Everyone loves a bargain. Here’s our indispensable guide to saving money when you head out to shop.
Sacramento magazine ransacked the racks and prowled the sales floors of dozens of local retailers for the best deals on everything from electronics to wedding gowns. From tried-and-trues (Folsom Premium Outlets, Tuesday Morning) to surprise sources (Nordstrom’s children’s shoe department), we present a roundup of places where you can save some serious dough.
Light Fixtures–At Lumens Annex–the outlet store operated by high-end lighting retailer Lumens Light + Living in midtown–prices are reduced 30, 40, even 50 percent. Recently, a retro-styled pendant lamp from Italian manufacturer Kartell was priced at $119, down from the original $269, and a lacquered torchiere by Spain’s Vibia was reduced from $2,000 to $795. Lumens’ stylish home accessories, from wine holders to place mats, also show up at the Annex for up to 60 percent off. Lumens Annex, 1906 L St., Sacramento; (916) 444-5585; lumens.com
Bed linens–Tuesday Morning stores are the place to find high-quality sheet sets that are marked down substantially. For instance, a sea-foam green set of 500-thread-count Barbara Barry Dream percale sheets was recently priced at $120, down from the original $362. An even better deal was a set of 500-thread-count sheets by Italia, marked down from $780 to $169. Tuesday Morning, six area locations; tuesdaymorning.com
Women’s fashion accessories–Nordstrom is known for its high-quality, pricey goods. But if you’re willing to shop in the juniors department (known as Brass Plum), you can snag some great deals on handbags, jewelry and accessories. Recent finds included a chunky pearl-and-ribbon necklace for $16, a slouchy white-pleather hobo bag for $28 and a stylish watch with a faux-croc band and diamant bezel for $14. And an assortment of fashion-forward Jackie O-style sunglasses were just $10. Who knew Nordstrom could be so affordable? Nordstrom, two area locations; nordstrom.com
Electronics–It’s not the Apple Store–in fact, Fry’s Electronics is the polar opposite of hand-holding, customer-
centric Apple. But next to going online, Fry’s may be the best place to get deals on just about anything electronic, from raw motherboards to home-theater systems. And aside from its generally low prices, Fry’s offers some substantial discounts on open-box items (returns and floor samples). One recent example: a Samsung 46-inch high-definition TV, marked down from $2,799 to $1,999. Fry’s Electronics, two area locations; frys.com
* Cheap Tip–At Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in the old Army Depot, you can pick up new and used building supplies, furniture, lighting and other home-related items, donated by local builders and retailers, at 30 to 70 percent off. All proceeds benefit Sacramento Habitat for Humanity. 8351 Umbria Ave., Building 5, Bay 1, Sacramento; (916) 440-1215
Kitchenware–While East Bay Restaurant Supply serves the restaurant trade, it also caters to the home cook looking for a bargain. How does a Le Creuset 2.75-quart soup pot, regularly $129 in most stores, sound at $83? Or how about a nine-piece, stainless steel All-Clad cookware set, list price $900, for $445? There are similar deals on products by Cuisinart, KitchenAid, Waring and other brands in this 17,000-square-foot store. East Bay also holds regular sales, particularly its Summer Expo during the first week in August, when prices drop even more. East Bay Restaurant Supply, 522 N. 12th St., Sacramento; (916) 440-0620; eastbayrestaurantsupply.com
Eyeglasses–A good place to spy a bargain on spectacles is Site for Sore Eyes, a Berkeley-based retailer with three locations in the Sacramento region. You’ll find a selection of half-price frames from lesser-known designers Modo, Elle and Charmant at $99. When you throw in occasional promotions such as a free eye exam and a second pair free, or a storewide, half-off frames sale, the savings can really add up. Site for Sore Eyes, three area locations; siteforsoreeyes.com
Major home appliances–This past winter, Standards of Excellence, the retailer of high-end home appliances, opened a clearance center within its Del Paso Road showroom. There, you can buy floor models, scratch-and-dents and products that were used in live demos in the showroom. You have to ask a salesperson to take you back, and it’s a small area, but there are some real bargains to be had. We saw a Bosch stainless steel double oven marked down from $3,149 to $1,735 and a Frigidaire microwave down from $299 to $189. Standards of Excellence, 1200 Del Paso Road, Suite 150, Sacramento; (916) 515-0525; standardsofexcellence.com
