Get insider info, get the best bargains!
- WHO sells the type of thing you're looking for,
- WHAT they most want or need to sell,
- WHEN their sales are slowest,
- WHY they discount and
- HOW they sell their clearance stock
Here's how to get that information:
- Get into the industry. The best source of insider info is to actually be on the inside. This doesn't mean you have to give up your day job though - there are other ways in.
The Bargain Queen's first tip is that if you like op (thrift) shopping, you should volunteer in one of your favourite shops occasionally. Even if you can only spare a few hours each month, many stores will be thrilled to have the help, and you'll learn a lot about how op shops work and how to find the best deals. Plus, when you're re-arranging shelves or sorting out tangled racks of clothes, you're likely to find some great bargains to buy.
The second tip, is that your existing skills might allow you to provide services to the industry you're interested in. For example, if you design software like The Bargain Queen does, look for projects / jobs where you design software for retailers, manufacturers or service providers whose products you're interested in.
- Talk to insiders. It's really easy to talk to insiders, even if you don't know any personally. Every sales assistant you speak to has insider info, which they're usually happy to share IF you approach them the right way. Be friendly, be charming and remember your manners - don't be too blatant about trying to get things more cheaply. In Australia, the general rule is that it's fine to ask for information ("I love these shoes but they're just too expensive. Do you know if they'll be marked down in the next sale? When is that?"); it's usually not appropriate to ask outright for a discount unless an item's faulty. The exceptions are garage (yard) sales and some markets.
These rules apply doubly if the insider is a friend or family member, because if they can give you a discount, they'll usually offer.
- Read up. Industry insiders write and/or are interviewed for books, magazines and newspapers all the time. Most major newspapers (and some magazines) post recent stories online for free, so this can be a great start. A trip to your local library can help you find books and magazines to read too. The stories to look for are about the overall state of a particular industry; trends within that industry; the health of particular companies; and articles about previous years' sales (they're usually repeated each year).
- Get online. Apart from newspapers' web sites, the two best sources of insider info online are blogs and discussion forums. Google's your best resource for finding these sites, but to get you started, here's two of The Bargain Queen's favourites:
- Kathleen Fasanella's blog Fashion-Incubator is a great place to learn about the inner workings of the fashion business
- The Vogue Australia Forums are a popular online hangout for Australian shop assistants and other fashion people. They often post about when the sales are on and what's been marked down, to help you pick the best sales to attend.
Tomorrow: some insider tips for op (thrift) shopping, retail and eBay.