Clearance and Discount Items – Really a Value?

I’ve been known to be frugal.  I cringe at the price of things; lately that’s been the cost of binders.  My mind is boggled by how much they cost.  This leads me to search for items in discount stores and the clearance section of stores hoping to save my money.  I also frequently browse the dollar area of stores looking for great products at a discounted price.  And you might have already guessed this – there is often a high cost to purchases made in this way.

Let me continue with my search for 3-ring binders.  I went to countless stores searching for less expensive binders.  Some stores had binders at the same price as the typical office supply stores.  Other stores did have binders at a lower price, sometimes not at a significantly lower price.  A couple of stores had some binders in their clearance area.  I cannot tell you how much time I spent driving around and going shopping, which isn’t something I enjoy anyway.  It was all in the effort of saving money and I was motivated.  First off, how much did I really save by all the time, energy, and gas I spent on this quest?

Secondly and maybe more importantly, those less expensive binders I did buy are breaking apart – whether they came of the clearance areas or the discount stores.  I didn’t save myself anything.  Although I spent less money initially, the quality was poor and I needed to get more binders. (Thank goodness for Unikeep’s Ecobinders.)

This is one of the things we don’t always think about when we’re searching to save money – the clearance and discounted items are often less sturdy.  If we think about it, this makes sense – how can something be so inexpensive here and nowhere else?  It’s logical that the quality is less than the “normal.”

I was shopping with a friend and we were looking through the dollar items at a store.  I had stopped at a container, it was a style that I’ve been intrigued with yet don’t want to spend the money to get (at least until I have a strong purpose for it).  It was tempting; it was only a dollar.  I picked it up and was looking at it.  Then I noticed that one of the corners was all smashed up.  I put it down and moved down the aisle.  Then my friend saw the same container and got excited.  I commented how poorly it must be made since a corner was smashed in.  She too put the container back down and moved along.  If one was so easily smashed in, it really suggests the quality isn’t up to the standards of similar containers.

If you examine the discounted items at stores, you can offer discover why they are offering those items at a lower price.  Without naming a store, I was intrigued with a display table of discounted items from a familiar brand – ooh a chance to save some money.  I picked up several of the offerings to see if I needed any of them and played with them.  It quickly became apparent why they were discounted though if I hadn’t stopped to “play” with them, I wouldn’t have realized the poor quality.  It was quite unexpected, as I said, it was a familiar brand, yet whether these were factory problems or just bad design – the products were defective.  That didn’t stop the company from putting them on a nice display table in the middle of the store to tempt people into spending some money to get them.

Sometimes it’s not so easy to tell when something is poor quality, yet pausing to ask yourself, to consider the idea that if these items are being offered at such a reduced price there is likely to be something less than ideal about them.  Stores play on our desire to save money by enticing us with clearance and discounted items – “we’ll get such a deal.”  Even some of the binders I looked in the clearance areas of the office stores were there because of faulty design, which wasn’t apparent until I pulled it off the shelf and started to examine them.

Those discounted and clearance items can certainly be tempting.  I’ve been burned by an impulse decision to save some money and grabbing the item off the shelf and into my cart.  Now, I’ve learned and I closely examine each item for defects and hints of lesser quality.  (Heck this is a good idea no matter where the item is found, as I’ve found poor quality items sitting in their section.)  I haven’t stopped exploring those clearance areas – you can find good deals there – although it’s wise to approach it cautiously.

I hope you will consider “why” a company would be selling something for such a discounted price the next time a clearance item calls to you.  🙂

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