Bargain shopping has always made practical financial sense. But now, with the economy in the tank, it’s a necessity. So we scoured the Sacramento area, searching for great buys for every type of shopper, whether your holy grail is a shiny new bauble for less than 10 bucks or a designer sofa at deep discount. We also talked to store owners, professionals who shop for a living, and individuals who plain know a good deal when they see one to uncover the strategies, stores and sales events that save them money. Terrific bargains, it turns out, are everywhere. Here’s our tip sheet on how and where to find them.
GARDEN AND YARD
For five decades, Panama Pottery (4421 24th St.) has held its annual sale on the first weekend of June. That’s when shoppers can find 25 to 50 percent off the previous year’s inventory and 20 percent off just about everything else, including soil, pottery and art.
Emigh’s Casual Living (3535 El Camino Ave.) holds its pre-season patio sale every year around the end of February or beginning of March—an ideal time to scoop up a bargain on patio furniture from makers such as Tropitone and Kettler, and grills from Weber and Lynx.
Two more spots that sell patio furniture at pleasing price points: Ikea (700 Ikea Court, West Sacramento), where you can find a chaise lounge made of acacia for $129, and Kmart (multiple locations), which offers all-weather resin wicker loveseats, cushion included, for $190 and up.
Through a partnership with SMUD, the Sacramento Tree Foundation (sactree.com) will give up to 10 free—yes, free!—shade trees to Sacramento County residents. The nonprofit will even send an arborist to your home or business to help site and select them for you.
FURNITURE AND HOME
For draperies, Sacramento interior designer Cheryl Holben recommends Haus (2512 J St.), which she calls “one of the best untapped resources in Sacramento” for well-constructed, floor-to-ceiling window coverings. Haus’ offerings, says Holben, cost a quarter to half as much as custom-made drapes.
January is the time to pick up deals on furniture floor samples at Crate & Barrel (1151 Galleria Blvd., Roseville). Discounts start at 20 percent off and go as high as 60 percent as the sale progresses.
University Art (2601 J St.; 2610 Marconi Ave.) holds storewide sales the third Thursday in March and October, taking at least 20 percent off the entire inventory—including framing. Also, sign up online (universityart.com) to learn about framing promotions throughout the year.
A resource for affordable, one-of-a-kind art: Southside Art Center Gallery (2310 Watt Ave., Unit 435), which sells works made by developmentally disabled adults.
Home Office—Get toner and ink for your printer at a fraction of the cost by going to professional refill centers. Refill Tech (2304 Arden Way) promises savings of 40 percent on your refilled cartridges.
Sacramento makeup artist Sherri Morris swears by Dollar Tree (multiple locations) for quality cosmetic sponges, which will set you back just a buck for a pack of 28. She also frequents the super-discount retailer for makeup remover wipes, lotions (especially her favorite lavender-scented cream) and hair accessories such as ponytail holders and headbands.
Because department store cosmetics virtually never go on sale, bargain shoppers’ best bet is to purchase items when their favorite brand is offering a free gift. Another tip: Beauty chains Sephora and Ulta both have customer loyalty programs that give discounts to members.
Brooks Brothers Factory Store at Folsom Premium Outlets (13000 Folsom Blvd., Folsom) is chock-full of deals for the dapper dresser. Quality non-iron dress shirts go for $59.50 for men and $69.50 for women, while men’s suits are sometimes two for $499. The store also holds seasonal sale events, including a winter clearance sale on Presidents Day weekend.
HITTING THE BARGAIN BULL’S-EYE
What can you say about a store where you can buy a box of laundry detergent and a Rodarte dress? Target has cornered the market on budget-friendly, stylish clothing and home goods—a testament to the chain’s genius of marrying high design with low prices.
“The stigma of shopping at Target is completely gone,” says local image consultant Karri Grant.
Target’s GO International program has brought modern, affordable designs from Tracy Feith, Thakoon, Jonathan Saunders, Jean Paul Gaultier and Zac Posen to its racks. “It offers the customer an opportunity to buy some edgier items at a great price point,” says local fashion consultant Debbie O’Hearn.
