Monday, October 26, 2009

Bargain Crafting 101: The Bargain Crafter's Virtues

In response to a question from Glynda over at 2S4Y about good places to find cheap crafting supplies, I've decided to start posting a series of tips that condense much of what I've learned about the exciting world of BARGAIN CRAFTING--because really, scrapping and crafting are ten times more fun when you can smile that self-satisfied little smile knowing you recycled something, or found the ultimate bargain of the month!
While I can't cover all the ways you can stretch your crafting dollar in this one post or even in those to come, I can give a few overall tips to begin with. We will begin with what I will call the Bargain Crafter's virtues:
#1 Patience
#2 Creativity
#3 Temperance
#4 Awareness
#5 Practicality
#6 Honesty
So, we will begin with: Patience.
Tip #1: You don't need a new product as soon as it's released.
Sure, it's in style. And is it cool and oh-so-gorgeous? Of course. But if it's a good product, it'll still be there a couple of months from now, when the initial novelty of the thing has worn off and stores need to start selling their inventory off faster to make way for other new items. You don't have to ride the first wave. It's the same way with computers and everything else--wait till the manufacturers have the kinks worked out and the item goes on sale. Stay just behind the big sharks and you'll get the best scraps.... My apologies for the terrible pun... ;)
Tip #2: Bigger craft stores have an ad-cycle.
Here in the US the big ones are Hobby Lobby, Michaels and JoAnns. You can also find Crafting aisles in Target and WalMart, and I think KMart, though we don't have one where I live. (I say craft aisles because you can find crafting materials in many other places; but we'll cover that later on.) You can watch the weekly specials ads online without even driving over to the store and risking temptation... or paying for gas. Hobby Lobby's site, for instance, also lets you print out their weekly coupon. As you watch from week to week, you'll realize that the ads cycle in two or three-month gyres. Wait it out.
Tip #3: Yellow and Red are your new favorite colors!
Clearance aisles do not turn over very quickly, so you'll get to know the ones in your town like the back of your hand. However, remember this: items go on clearance for various reasons. Either they are defective or damaged, are unpopular sells, or were simply overstocked. If the item is damaged, see if you can live with it or repair it. I've gotten many 12x12 leather albums marked down to 60% off because they were ripped on the outside. If it's simply ugly, no amount of markdown should convince you otherwise. If it's obviously been overstocked or a few parts are missing--you might be in luck. Stamp sets are great in this regard. The sets are almost always FAR more economical than single wood-mounted ones. Above all, consider everything carefully.
Here's a recent stamp set I had considered purhcasing when it went 50% off awhile back, but then declined at the time. It's a set of 12 Natural-themed Cling stamps from See D's Sugar Shoppe. Any one of these images mounted singly on a wood block would have cost between $7-8 and would have taken up a good deal of storage space. As it was, I got the whole set on clearance for $7.14
Tip #4: All clearance tags are not equal.
Clearance aisles work a little like a consignment shop. The longer you're willing to wait, the better your chance that the store will keep whacking down the price until it's at a level you're willing to go for. Yes, you DO take the risk that there will be another bargain shopper who wants it more, and is willing to pay more than you. Think of it as some kind of epic test of will and discipline. Of course, you could be unsporting and hide that nice stamp at the bottom of the bin underneath some uglier ones--but it will also be less likely to get marked down again quickly. If I lose something I've been watching on clearance--oh well. Someone else will enjoy it and there will be other bargains for me to crow over. Watch for 2 or 3 yellow or red tags on top of each other before you give yourself a green light.
Here is an example. These are "Wallies"--wallpaper cutouts from Anna Griffin. Originally $8.99 at Hobby Lobby, they went through at least 6 markdowns until they reached $1.93. They look great for Vintage cards or just quick greetings.
Tip #5: If you forgot it was there after a couple of weeks, chances are you would forget it was in your craft drawer at home.
This might seem terribly obvious, but the truth is that most of us collect far more possibilities than we are able to realize. Crafting is no exception, and our stash frequently grows to enormous proportions... which we only fully realize once we decide to A) Organize, or B) Move. It's at times like this we wind up offering free giveaways on our blogs in hopes someone else will enjoy our unused stash! So, if you forgot about it on the clearance aisle or the store rack... chances are you'll forget about it again. Things that look so gorgeous at first eventually do not seem so necessary when we think about it more. The trick is discipline. As a very perceptive man has said, "IT WON'T HURT YOU TO WANT SOMETHING, AND NOT HAVE IT" (Boyd K. Packer). Eventually you'll find you didn't really need that particular thing--and in fact, you don't really even want it.
Here are a few more recent finds that might help illustrate my point:
Chloe's Closet tiny alphabet by Making Memories: $1.99 at Michaels Clearance
Used on my recent Scrapbook Page "My Brother, My Friend"

The Paper Studio 12x12 Memory Album

You can see the original price of $16.99 here, as well as the super-slashed clearance price of $6.11 (Why clearance items are seldom in whole-dollar increments puzzles me; but, be that as it may...) The album is in perfect condition, except that it had had its 10 insert pages stolen. We will address honesty as I post on each of the other "Bargain Crafter's Virtues."

In the meantime, Happy Crafting all and, as always,

Have a wonderful day!


1 comment:

  1. Fab tips! I usually shop by them anyway. I'm so disciplined, lol.


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