Lessons learned … per-store strategies to remember all year long – Part One of many

Based on my experience, and saving details of sales and specials all year long, I’ve compiled a list of how to save money at each of the stores I shop during the year. Unfortunately, some of the advice is “only around Christmas time”, but, for what it’s worth, here’s what I’ve found:

Best Buy – don’t bother until Black Friday. Then, only shop the best deals. You can sign up for services ahead of time that will track this for you, or you can just look for the leaked ad scan when it comes out sometime around October or possibly early November. In general, I don’t find that Best Buy really has the best prices, so unless I get a significant coupon, I do not even enter that store during the year. Online, Black Friday, only.

Vitacost – wait for the BOGO. Don’t fall for the fake BOGO, which is “Buy One, get One 50% off”. That’s only 25% off per item, which isn’t that great of a deal unless you qualify for free shipping. The true BOGO happens at least twice a year, hold out for that.

Bath and Body Works – absolute best deals are November and December. Since stuff like soap and body lotion keep longer than a year, stock up then. They have a pretty good sale in mid-year, usually “Buy 3 get 3 free”, which works fine too. The deep discounts closer to holiday shopping times are better. If you are spending more than $5 for ANY item, it’s too much. Also, watch for coupons and percent-off deals to get the per-item cost below $5. Many items will go on sale for $3 or $2.50. When they do, buy them.

Bed, Bath and Beyond – good all year. I save up the $5 off $15 and 20% off one item deals and use them regularly. I don’t even pay attention to their sales because there are so many things I need from that store. It’s everything from bottles that hold loose spices, to towels, to actual appliances. You could wait for something to be at a sale price if you have a wish list or a registry, then see if the sale price is a better deal than the 20% or $5 off. Use (or not) the provided coupon accordingly. They also offer extra coupons by text message, sign up for that.

Anna’s Linens – they do a 30%, 40%, 50% sale once during the year and once store-wide right before Christmas. I waited as long as I could, because I had some specific things I wanted to buy and their inventory was getting low, and I’m not kidding, the NEXT DAY the same items went on sale for 50% off. They offer some email coupons on an unpredictable basis, two this past year, but several the year before, so grab those when you can. I don’t understand their sales cycle and from this point on, I will not buy anything less than 30% off. Also, if you shop in the store, always check the clearance items. You’ll see some things that you can’t distinguish from current stock, but they clear it out.

Kitchen Collection – a few years ago, they always had an email issued regularly with 20% off one item. I didn’t see that at all this year. I only go in that store to check the clearance items, where I’ve found good deals, but I don’t know that their advertised sales are really that good. In-store only for me until they bring back coupons.

Yankee Candle – best deals are around the holiday times, when you get a straight BOGO and/or dollars off a deal. As far as good-smelling candles go, these are terribly expensive, with some dollar store candles offering a reasonable facsimile. You would get a Yankee Candle because it really is the best and longest-lasting, because you like to buy American, because you are brand loyal, or for the prestige of giving an expensive present to a cherished friend or family member who will understand that you COULD have gone to the dollar store and spent $3.50, but you spent $28 instead. If you have to get Yankee Candle, go around the holiday times. Both stores and online offer BOGO and coupons.

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