Monday, December 11, 2006

Saving Money on Big Stuff That (Almost) Never Goes On Sale

You have your eye on a pricey item at an overpriced shop like Pottery Barn. You wait and wait for it to go on doesn't. What can you do not to pay full price?

Now that we have had a home for about a year and a half, a big challenge has been actually furnishing it. This house has four (small) bedrooms, a front family room, and a large "real" family room, all of which needed to be furnished. Before living here, we lived in an apartment. I refused to let Spouse bring the futon that's been around since the college days (the result was us sitting on an air mattress for the first two months we lived here!).

Anyway, we're buying good-quality furniture to last...Ikea is not really doing it for us anymore for most things. We've found that Crate and Barrel has a lot of stuff we like but boy, some of their stuff is really expensive. And then a lightbulb came on in my head one day. If you can register for silverware and dishes at Crate and Barrel, can you register for the furniture?

This question didn't interest me because I expected some fairy godmother to come along and buy everything on our registry—-the key here is the completion discount. Once your event date has passed (and "event date" can be anything from your anniversary or birthday to...uh...less celebrated "celebrations" like Arbor Day), you get a coupon in the mail offering you 10% off anything that's still on your registry. You take that coupon into the store, order your furniture, and then you save some dough (albeit not much, but when you're buying a $2,000 dining room set...that's $200) on items that you were going to buy anyway.

This is a trick that's great to keep in mind this time of year, because your friends and family might actually pony up for (smaller) somethings on your chosen registry, or at least give you gift certificates that you can apply to your big purchase. I've just set up a Christmas gift registry for us on Crate and Barrel (I think we've gotten over the Amazon wish list) so that our friends and family know what we really want.

Q: Does Crate and Barrel care if you do this?
A: No. We create a registy whenever we see something that we like. And every time we take these coupons into the store and they look our names up...they don't blink an eye. Just think of how much this stuff is marked up...they're still making money. If it makes you feel less guilty, put some dishtowels on the registry and ask your brother to buy you those.

Q: Do other stores offer this discount?
A: Yes, tons. I know Pottery Barn does (their completion certificate is sent via email) and I'll bet pretty much any store that has a registry would do this. Just determine beforehand whether they have a completion program discount.

Q: How long does it take to get the completion coupon in the mail?
A: It'll come about two weeks after your event date. So if you really wanted that armoire ASAP, you better make up a celebration that just happens to be tomorrow!

Q: What's troublesome about this process?
A: C&B, at least, makes you call an agent if you want to put furniture on the registry. I don't know why. I don't think that Pottery Barn did this. Also, C&B at least doesn't let you use the coupon online--you have to bring it into the store to use it.

Q: What's really great about these coupons?
A: Sometimes the stuff on your registry actually does go on sale, or they sell the display models of those items. You can still use your 10% coupon (provided that the item was on your registry) for even more savings!

PS--If you, too, are a C&B fan, here's a tip: They're having a furniture sale starting the day after Christmas. The salesperson I know tells me that it will include floor models. While everyone else is buying Xmas decorations for 50% off, you know where I'll be...


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