SAN ANTONIO – Shop early. Shop often. That’s the mantra of bargain hunters who are literally digging for deals at liquidation outlets.
Shopping in this booming market is part treasure hunt, part sport.
At Bargains Depot, located at 6707 NW Loop 410, Gilbert Cortez, who’d just gathered up a Halloween mask and necklace, said his best find ever was a tablet.
“I found it for five bucks,” he said. “And these shoes right here -- look at these shoes -- five bucks.”
The cavernous warehouse is filled with large bins stacked with items that range from clothing to leftover Halloween decor to large containers of paprika.
Where do they get their inventory?
“We get it from all the major retailers,” said owner Fuad Jebreel. “So if you shop anywhere from Target, Wallyworld (Walmart), Amazon, you know, we’ve got it here more than likely -- and for a fraction of the price.”
Big retailers like Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart and Amazon unload their glut of surplus inventory and products that customers returned on the secondary market, which is now a multibillion-dollar industry.
At the Deals Outlet Bin Store, located at 1119 S. General McMullen, inventory ranged from baby onesies to the bathroom sink.
First-time bin shopper Leticia Rios scored a bag of faux flowers.
“Not even Dollar Tree has flowers anymore for a dollar,” she said. “And these were a dollar.”
Items in the bins were priced at $3 each. Around the perimeter were stacks of home decor items, a child’s scooter, a pillow, small home appliances, lawn tools and more. Many were priced at approximately half of retail.
An air fryer listed for $80 on Amazon was priced at $55. A pendant light priced at $40 was listed for $149 on Home Depot’s website. A s’mores roaster, priced at $40, was listed for $60 on Target’s website.
“They just love it,” said Mary Garza with the Deals Outlet Bin Store. “Things that they buy at Walmart -- they come back over here, and it’s like $8, and it’s like $15, $20 at Walmart.”
While it can take some digging, savings can be found. A Danielle Steel novel, a Contigo water bottle, a large package of pineapple party straws, a faux plant and a large bag of velvet pumpkins added to about $27. A check for those items online showed a total of about $73.
Various stores operate slightly differently. Some put out new inventory that arrives by truckload almost weekly on Fridays. On that day, items in the bins are priced at their highest, approximately $8 each. The price then drops a dollar a day throughout the week.
“Early Bird gets the worm,” said Garza.
Following the outlets’ social media can pay. At Bargains Depot, Jebreel said they often give away valuable prizes, like Apple Products or a PlayStation.
Not everything in an outlet is necessarily a great deal. Savvy shoppers should research the retail price. And they should check the item carefully because the signs say, “All sales are final.”