I love saving money--the more money I save, the happier I am!
Overstock Shopping Wherever You Live
Although I am particularly fortunate in where I live, almost any medium-to-large sized city has a secret, and I am going to let you in on that secret to save a whole lot of money for you and your family. It's a little-known fact that almost any medium-to-large sized city is either a marketing, manufacturing, or distribution center for some types of products (and sometimes services, too). By learning how to find the businesses involved in the marketing, manufacturing, or distribution of these products, you can save significant amounts of money and get sometimes better choice than you can at even the most expensive stores, including exclusive items not meant for sale to the general public.
How can you get these bargains? Overstocks. Overstock shopping can mean you pay as little as ten cents on the dollar for the manufacturer's overstocks.
What Are Overstocks?
These are not damaged or second-quality goods. Overstocks are first-quality merchandise and usually high-end (such as in designer clothing or bedding) merchandise. What happens is that the manufacturer overestimates demand for a product and sometimes not every item made will sell. Sometimes the items don't even get delivered if they sell more poorly than the store originally estimated. Rather than pay to have the items destroyed, the manufacturer or distributor or one of the middlemen in the chain will send the items to be sold (or sell them in their own distribution centers) for pennies on the dollar, to recoup whatever losses they can. And the manufacturer's loss is your gain. You can save up to 90% off the original price of an item!
The essential tool you will need for this type of overstock research is the Yellow Pages. Not the online version; get your hand on a copy of the paper Yellow Pages. If you can, get a copy of the business White Pages, too.
Now flip through the index of the Yellow Pages. You are on the lookout for the following terms: distribution, wholesale, sample, outlet. (Beware--many businesses that call themselves "outlets" are really just retailers and can be as expensive as high-end retail stores!) Make a note of these businesses and what products they offer. Turn to the Business White Pages, and scan for the same words in any business names. Mark the businesses, because you are on to the next step.
If you can't get hold of a Yellow Pages or White Pages, try searching online for your ZIP code and "distribution," "wholesale," or "sample." Again, make sure that outlets really are outlets, and not just calling themselves that (I have found "outlets" that had higher prices than the department stores!).
Now is the time to start calling those wholesalers and distribution centers. Ask a simple question: "Do you sell to the public?" If yes, well and good. If the person on the phone answers no, and does not volunteer the information, ask them if they know another place that does. Write down the information and save it because this is vital to your next step of researching overstocks.
Scoping out Sellers
Now is the time to get out your map. Even if a warehouse, distribution center, buyers' sample center or wholesaler answered "No" to your question about selling to the public, mark down the address on a map. Once you have them all mapped out, you are going to get in your car and scope out the neighborhood. Why? Because wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers are usually all grouped closely together to cut down on shipping costs. You will be able to find places you missed. Mark down their phone numbers or business names and call them up and ask the same question. "Do you sell to the public?" "Do you know who does?"
Note: these places will not be in nice, upscale neighbourhoods. The usual precautions apply: take your cell phone with you and keep it charged, and don't go alone. Although in forty years of overstock shopping I have never had a problem, remember what kind of neighbourhoods you are going into and be aware of your surroundings. This won't be like Nordstroms, but the prices won't be like Nordstroms, either.
Ready to Shop
First off, wear old clothes. These stores are working warehouses, distribution centers, and manufacturers, so the store is not going to be pretty, and may not even be air-conditioned or heated. Take your digital camera and a notebook, or your smartphone. Start by going to the stores you have identified as selling to the public. If you see something you like, take a picture and write it down in a notebook, including the price. Go to as many places as you can, as fast as you can. If after visiting two or three places, you see a great deal, go ahead and get it but remember that you normally won't be able to return anything. While you are there, ask the staff questions--they are usually happy to supply you with information (and sometimes these places have a mailing list with special offers, too!).
Most large cities will have several neighborhoods where these wholesale and distribution centers are. Be sure to visit and log each one!
Did You Find Something?
How Much Can You Save?
Overstocks and unclaimed merchandise is usually new in the box. I routinely buy new leather designer shoes for $10; silk fabric that retails for $120 a yard for $4 a yard; and clothing at ten cents on the dollar or less (I get annoyed if I have to pay twenty cents on the dollar for something I really, really want, like the time I bought two $100 cashmere sweaters for $20 each). By learning what is in your town, you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. Some women have even begun leading shopping tours for others, and making hundreds of dollars a day for teaching other people where to shop!
Bargain Shopping Tourism
By coordinating with your friends who live in other towns, you can take great advantage of your visits to see them, or even help each other out by buying overstocks for each other. Simply set up a website where you and your friends can post photos and deals, and help each other save money with local overstocks! When visiting friends who have researched their local overstocks, plan a day for overstock shopping!
If you're planning a trip to Dallas, Texas, don't forget to check out bargain shopping in Dallas (including maps to help you find the best bargains there!).
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 classicalgeek
Tell Everyone Your Experience with Bargain Shopping!
Johnny Parker from Birkenhead, Wirral, North West England on February 02, 2011:
Can't believe I'm the first to comment on this. It's something I could use for ebay. Great advice, thank you.