Factory stores, clearance centers, and surplus outlets away from the malls.

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  • Featured ImageThe 2016 Holiday Gift Card Deals Roundup

    gift cardsGift cards and gift card deals are popular holiday presents. They are good for retailers, too: if customers use them, they generate traffic to the store and some additional sales. If customers don’t use them, then the retailer gets free money.

    Not bad, huh?

    There’s a secret. In a world of pathetically low interest rates, gift cards can be a great way to generate a return on investment. Not by doing anything shady, either. All you have to do is watch for special gift card promotions. Here are a few to check out (and let us know in the comments if you know of others).

      • Grocery and drugstore promotions: many weeks, Jewel-Osco stores offer special deals on gift cards. For example, a recent offer allowed you to purchase a $50 gift card to Michael’s Stores and then get $10 off your grocery bill. If you use the card at some point in the next year, that’s a 20% return on investment. Pay attention for similar promotions at places near you that have gift card racks. If you buy cards for places where you already shop, you can save a bundle.
      • Lettuce Entertain You: If there’s a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant near where you live, you can receive a $25 bonus coupon for every $100 in gift cards that you buy. The bonus is in the form of a coupon with an expiration date, but it’s a great deal if you use it. If you’re a member of the Lettuce Eats frequent diner club, you will receive points for the gift card purchase, too.
      • Vapiano Italian restaurants offer a 20% bonus on gift card purchases, a great deal if you are near one. Many other restaurants have similar promotions during the December holiday season.
      • Amazon.com often has special gift card promotions, ranging from Holiday Teddy Bear with a $150 gift card purchase offer to the occasional bonus. If you regularly shop Amazon, why not get a $100 gift card for your own account if it comes with a $5 bonus? When banks barely offer 1%, that’s a great return.
      • Neighborhood promotions: Where I live, the neighborhood chamber of commerce offers a $20 bonus for every $100 gift card, good at lots of businesses that I got to all the time.

    The only catch is that the bonuses are sometimes in the form of coupons, which have expiration dates, instead of gift cards, which may or may not expire (depending on the state). Be sure you’ll use the bonus in time to make it worth your while.

    Now, there’s no law that says you have to give a gift card to someone else. If a business that you already frequent offers a gift card promotion, consider it a gift to yourself.

  • Visiting Barcelona? Like bargain shopping? Go to Caller Girona

    Barcelona outlet storesBarcelona’s Caller de  Girona is the Land of Bargains. If you’re visiting the city, put your valuable dollars to work! There are come great Barcelona outlet stores, like:

    31 Girona: La Sabateria shoes. €18 sneakers

    33 Girona: Montse Interiors. When we visited, a FC Barcelona bathrobe was €11.95

    35 Girona: DKT Dekasta, Vero Moda, Blend, DKT

    37 Girona: Mango. Regular and clearance items from this favorite fast-fashion brand.P1000919

    41 Girona: Outlet. With samples and closeout buys including Superdry, Diesel, and other high-end casual brands.

    38 Girona: Intermalla – tiny juniors clothes

    40 Girona: E&P Store Factory – Etxart & Panno high-end ladies dresses

    40 Girona: Javier Simmorra – great women’s work clothes and dresses

    And, if you’re near the Sagrada Familia (and you should go to the Sagrada Familia: Zabriskie Studio Outlet at 370 Caller de Lepant at Avenida Gaudi.P1000912

    Another great resource for the Barcelona traveler is Bargain Hunter BCN. And, most of these stores can handle VAT refunds, for tax-free tourist shopping.

    Have fun!

  • Roots Outlet Store

    Roots exteriorRoots is the Canadian casual-wear store, an indigenous GAP, so to speak. If you are visiting Vancouver and have a car, the outlet store is worth the trip. The outlet store is right on the border between Vancouver and the suburb of Burnaby. This is total Vancouver style.

    New stock is carried in the front of the store. The fun is in the back, at the clearance section, where last season’s merchandise is 50% off retail. When I visited, there was a storewide buy one item, get the second at 50% off, which saved even more money.

    The select

    2016-03-28 13.36.33

    ion was huge: sweaters, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, gloves – all sorts of fun stuff. If you are visiting Canada and need souvenirs for people back home, this is a great stop. You can get a lot of high-quality, Canada-specific gear for rela

    2016-03-28 13.39.37

    tively little money. Although the styles skew toward things of interest to the young, there was a wide range of sizes.

    The store is not all that attractive from the street. The entrance is in the back. Also, the parking lot is a popular shortcut, so be on the lookout for cars speeding through.

    All in all, this worth a visit if you are in Vancouver and are looking for fun casual clothes – with a Canadian flair – at a bargain.

  • Mango Outlet Store

    P1000919The Mango Outlet Store is the big name on Barcelona’s Carrer Girona. This fast-fashion chain has a sizable sale store among the many outlets on the block.

    Prices on in-season items were slightly better than prices in regular stores – not much better, but enough. Some summer dresses were as little as €10, not bad for some fun fast fashion.  

    The real value is on older stock. We noticed prices of  €7.99 for men’s shirts on their third markdown. Older accessories were super cheap.

    The Mango Outlet also had a great selection of children’s clothes, making this a nice stop if you have little ones back home.

    Given that Mango’s prices are already low, this may not be worth the trip. However, the store’s  neighbors include some amazing outlets, so stop by when you’re in the neighborhood.

  • Featured ImageCash back from online shopping, outlet store or not

    pink abe, cash back from online shoppingA lot of bargain shoppers like to look online, and a lot of retailers put their overstock on the Web rather than opening a store. Online shopping lets you find almost anything you want, from almost anywhere in the world, in a matter of minutes. Not only does online shopping save you hours of time and shot-glasses of stress, but it can even pay you back. Yes, you can get cash back from online shopping.

    There are two companies that offer money back from online shopping. Both are similar: go to the site, log in, search for the retailer or product in question, and then click the link to start your purchases. When the order ships and the payment clears, you’ll get a rebate into your account. Ebates is designed to pay you back and often runs a lot of special promotions available only through its site. It’s a general rebate program, with an emphasis on high-end shopping. Upromise is set up as a college savings plan; rebates can accumulate in a savings account, be directed to a 529 college savings plan, or be used to pay down certain types of student loans. You can also earn money for your account at different restaurants when you register your credit card as well as through your grocery store loyalty card.

    The money adds up. I started a Upromise account shortly after the firm was founded in 2000, and now have total savings of $659.61. It won’t pay for much of college, but it’s better than nothing, right? It’s a few textbooks, and what college student wouldn’t want a few free textbooks?

    By the way, I have an affiliate relationship with Upromise and Ebates, but I’d recommend them even if I did not. The deals are that good.