Kitchen cabinets–The biggest-ticket item in a kitchen remodel is likely to be the cabinets, especially if you have them custom-made. But if you’re willing to work with stock dimensions, Ikea’s modular, easy-to-hang cabinets will save you 50 percent or more–much more–off custom cabinets. Added bonus: Ikea’s cabinets come in a variety of styles, colors and finishes, and you can put them up yourself, which can save you cabinets-full of money. They have hidden hinges that move smoothly, and they feel surprisingly solid. The cost depends on what you want, and the quality isn’t on a par with custom cabinetry. But with one of Ikea’s Akurum base cabinets for a cooktop coming in between $100 and $200, the prices are unbeatable. Ikea, 700 Ikea Court, West Sacramento; (916) 371-4532; ikea.com
* Cheap Tip–Custom granite countertops can bust a hole in your kitchen-remodeling budget. Opt instead for prefabbed counters from Medimer Marble & Granite. The 25 1/4- by-96-inch-long granite counters come in 13 colors, with side and back splash, and a bull-nose edge. Prices range from $100 to $400 per ready-to-use counter. 3979 N. Freeway Blvd., Sac-ramento; (916) 387-1000; medimermarble.com
* Cheap Tip–Fleet Feet Sports, the sports footwear and apparel retailer, offers a frequent-flyer program: For every $250 you spend at one store, you get a $25 store voucher. four area locations; fleetfeetsports.com
Health club membership–There are a bazillion gyms, but the best deal in town has to be at 24 Hour Fitness, with 13 gyms in the Sacramento region. They’re not the best gyms, but they’re also not the worst, and you just can’t beat the price: A year’s membership can cost as little as $100. It depends on what kind of deal you strike and what promotion they’re offering, but if you come up with the first three years’ dues at a higher rate (say, $24 a month), in the fourth year your rate drops to $99 a year. It’s a commitment, but that’s
exercise, right? And 24 Hour offers a perk few other gyms can: You can use your membership at most of the chain’s locations around the country, finishing off a day hike in, say, the Marin Headlands with a hot tub and a shower before heading off to dinner in San Francisco. 24 Hour Fitness, 13 area locations; 24hourfitness.com
Women’s shoes–One of the best-kept shopping secrets around is the Nordstrom children’s shoe department, which carries some of the same styles found in the adult shoe department at a fraction of the price. For instance, a pair of Juicy Couture ballerina flats is $225 for women, but $99.95 for girls. Ugg suede boots are $134 for women, $89.95 for girls. You also can find cute kids’-only styles that work for women, too, like Kenneth Cole’s kicky polka-dot wedge sandals, just $38.95. One caveat: You’ll have to have dainty pinkies to shop here; most styles are available only up to women’s size 6 or 8. Nordstrom, two area locations; nordstrom.com
Diamond jewelry–You can find some great deals at the Zales Outlet in Folsom, where solitaires are 20 percent off, and wedding bands and other rings can be reduced as much as 40 percent. And at the back of the store, there’s a case with some lovely rings and earrings that are marked down 60 percent. One flower diamond-cluster ring, with a total of two carats of diamonds, originally $4,720, recently was priced at $1,699. Zales Outlet, Folsom Premium Outlets, 13000 Folsom Blvd., Suite 605, Folsom; (916) 351-1918
Men’s and women’s shoes–Nordstrom Rack is the place to score deals on designer shoes for both women and men. You’ll find bargains like a Michael Kors patent-leather wedge, discounted from $100 to $36.90, or Anne Klein casual heels cut from $79.90 to $36.90. Men get good deals, too: Ecco sneakers, originally $110, were recently priced at $49.90, and a pair of Nike Airs was reduced from $119 to $49. Nordstrom Rack, two area locations; nordstrom.com
Kids’ clothes–For deep discounts, try the clearance racks at the OshKosh B’Gosh outlet at the Folsom Premium Outlets, where a 30 percent discount is taken off already-marked-down items. A pair of pink floral shorts for girls, originally $28, were marked down to $5.99, then got an additional 30 percent off, making them roughly $4–a fraction of the original price. And blue jeans, originally $38, then $9.99, were $6.66 on the clearance racks. OshKosh B’Gosh, Folsom Premium Outlets, 13000 Folsom Blvd., Suite 1530, Folsom; (916) 985-4406
* Cheap Tip–The OshKosh B’Gosh outlet takes an additional 15 percent off if you’re buying for twins, triplets or other multiples.
