Sure, that 42-inch plasma TV for less than $300 is enticing, but the fact is those door busters are only attainable if you camp out and are willing to devote hours of your time. If you are like many Americans and tired of the consumerism blitz this time of year--and prefer to shop for thoughtful gifts that are unique and timeless--you'll be happy to know you have options. Consider these five non-traditional places for holiday bargains:
1. Thrift Stores. Your local thrift shop is a bona fide gold mine of unclaimed treasures. When it comes to holiday gift shopping, your best bets are in the home décor and artwork sections of the store. There you'll find interesting wall hangings, tools, knick knacks, and kitchen items. These make for thoughtful gifts for parent, grandparents, and collectors of all things "old" (not outdated). The key is to stay patient, as new inventory is always coming in. If at first you don't succeed, come back in a week's time and try again.
2. Consignment Stores. Many people wrongly think of a consignment shop as nothing more than a glorified garage sale. If you visit one in your area, you're more likely to be amazed with the first-run clothing, gifts, and antiques to be had. Much of the clothing will still have original price tags and be marked down more than 50 perfect in many cases. If you have a collector on your shopping list, a consignment shop should be your first stop. This is especially true if they collect sports memorabilia, classic toys, coins, books, magazines, and artwork.
3. Pawn Shops With the popularity of TV shows such as "Pawn Stars" and "Cajun Pawn Stars," pawn shops are appealing to more shoppers. At my local pawn shop, I recently discovered beautiful china, designer jewelry, new and old firearms, and artwork--and, best of all, the prices were a solid 40 to 50 percent off retail, with room for bargaining. Nine times out of 10, you shouldn't settle for the listed price.
4. Flea Markets. Your local flea market is a great stop for stocking stuffers, Christmas decorations, and gift ideas for the person on your list who "has everything." Some of it is old, some brand new, some antique, some rustic, and almost all of it has a lot of character. You just never know what you're going to find at the flea market, which is the appeal to many holiday shoppers. But the one thing that is almost guaranteed: The items will be reasonably priced. Similar to pawn shops, make sure you bargain for the best price.
5. Etsy.com If you have family and friends on your list who love handmade gifts and decorations, spend time shopping at Etsy.com. Etsy is a large collection of talented crafters and artists who sell their wares to consumers. Popular product lines include vintage clothing, handmade jewelry, artwork, handmade toys, home décor, and purses. Prices are reasonable and shipping charges--some of which can be pricey--are handled by individual sellers.
With traditional Black Friday door busters getting the majority of media attention, it's no wonder these shopping hot spots go relatively unnoticed. This is great news for shoppers who visit these places, as the crowds are typically small and the prices are a steal, which helps create the spirit of the holiday season.
Kyle James owns and operates a website called Rather-Be-Shopping.com, which specializes in online coupons and coupon alerts for more than 700 online stores. He also has a blog, where he writes about frugal living, creative ways to save money, and other musings.
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