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Why it Still Pays to Shop Brick and Mortar in 2021

Back in my day, we walked 15 miles uphill, both ways for a good deal... and we liked it!

Advertiser Disclosure: At Slickdeals, we work hard to find the best deals. Some products in our articles are from partners who may provide us with compensation, but this doesn’t change our opinions.

Online shopping has definitely made it easier to see who carries what and how much they’re charging, but a surprising number of the rarest and highest-value buys are found at brick and mortar retailers – even the ones who have a robust online presence. While you’re busy scrolling through Amazon, the item you’re looking for (or something even better) could be sitting quietly in a Walmart clearance bin or on the wrong shelf at Best Buy, just waiting for someone to notice that it’s 80% off.

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There is a time and place for convenience, but why spend your life thinking about what could have been? After all, you’ll never know about the in-store deals you didn’t look for. If you’re not convinced, here are the top reasons why it still pays to shop in brick and mortar stores:

Don’t Miss Out on Rare In-Store Deals

iStock-Sundry Photography walmart outdoor sunny day inbody storefront
iStock.com/Sundry Photography

When someone posts an unbelievable “Your Mileage May Vary” (YMMV) deal that requires a bit of research and legwork, they aren’t trying to gloat about their success or lead you on a wild goose chase — they’re saying “Hey! The stores aren’t advertising this, so I am!”

For example, consider this recent Apple TV deal at Walmart. This relatively new streamer costs upwards of $150 at full price, but user BringBackTron spotted one on clearance for $35. This clearance price was not reflected on BrickSeek or the Walmart product page, but multiple other users were successfully able to replicate the deal.

Even if you make the trek to your local Walmart and find that the exact same Apple TV is still listed at full price, user sarcasmogratis pointed out that in-store shopping comes with the benefit of talking to real people — you can’t negotiate with a checkout screen, but you can explain the deal to an associate and ask for a price adjustment. It’s not their Apple TV, they have nothing to gain by keeping it from you.

Take Advantage of Price Differences

home Depot Inbody people waiting to enter store storefront
iStock.com/Alex Potemkin

Price differences come in several different forms — some big-box stores have different sale schedules depending on region or products might be wildly popular in one location but rot in the shelves at another one. Different colors, shapes and other purely cosmetic features can also create a completely arbitrary price difference. Sometimes, the marked price is straight-up wrong. No matter the reason, store policies are typically on your side when it comes to honoring those game-changing YMMV deals that you worked hard to find.

When Slickdealer appel locked in a massive discount on a Hampton Bay Cantilever Offset Umbrella at Home Depot, they mentioned that there were plenty of similar (if not identical) models with “wildly varying prices.” If you were shopping for this online, the price discrepancies would drive you mad — BrickSeek says that it costs $499 at MSRP, but different colors run for as much as $599 on the Home Depot site. On top of that, the product was marked as $649 at full price when appel picked it up for $249 at their local Home Depot. In a situation like this, it pays to do your research online so you can make informed choices and advocate for your target price once you’re shopping in store.

Play the Open Box Deal Lottery

micro center inside
Credit: Micro Center

Retailers have gotten better at advertising their open-box and refurbished deals on their websites, but nothing can compete with the feeling of being the lucky Micro Center shopper who walked in moments after a freshly renewed 77″ LG OLED TV hit the shelves for $200 off.

Brick and mortar open-box shopping can really work in your favor at retailers like Micro Center and Best Buy, where repairs and certifications happen on site. When Best Buy was offloading a limited supply of Macbook Air M1 laptops, there was a significant price difference between “Excellent – Certified,” “Excellent” and “Satisfactory” Geek Squad graded computers. If you don’t care about looks and just need a decent computer, wouldn’t you prefer to spend $585 for a “Satisfactory” model instead of $701 for a new one?

The Thrill of the Hunt

BestBuy_Store_Shopper_3 inbody
Credit: Best Buy

As Deal Hunters, we enjoy saving money for the same reason as anyone else — to have more of it so we can buy the things we want and need. However, the community’s natural drive for discount scouting suggests an added layer of interest that can best be described as “the thrill of the hunt.” You can be more thorough and discerning while doing this online, but nothing will ever match the feeling of physically digging through shelves and endcaps and finding the deal you came for. You get instant gratification and you don’t need to pay for shipping.

We trek from Walmart to Walmart because our shared successes are exhilarating and worthy of celebration in Deal Threads and forums, and we work hard on replicating complex YMMV deals to save on mundane purchases for both the savings and the satisfaction.

We no longer live in an age where everyone has to find every sale on their own. When you set a Deal Alert for a product or category you’re looking to save on, you have access to the entire Slickdeals community’s collective wealth of information and deal-hunting skills.

More to consider:

Our editors strive to ensure that the information in this article is accurate as of the date published, but please keep in mind that offers can change. We encourage you to verify all terms and conditions of any product before you apply.

Oliver Pretl-Drummond

Oliver Pretl-Drummond is a copywriter, memoirist and Scorpio living in Baltimore, MD. Primed by years of recreational research spirals, they've helped Slickdeals document hundreds of arcane store policies and hidden coupon tricks for the greater good of deal hunters everywhere. They spend their days seeking and sharing killer deals on budget travel, sound systems, home goods and tech. By night, their free time is reserved for making bass music while consuming exotic caffeinated beverages with their partner and growing family of yucca plants.

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