Going Out of Business Sale? Think Twice

This weekend, I had the privilege of visiting yet another national store chain going out of business, and have decided with certainty that it would have been more pleasant to stay home and nap. As with many who have fallen into the same trap, I just couldn’t help but be dazzled by the strange-looking man with a bright, red sign that promised fantastic deals and amazing markdowns.

After wading through congested traffic and finding the only seemingly available parking spot, I began what felt like a 1/2 mile journey to the front entrance. The pleasantries did not end there. The store was completely filled with shoppers eager to snap up the last remaining inventory. Rows of shelves sat empty as portions of the store began to be closed off and merchandise consolidated. With all this buzz about, I expected the experience to be a thrill. On the contrary, after five minutes in the store, I felt like the energy of my entire morning had been sucked out and discarded.

The punchline of the story is that, even for a small deal on something I genuinely needed, I would not have complained about the crowds, the hassle, or even the incredible somber atmosphere. But as I walked around the entire store, the only thought in my mind was: “I could get this stuff cheaper somewhere else.” And with that, I grabbed my wife (who I knew to find in the discount movie section), and promptly left the store.

I would have thought to myself that everyone else had the same common sense and willpower about them to realize that at what was a pretty early stage of the “liquidation” game, there wasn’t a deal in the store to be had. But on the way out the door, I had to push through not one, but two lines of at least ten people waiting to hand over their hard-earned money to the cashier. Something was very wrong with this picture.

I think that by now, my wife is probably tired of my basic “sale” mantra, but I repeat it anyway every time she gets an urge: “Even if it’s on sale, you’re still spending money.” Just imagine yourself walking into whatever store you’re most likely to spend money (for me, that’s probably Costco, but Best Buy ranks a close second). You see something you really like for $42.99, but today, it’s 30% off! What a deal, you can get the item for just over $30! But:

  1. Can you get the item for less somewhere else? (My experience with our liquidation friends this weekend) If so, there is no purpose in buying it here.
  2. If the item was priced at $30 regularly, would you still buy it? This is a test of self-awareness and willpower, but at least do yourself a favor and be really honest with yourself. Retailers know us and our psychology all too well.
  3. Is this something you really need at all? Will this item enhance your life in some critical way, or are you just on an incredible high from the seemingly fantastic deal you just found? It helps to walk away for a few minutes so your sale-rush wears off.

When companies go out of business, I’ve gotten some fantastic deals on things I truly needed. But the occurance is rare, and I’ve always done so with careful consideration and an aggressive comparison shopping mindset. If you want to keep more of your money in your wallet, I suggest a long and careful look next time you head out for a search of the “perfect” deal.

Photo by F33