Women’s designer denim–If you have a problem forking over two benjamins for a pair of jeans, hit the twice-yearly sale at Serendipity Boutique in East Sacramento. Every January and July, the store slashes prices 40 percent on selected women’s designer jeans. During the recent sale, Citizens of Humanity jeans, regularly $189, went for $113, while Red Engine jeans were $92, down from $154. The store also cuts prices on designer fashions; you could have picked up a $537 Trina Turk boucle coat for $270. Serendipity Boutique, 5362 H St., Sacramento; (916) 454-2900; serendipityboutique.com
Women’s everyday jeans–Anybody can look good in a pair of $200 jeans. The trick is to find jeans that flatter your figure without costing an arm and a leg. The Gap’s best-selling Long & Lean jeans do the trick–and at just $49.50 to $59.50 a pair. Made with a hint of Spandex for a slimming look, they’re so good that even Oprah, who could afford 100 pairs of the priciest jeans, swears by ’em. Gap, five area locations; gap.com
CDs–If you’re looking for something besides the new best-selling CD, R5 Records in the old Tower building at 16th and Broadway has some great deals. Prices can dip below $10 a disc. A recent example: Joni Mitchell’s Shine at $12.99. R5 Records, 2500 16th St., Sacramento; (916) 441-2500; r5records.com
* Cheap Tip–The savviest spot to buy fresh flowers is at one of the area’s farmers markets, where you can pick up a bouquet of locally grown blossoms for just $3 to $5. For a list of farmers markets in the region, go to californiagrown.com.
Men’s clothing–At the Kenneth Cole Outlet at the Folsom Premium Outlets, you can find great deals on Cole’s cautiously fashionable dress shirts and slacks, coats and even some shoes, most at 30 percent off the original price. Recent deals included soft cashmere V-neck sweaters, marked down from $79 to $39.97, and zippered black leather ankle boots at $79.96, down from $175. For more savings, sign up for a birthday discount of 20 percent. Kenneth Cole Outlet, Folsom Premium Outlets, 13000 Folsom Blvd., Suite 1550, Folsom; (916) 351-1520
Cosmetics and hair products–At Ulta Beauty stores, you really get bang for your buck. If you buy one item, you often get another one free. Recent examples included hair care products by Sebastian and Redken, all Revlon lipsticks and Almay’s hypoallergenic makeup. Ulta’s 20-percent-off coupons appear almost monthly in the Sunday newspaper, and with a frequent-shopper card you can accumulate points that can be turned into free products or discounted services at the in-store beauty salon. Ulta also is a good source for gift packages all year long. A recent example: LookFusion Essentials kit of four products for lips and lashes–a $125 retail value for $86. Ulta Beauty, six area locations; ulta.com
Men’s business attire–Off 5th, the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet at Folsom Premium Outlets, has some great deals on men’s Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein suits, as well as a wide selection of Saks’ own line of ties, marked down from $85 to $39.99. Check out the Joseph Abboud linen shirts, reduced to $58.90 from $148. And the best recent deal: a camel-hair sport coat, originally $350, marked down to $99.98. Off 5th, Folsom Premium Outlets, 13000 Folsom Blvd., Suite 1100, Folsom; (916) 985-7114
Furniture–For great home furnishings at excellent prices, try Encore! A Builders Clearing House, a clearance center for model-home furnishings in Rancho Cordova. These are new and only slightly used furnishings that Encore’s owner, Kira Moore, has bought from model homes and resells at wholesale or below. It’s at least 50 percent off retail, Moore says. And for art and accessories, it’s more like 70 percent off. Furniture names include Universal, Broyhill, Lane and Lexington, although you’ll also find knockoffs and imports. Encore! A Builders Clearing House, 11092 Coloma Road, Rancho Cordova; (916) 638-1410; 4modelhomefurnishings.com
* Cheap Tip–Pottery World Clearance Center in Sacramento carries discontinued, dinged, demo and overstock items from its Rocklin store. Fountains, pottery, patio furniture and interior furnishings are up to 60 percent off. 5800 Auburn Blvd., Sacramento;
