How To: Holiday Deal-Hunting

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Basically everything is on “sale” in December, so its difficult to know when you’re actually scoring a sweet deal. How do you find the best deal among deals? The internet’s vast, but with a little effort you can find incredible deals for considerably less than you may presume. So before you head to the mall to shop ‘til you drop this season, peek around the web first to save the strain on your wallet.

Third Party Retailers. Brands spend millions crafting an image, and the many of the preferred, upscale brands tend to also be the most expensive. When you visit a brand’s website the brand has all the leverage because you came to them. However, there are a ton of third party digital retailers in just about every niche imaginable. Generally they don’t have a psychical store and carry less overhead; at the end of the year they’re trying to liquidate stock to clear room for next year’s inventory — and often third party discounts are less expensive than the holiday discounts offered by name brands on official sites.

For example on Oakley Sunglasses, the page features various frames that are more than half off of those featured on Oakley’s official page. This is also the case with other sunglasses brands such as SPY, Maui Jim, Armani and more. It takes some digging to track down these items, but every industry and every retailers will have overstock in different areas. I recommend finding a brand/item you want on the official site and then comparing it to five third-party retailers.

The Big Retailers. Big fish such as Amazon, Walmart, Target etc. are willing to lose money on products in order to clear out inventory and bolster their numbers in other areas. It does require more work to find deals at these websites, and you’ll have to sift through more pages and track more products. Often the best deals are not what you are specifically looking for, so it’s akin to digital window shopping. You will find astounding random deals on random brands across all sorts of clothing and makeup lines. You may not have originally wanted a particular product but when it’s 80% off retail, It’s pretty hard to pass by. If nothing else, it’s a good resource for stocking stuffers.

Pro tip: To find the best deals quickly, do a Google power search. Go to your search bar and type – site:amazon.com “80% off”. This will only show you pages on amazon.com that have a product that is 80% off. Play around with different numbers and sites and you will definitely come across something that you want at an insanely low price point.

DIY, Indie & Niche Sites. If you want to find something truly unique, consider bypassing all companies and go straight to the designers themselves. For example, Etsy has a fantastic women’s clothing selection — and not only are these items totally unique (and cute!) but are generally hand-made and of high quality. Most of the freelance designers and artists have a small stock of popular items they need to get rid off. You have to be quick though, because indie sellers don’t have a ton of stock, so the deals run out fast. I just bought some rustic, barn-door sliding hardware for more than 50% off. They sold out of that particular product in 2 hours (but check back if you’re into that style because there will be more sales). You have to be proactive about staying on top of searches. I found the deal by power-searching Rustica’s website because I knew I wanted something rustic, I just didn’t know what.

Combined with google power searching, you can find absolutely stunning clothes, accessories and custom makeup for crazy cheap. Stuff you know you won’t see your friend wearing too at a party the next week.

If you want some more ideas of sites like Etsy you can find 10 alternatives here:
http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5287-etsy-alternatives-handmade-sites.html

Rental Stores. This one doesn’t work as well for clothing as other options, but still a worth looking into. Essentially you want buy products from places that rent those products. Often at the end of the year a rental place will by the same product over again and sell the used one to keep their rentals new. They usually take really good care of the product because it’s their livelihood. But they sell the old rentals for next to nothing because it’s usually heavily used.

For example I bought a Cannon 60d camera from this camera hire site for 70% off. When it arrived it looked to me in perfect condition and I haven’t had one problem with it since. I actually use it to take Instagram pictures, as they always turn out better than my phone pics.

If you’re looking for clothing: theaters, movie studios, photography studios and such will frequently have very high-end, name brand clothing that has been worn once or twice by a model or actor. It just takes tracking down an email and asking if they’re selling any props. I’ve found some great deals this way, and in reality it didn’t take that much effort.

Amazon Alerts. This is more of a overall tip but it doesn’t work for a lot of the indie stuff from sites like Esty. Amazon’s shopping cart will remember things you put in it and not purchase, and alert you if there is a price change or better deal. So a good practice is put all the products you want into your shopping cart on Amazon and don’t purchase them. As you deal hunt for the items elsewhere, if Amazon ends up slashing a price on something you want, Amazon will email you. Most of the time other sites will be more affordable, but when Amazon does have a good deal, it’s usual the best deal — because they stock so much stuff across every industry that when they need to get rid of something, they make it super cheap and affordable.

Another site with the same function is http://www.overstock.com. And that, dear reader, is how you find the best deals when everything is a deal during the holiday season. Happy shopping!

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