and even the people behind me in line! check to see if it's a multi-use coupon, and keep it if possible for another trip (the bday one is one-time use, but you can print it off multiple times).
keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to be in the store to find out the deals. keep the phone number of your local c.p. handy, and call to find out what current price points are. they are generally happy to tell you, but i find it's a faster call if you call during the day when they might not have much traffic, or about 15 minutes after opening (that's 10:15, generally).

also, it doesn't hurt to befriend your local salespeople. they like to make people happy, so if they do anything that makes you happy, let them know. even better, grab the name of their district manager and let that person know how much you loved your shopping experience. i will tell you that i remembered every person who gave me a glowing report either to my managers, or my district manager, and i would go out of my way to help make their shopping experience that much better. i got to know what kinds of things they were looking for, what kinds of styles they loved, and would call them if something i knew they would love came in. the salespeople can be your best friends... your best shopping allies... if you go out of your way to tell them how delightful they are and how much you appreciate their help. then you can ask them for the heads-up for special savings or events in the store, and if they know anything they'll give you the low-down.

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