The 8 Best Places to Find Deals at the Mall
Shopping malls. Some are shrines to over-indulgence. Some will have you emptying your bank account faster than you can say "charge." And others, well, don't even go within 100 feet of them if you're planning to save money. In my hometown of Denver, that would be Cherry Creek mall. Very beautiful, very extravagant, and not one bargain anywhere within its luxurious walls. (See also: 17 Places to Get Discount Designer Clothing)
But other malls, especially outlet malls, can be goldmines of savings. And if you know where (and when) to shop within the mall, you can stretch your dollars considerably further. Here are the eight best places to find deals at your local mall.
1. Jewelry: Claire's and Icing
If you have girls, especially between the ages of 7 and 14, then Claire's and Icing can save you a ton of money on jewelry. True, it's not exactly the best quality, but the tastes of teenage girls change with the wind anyway. These stores constantly have deals running, including BOGO and Buy 2, Get 1 Free. And they don't just do deals on jewelry. You'll find bargains on purses, makeup, key rings, chap sticks, and more. It's paradise for young girls, and a money saver for adults. (See also: Where to Find Inexpensive Accessories)
2. Clothing: H&M
Hopefully your mall contains an H&M. Some don't, and that's a real shame. H&M prices run from fair to "that's incredible, how do they even stay in business?!" The thing about H&M is that it's both fashionable and affordable — two words that very rarely go together. They have major celebrities wearing and advertising their clothes, and if you hit the sales, you'll find these items for silly money. Jeans for less than $10, T-shirts for $5. You really can't go wrong.
3. Shoes: Payless Shoesource
I preface this with a note on quality. Many people will tell you that the shoes at Payless are crap. Sorry to be blunt, but that's what it basically boils down to. But to be honest, I've had hiking boots from Payless that I bought at the same time as a much more expensive pair from REI, and both have lasted well. I think the higher-priced boots are more comfortable, but many of the shoes sold in Payless are made in the same factories that churn out the expensive brands. You can also buy Airwalk shoes in Payless. Yes, if you want the latest and greatest fashions, and high-end brand names, this is not the store for you. But if you need shoes for the kiddos who are growing like weeds, and will be in another size in six months, there are plenty of choices here. (See also: Try Frye for Stylish Shoes That Last)
4. A Bit of Everything: Ross, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls
When you want some cheap clothes, bargain watches, cookware, bedding, shoes, suitcases, electronics, and kitchen gadgets all under one roof, these stores are great. The stock is name brand, but is often what the industry calls "factory seconds." They are flawed in some way, but these ways are usually unnoticeable to anyone but a trained eye. That means a slightly incorrect logo placement, stitching irregularities, or even the tiniest of blemishes. For this, you'll pay as much as 90% less than retail. You may also get last year's fashions or discontinued stock. But if you don't care (and how many of us do?) this is a great place to shop and save.
5. Video Games: Game Stop and Game Zone
When you head to these stores, don't go for the brand new games. They cannot offer them at good prices, and they will most likely be cheaper online. Instead, look through the used games, and better still, the bargain buckets. Here, you'll find games that have been hugely discounted. It's not uncommon to pick up games for the Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3 for less than $5. Sadly, these stores have not carried the original Xbox games for quite some time, but you can still find them at independent retailers for as little as $2. They also take trades, so you can walk out with games without spending any money. (See also: Cheap Ways to Play Video Games)
6. Sunglasses: Kiosks
Every mall you go to will usually have small kiosks set up in the aisles. They will be selling everything from skin care products to cuddly toys and wallets. One thing to look out for is the sunglasses kiosk. This will have copies of popular styles at a fraction of the price. They are not counterfeit; they are simply mimicking expensive brands but without the high price tag. What you should know is this: over 80% of sunglasses in the world are made by one company — Luxottica. And almost every pair of sunglasses comes with UV protection. So while you may feel better spending $250 on a pair of designer sunglasses, remember that for ten times less you can get two good-looking pairs that will shield your eyes from the sun just as well.
7. Fragrances: Perfumania and Other Fragrance Outlets
When you want to stock up on fragrances for friends, family, or yourself, don't forget to look in stores like Perfumania. They almost always have good deals running, like BOGO, or BOGO 50%. They will also bundle deals, giving you fragrance sets that include shower gels, lotions, and even nightgowns; and they have a decent clearance section, where last year's hot fragrances are this year's hot bargains. Just be warned — the scent can be a little overpowering.
8. Kitchen Items: Kitchen Collection
If you have specific kitchen items you need, pop into a store like Kitchen Collection. It's considered an outlet store, but the goods offered within are great quality at excellent prices. Brands on offer include Cuisinart, Farberware, Black & Decker, Keurig, KitchenAid, Ninja, Paula Deen, Waring Pro, and Sunbeam. There are gadgets and gizmos covering the walls and the aisles, and the clearance sections can be eye-opening. Expect to pay 50% less for your top-end items than you would in the department stores across the way.
Do you have a secret mall shopping tip that always brings you the best deals? Let us know all about it.