Best Budget Stores: Big Box and Outlet

Marketplace 2009

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We have mixed feelings about big box retailers. They can be impersonal, and it's often difficult to figure out if their products have been made in a fair and/or sustainable way. On the other hand, they're efficient and skilled in producing BULK quantities that equate to consumer savings.They're also accessible. Big box stores usually have multiple locations throughout the country and a strong online presence. Sometimes when you need something basic and cheap, and you need it now, a big box store turns out to be the best option. Here's a list of our "go-to" big box retailers and outlet stores if you're shopping on a tight budget.

  1. IKEA (Various Locations/Online): For Scandinavian style on a budget, IKEA can't be beat. It became one of the world's largest retailers by providing affordable furniture that looks good, and its iconic brand is both praised and critiqued in a way that few furniture stores ever experience.
  2. Target (Various Locations/Online): Love it or hate it, Target's Design for All campaign has made the store a go-to source for mass produced designer goods on a budget. Favorite lines include Orla Kiely's housewares, DwellStudio bedding, and Victoria Hagen accessories.
  3. Overstock.com (Online): Like a yard sale for new things, Overstock sells everything from event tickets to iPods, but for our purposes they sell cordless drills, vacuums, air purifiers, rugs, outdoor and indoor furniture, as well as showerheads and bedding.
  4. Room and Board Outlet (Minneapolis): It is a massive space and the deals are abundant. Most of the stuff there seems to be marked down at least 30%, some as much as 75%. There are lots of dents and scratches, but you can also find custom order returns, overstock, and samples that never made it to production.
  5. Amazon.com (Online): From TVs to GPS systems to home theater equipment, the electronics section of Amazon.com features almost anything you could want. In addition to the regular electronics section, the Outlet, Used and Refurbished section seems just as large with the possibility of finding some good deals if you're lucky.
  6. Sears Appliance Outlets (Various Locations/Online): These outlet stores carry discontinued or slightly blemished appliances at reduced prices of 15%-50% off retail. Their warehouse was filled with aisles and aisles of all types of appliances, some very new, and others in slightly worse condition. However, all the appliances come with the Sears guarantee.
  7. Muji (New York/Online): This global purveyor of minimalist Japanese goods only has U.S. brick-and-mortar stores in New York, but this year (to our delight) they finally launched an online store for U.S. customers.
  8. CB2 (Various Locations/Online): As with Crate & Barrel's offerings, CB2 is well made, colorful and fun, but certainly not edgy design. What stands out, however, aside from the vitalizing and zingy color, is how much of the furniture is scaled for small urban spaces.
  9. Crate and Barrel Outlet (Chicago/Online): The savings on the items at the Crate and Barrel outlet are 20 to 70% off which makes it a good spot for everyday items of quality that are a touch more affordable.
  10. Designer Linens Outlet (Online): Designer Linens Outlet is exactly that: designer bedding at outlet prices. They sell direct from manufacturers so you'll score discounts of 35% - 85% off retail.


Photo: IKEA

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