Online steals and deals are as close as your mouse
By Betty L. Johnson
You remember it-that special rack or bin in the back of your favorite store where yesterday's hottest looks were today's bargains. Sure, you had to work for those deals - watching the ads, sifting through the duds or waiting in line for the store to open - but it felt great to own that textured sweater or side-slit dress that was previously beyond your means. While the quest for a great deal will never go out of style, the rules of the hunt have changed. Today's savvy shopper can sniff out bargains with a click of her mouse.
When online shopping was in its infancy, customers often paid premium prices for their purchases, and bemoaned that brick and mortar staple - the bargain bin. At the time, the new online storefronts generally didn't have excess merchandise that needed discounting. But, as the Web has matured, so have inventories.
Today, most online sites are looking to clear end-of-season inventories, much like your neighborhood boutique. They also offer a wide selection of overstocks and, in some cases, an occasional "seconds" bin full of not-quite-perfect merchandise.
Online sales take many forms, from percentage discounts to auctions where you bid against other customers for a blouse or pair of leather jeans. A few sites discount items more and more each day, but you have risk that the item you want may sell out before it hits your target price. This practice is designed, of course, to ensure your daily visit to the site, in the hope you'll find other merchandise you just can't live without.
Whatever the format of the online discount, you may fear that, when it arrives at your door, the product won't be what you expected. Not to worry - most sites cover discounted merchandise with the same guarantees and return policies that apply to their regular merchandise. Be a savvy shopper, though, and check with each site for their specific return policy.
Also keep in mind that you'll enjoy an extra discount at those sites that price shipping by sales price! If your jacket is 50% off, your shipping will be, too!
Click-click cha-ching! You can save a bundle when you know where to look on all your favorite looks from top designers. It's time to stock up-without getting an elbow in the side in the process!
Alight.com (www.alight.com) You can't miss the bargains galore at Alight - they are plastered right to the front page of the site. Start with the "Cheap Chic" section and make your way to "Steals and Deals." You won't believe the brand name merchandise you can grab up at discount store prices. If you want to dress to impress, you can't go wrong with Alight, where you can browse items by individual designer.
August Max Woman (www.augustmaxwoman.com) If an additional 30% off already reduced merchandise sounds enticing, you need to click on over to August Max Woman. You'll find great career and casual clothing in their sale section, as well as accessories such as purses, scarves, and sunglasses.
The Avenue (www.avenue.com) In the past, The Avenue has used a "sale bin" for its discounted merchandise, but fashions are now sporting electronic "sale tags" within their category. Now you can find discounts on merchandise you were looking for anyway! Pick up a few end-of-season bargains that will take you to the backyard barbecue, the office or the cruise, and pocket the change! Designer
Shoes (www.designershoes.com) After you buy your new bargain outfit, you may want to use your savings to step into matching new shoes. So why not check out the sale section at Designer Shoes for lowdown prices on designer brand feet keepers?
Dress Barn (www.dressbarn.com) The greatest thing about Dress Barn's season clearance is its timing. In June, it was filled with sweaters, ready to be pre-purchased in time for this fall! Lined suitings and adorable purses rounded out the offerings under the clearance button. When the current season gets stale, watch the site for great spring and summer selections.
Elisabeth (www.elisabeth.com) Go right to the source for Liz Claiborne's latest plus designs and save while you're there by clicking on the season sale button. It's like visiting a Liz Claiborne Outlet store without the drive. Classic designs never go out of style, so you can buy them on sale with confidence. (Can anyone really have too many Elisabeth jackets?)
JCPenney (www.jcpenney.com) Our friends at JCPenney know you love to save, save, save, so they offer three ways to dig for deals. The clearance section contains normal markdowns, but, if you're game, enter the auction area and compete against other shoppers for merchandise. If you can stand to wait, try the "Falling Prices" section, where prices are discounted further and further until the item is sold out. Those of us who worry about missing out can sign up for falling price notification and an email will alert us that it is time to buy!
Junonia (www.junonia.com) Since it's inception, Junonia has served the casual clothing needs of plus-size women size 14 and up. Named for the Goddess Juno, a plus beauty, the business has grown from catalog to website. The only way to beat their prices and selection is to pop into "Juno's Closet" and pick up on the latest discounts on the site.
Just My Size (www.justmysize.com) You know them for comfortable casual, and now you can tuck some extra Benjamins inside your drawstring pants, thanks to the site's closeout button. The merchandise in this section is being discontinued, but they're the same shirts, jogging pants and private ditties that you know and love.
Lands End (www.landsend.com) You know Lands' End means quality, but now you can buy in quantity, thanks to "overstocks" that are up to 80% off the original price. Lands' End also offers deep discounts through their "On The Counter" section, where remaining merchandise is listed at retail on Saturday, with further discounts taken during the week. Remember, though, that you play the odds that your selections won't be sold out until the price drops to your selected price point.
Love Your Peaches (www.loveyourpeaches.com) Finally, a site that begins (not ends) with 1X, and that has a great sales rack. You'll find great bargains on those few remaining garments in each style at the end of each season.
Making It Big (www.makingitbig.com) Known for its wonderful natural fiber apparel that can go to the beach or to the office, Making it Big is comfortable on the pocketbook, thanks to the site's clearance section. Both plus and supersize women will enjoy the end-of-season bargains that are up to 50% off regular prices. If you've been waiting to splurge on some great designs you can truly live in, you should be Making It (your savings) Big. If you're looking for even bigger savings, visit the eBay store of CurvzAhead (www.stores.ebay.com/curvzahead). They have hundreds of Making it Big items - both first quality and seconds - at unbeatable, "Buy it Now" prices.
Newport News (www.newportnews.com) Season-based sales on casual wear are the trend here, but you'll also find a fantastic "Steals and Deals" section that has today's looks at yesterday's prices. You select the size range, and the styles available for your choice will appear.
Nordstrom (www.nordstrom.com) Nordstrom gives you a reason to celebrate during the week, by adding new offerings to the sale area every Tuesday. You can count on Nordstrom for name brands, great quality and stylish looks in every type of apparel, from T-shirts to slinky eveningwear.
Talbots Woman (www.talbots.com) Up to size 24 with sophisticated flair, Talbots offers seasonal sales on merchandise that can often go from one season to the next. Click on their sales section within the Talbots Woman area of the site for bargains meant for you.
Ulla Popken (www.ullapopken.com) If it's Ulla, it's classy and comfortable. You'll get a comfy ten- percent off your first purchase just for signing up with the site, and don't forget to drop into the Clearance Department for drastic price cuts on your Ulla favorites.
If this isn't enough to nudge you into the shopping mode, keep in mind that you don't even need to carry home the packages--they'll be delivered right to your door. So flick that mouse-tail and watch for those red tags. Oh, look! M. Kalan at 40% off! I think I'll buy...two!