*Sorry for the wall of text*
After a long hiatus, I am back today with another edition of Brandy's Bargain Bonanza. It's been, let's see, around 7 months (yikes!) since I did my last edition (a couple of days after Black Friday in Nov. 07), but I guess this is just one of those times to say better late than never and move on.
While I've found many bargains in those seven months, I usually found them using tips I had already shared with you, and therefore didn't really see the point of making a Bonanza after them. However, yesterday, I found a copy of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team for the GBA for $7.48 after implementing a technique I've used from the very beginning, that being "showing extreme patience."
This tip comes with multiple parts, and will get pretty complicated from here on in (one of the other reasons I've never discussed it before). I'll try my best to explain things in as great of detail as possible, but before we get into it, we need to discuss a couple of reasons why games (or other items) go on clearance in the first place. That is, when items go on clearance at most retail outlets, it's usually because they either A) are outdated and are going to be replaced with other merchandise or B) didn't sell well, and the stores want to make whatever profit they can from them.
When it comes to Target, my most frequent stop, case A is normally the reason. And being that I am a Pokémon fan from way back, it should be easy to understand my excitement when, after heading to the back corner of the store a few weeks ago, I saw Red Rescue Team boxes lined up by the dozens… literally. This in itself brings me to the first part of my tip. I should say now, however, that these next few paragraphs are pretty specific to the Target franchise itself, since my experience with other stores' "behind the scenes" practices isn't as high.
Your initial reaction to a clearance sale should be to count how many of the item is on clearance, and to try to determine how long the item has been on the shelves at its regular price. For video games and movies this is pretty simple, as you can either look on the back of the box for a copyright date, or use your memories from years past as a reference. If the game is newer (say, released in 2007), obviously demand will be higher (in most cases) than if the game was released in say 2003. It's all about supply and demand here.
After determining these two factors, you then look more carefully at the price. Normally, the initial clearance prices on games are 30% off. Then, it jumps to 50%, then 75%, and finally 90%, if any copies remain. By determining what percentage level you are currently looking at, you can make a rough estimate as to how long the game has been on clearance already, which can help greatly in your decision making process.
For Target, there is normally a stock worker who comes in one or two nights a week specifically to mark down clearance throughout the store. This means that at any given time, if I am looking at a game that is on clearance for 50% off, then that means that it's most likely in its second week on the clearance rack, since stock remained after a week at 30% off. Likewise, if a game is 75% off, it's most likely in its third week on the shelf, since it would have passed through a week at 30%, and a week at 50%. I hope you all are still with me here, because I'm about to combine everything into one.
After counting the number of copies on the shelf, and making a guesstimate as to the current demand for the product, and after deciding how long the game has been on clearance to begin with, you can add all of these steps together to determine if you should buy the item or not. Of course personal desire will play a role in this, but I'll go on from here as if you have a "general" desire for the game. That is, it's probably on your wishlist, but somewhere near the bottom.
Obviously, the more copies available at any one price point, the less likely I would be to suggest that you buy the game. That is, if the object is only 30% off, and there are over 24 on the shelf (as there were in my case about Red Rescue Team), you should probably wait to make a purchase. However, if there are only one or two copies of the game, even at 30%, you probably shouldn't wait. It all comes down to you asking yourself one simple question – "Are there enough copies on the shelf that I believe there will be at least one left next week when it flips to 50%?" In my case with Red Rescue Team, the answer was yes.
Move a week forward and we get to 50% off. With an original price of $29.99, Red Rescue Team is now $14.98, and there are still at least 20 copies on the shelf. Looks like my guesstimate about demand was pretty good. By waiting a week, I've already saved myself $6, since the game is now $6 cheaper at 50% off (still with me?). However, the game is still in large supply on the shelf, so we go back to my question. Do I think that at least one copy will remain a week from now? My answer was still yes.
Jump to yesterday, three full days after the game had moved to 75% (I had forgotten about the game until then – yikes). Four copies still sitting on the shelf, this time at $7.48. By waiting this long, I saved myself over $22, with this savings requiring nothing more than a little patience.
Of course, waiting the third week, or even the second week, in a clearance sale is going to be a bit of a gamble, with the risk being larger in some cases (depending on demand), but as I said before, it all comes back to your own individual desire for a game. If someone was desperate for that same title, I would never tell them not to buy the game at $21 (30% off) if they felt there was a chance the game would sell out by the second week.
While all of this may seem really complicated at first, let me reassure you. The good thing about this tip is the fact that you are only going to get better at it in time. After looking at your local clearance racks more closely, obvious trends will undoubtedly develop in terms of when items change in price, allowing you to better develop your purchase strategy. Heck, you could even look at random items in other departments and play a mental guessing game to hone your skills. This way, you're not actually losing out on an item that you wanted, if you happen to be wrong (which I have been in a few situations, but just a few ;)).
So, there you have it. With a little patience and some detailed observation, you can learn to save yourself a lot of money simply by waiting to pull out the cash. In the end, you're still most likely going to end up with the item you desire, but will have spent less cash to do so, and who can argue with that?
In closing, I'll add that yesterday I also picked up the first season of CSI for $17.99 on a temporary price cut. Another bit of patience stopped me from buying the game at $25 when it was on sale a couple of months ago, and I saved $7 in doing so. Yay!
Thanks to all those who actually take the time to read this, and if you need me to clarify anything, I'll be more than happen to do so!
Until next time all!