But is it smart to fill your wardrobe with the bull’s-eye brand? “It’s a great place to buy disposables” like T-shirts, says Grant. Other reasons to love Target: a wide selection of darling dresses; a goldmine of cute maternity clothes; and enough hip-looking belts, bags and scarves to keep your wardrobe looking fresh. For items you hope to wear a while, your best bet is to pay a little more for durable fabrics and garment construction that can stand the test of time.
The member perks card from Capital Public Radio (capradio.org) is a must-have for deal seekers. A tax-deductible donation to the station entitles members to discounts at dozens of businesses across the region. A small sampling of the offers: 15 percent off at Alphabet Moon toy store in Davis; 20 percent off at Arareity Jewelers in Sacramento; 10 percent off at Talini’s Garden Center & Nursery in Sacramento. And it doesn’t stop there. The perks card gets you discounts for theater and dance performances, movie tickets, yoga and fitness studios, museum admissions, wineries, book and music stores, restaurants, bike shops and more.
At sporting goods retailer REI (multiple locations), $20 buys a lifetime membership into the co-op and entitles you to an annual refund check totaling about 10 percent of the value of your purchases that year. REI’s members-only “garage sale” events—held the first Saturday in March, June, September and December—are when returned and discontinued items are sold for deep discounts. Shoes, for example, go for $15 or less; other items are marked down according to their condition. REI members also receive discounts on rentals, ski and bike repair work, and special events. Become a WFamily member at Westfield’s Downtown Plaza and Galleria at Roseville and you can receive discounts every Wednesday at selected stores. Discounts at the Galleria include $10 off a $50 purchase at Stride Rite, 15 percent off regularly priced merchandise at Steve Madden, and 15 percent off your entire purchase at The Children’s Place.
Go wild at the Sacramento Zoo gift shop (3930 W. Land Park Drive), which carries a wide selection of stuffed animals and other animal-themed toys and offers a 10 percent discount to zoo members. Individual memberships start at $40 annually and are tax-deductible.
DEALS AT A GLANCE
Sure, big-box discount chains and outlet stores are home to some irresistible deals. But rifling through the racks to find them is not for the timid. Fear not! With this trusty guide, you can navigate the bargain-bin jungle with ease.
Nordstrom Rack—Where last season’s items go to die
Great for Designer denim from Joe’s Jeans, Rock & Republic, 7 For All Mankind, Paige, True Religion and more; shoes from labels such as Clarks, Cole Haan, Enzo Angiolini, Nine West and Franco Sarto; men’s suits and ties; sunglasses
Marshalls—For the patient shopper only
Great for Workout gear from Nike and Adidas; designer dresses from BCBG and Calvin Klein; men’s polo shirts; picture frames; stationery
T.J. Maxx—Great finds if you have the time
Great for Samsonite luggage; New Balance running shoes; cookware from Emile Henry and Calphalon
Loehmann’s—Communal dressing rooms—need we say more?
Great for Designer labels like Elie Tahari, DKNY, Cynthia Steffe; good selection of swimwear, lingerie and coats
Kohl’s—A lot like Mervyn’s, only not
Great for Affordable collections from Vera Wang and Dana Buchman
Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th—When it’s good, this outlet store’s really good
Great for High-end designer shoes, handbags and sunglasses
Tuesday Morning—Somewhat unpredictable inventory but worth a look
Great for Toys from makers like Melissa & Doug; some sporting goods; nice lotions and soaps; home décor and bedding
HomeGoods—Marshall’s home section on steroids
Great for Ceramic tableware from Deruta; bakeware; throw pillows; bedding; towels; mirrors; lamps
Ikea—A maddening labyrinth of modern design
Great for Glassware; kitchen gadgets; light fixtures; area rugs, pillows and comforters; kids’ furniture, bedding and toy storage; picture frames