(916) 334-1680; pwdecor.com
Women’s clothing–If you hate to pay retail (and who doesn’t?), shop Macy’s end-of-season sales. To make room for the new season’s fashions, the department store marks down unsold merchandise first 25 percent, then 50 percent and finally a whopping 75 percent. Recent bargains included a pair of Calvin Klein black satin trousers, reduced from $128 to $32, a $218 Tahari blazer, marked down to $54.50, and a New West belted denim jacket, originally $99, priced at $24.75. At those prices, they’re practically paying you to take the stuff off their hands. Macy’s, five area locations; macys.com
Skis and snowboards–This is the time of year to get great deals on ski gear. Sierra Snowboard & Ski comes up the winner in our unofficial poll of area snow bunnies. Because it buys in quantity–this place is Costco-huge–it gets deals that it passes on to customers. Recent examples: a Burton bonded fleece hoodie with built-in headphones, knocked down from $110 to $87, and Anon Majestic goggles with leather-wrapped frames, regularly priced at $150, on sale for $75. During the recent ski season, Sierra offered a selection of Burton’s 2008 factory-seconds snowboards, with slight blemishes in the graphics only, for 30 percent off. For example, Burton’s popular Vapor, which retails for $999, was $699. The only problem is, you get a deal now but have to wait until next winter to enjoy it. Sierra Snowboard & Ski, 5400 Date Ave., Sacramento; (916) 344-1800; sierrasnowboard.com
Bridal gowns–With its splashy midtown showroom, House of Fashion is a Sacramento bridal landmark. But less than two miles away, in East Sacramento, House of Fashion II, the store’s outlet, sells samples–dresses that are tried on before an order is made–for about 50 percent off. House of Fashion II carries major designers from Mori Lee and Jim Hjelm to Paloma Blanca and Lazaro. Recent buys included a Scassi gown, originally $2,710, marked down to $1,500, and a $2,900 Lazaro dress with minor, easily fixable damage reduced to $900. You can find wedding gowns here for as little as $50, as well as sample bridesmaid dresses for a jaw-dropping $5. (Sure, they’re stamped with the word sample, but a seamstress can easily fix that.) House of Fashion II has about 2,000 dresses in stock at any time, and inventory is refreshed every two months. House of Fashion II, 3801 J St., Sacramento; (916) 457-7618; hof-sac.com
House paint–You won’t have the infinite variety of choices you’d have if you picked and blended your own color, but if you’re looking to paint something small on the cheap, you can’t do better than The Home Depot’s oops rack at the store’s paint counter. There, rejected gallons and quarts of paint, deemed too hot pink or too military green by others, are marked way down. Gallons, normally $25 or more, are $5. Quarts are only a buck. But get there in the morning, say sales staffers, while there are still rejects to choose from. The Home Depot, 10 area locations; homedepot.com
Bikes and bike gear–If you’re looking for a bargain, check out Performance Bicycle. Recently, a $94.99 three-bike hitch rack by Thruway was marked down to $69.97, while a Hind Women’s Hydrator jersey, originally $49.99, was marked down by half, to $24.97. Don’t forget that bikes are considered a seasonal purchase, so fall is the best time to find a great deal. Performance Bicycle, two area locations; performancebike.com
Wine–Your best bet for a wine bargain is Total Wine & More, which opened in January in Roseville. The store offers great values on a huge inventory of wines–10,000 of them. Recent deals included Toasted Head Chardonnay for $7.77 and Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet for $6.97. Both usually run around $12. Total Wine & More, 5791 Five Star Drive, Roseville; (916) 791-2488; totalwine.com
* Cheap Tip–At restaurant.com, buy discounted gift certificates to about 50 local restaurants, from Original Pete’s Pizza to Chanterelle. Savings are substantial: a $25 certificate costs just $10.