It's hard to imagine how we did things before Amazon, which brings us anything we need in a very short timeframe. But there's more to the site than super speedy delivery. For several years now, I've been indulging in my champagne taste on a beer budget, all thanks to their hidden-in-plain-sight deals. I'm talking about Amazon Warehouse and third party sellers. See, that price right next to the item you must have? That doesn't have to be the price you pay. And while sometimes it may be just a few bucks you save, sometimes there are some screaming deals to be found.
If you're not familiar with Amazon Warehouse, it's an offshoot of the website, and sells returned, warehouse-damaged, used, or refurbished products from 30 Amazon departments. You can find tons of stuff: Paper towels that have been opened, returned ceiling fans— all sold from either Amazon itself, or third-party sellers.
As a serial renovator, I've saved beaucoup bucks over the years thanks to Amazon Warehouse deals. I've bought lighting, bath and kitchen fixtures, and gadgets to outfit the house—ranging from a Wi-Fi extender to heated mattress pad. Sometimes I save only five bucks on something like a hand towel, but when you repeat those savings over and over, it adds up big time.
They don't make the deals obvious. The regular price is in a red font, usually next to the happy little Prime check mark and name. You have to scroll down past their credit card sales pitches, the specs on the item, and finally, you'll see the words you're looking for: Used & new. (On their mobile site it's buried down below the bright 'Add to Cart' and 'Buy it Now' buttons, and even further below 'Add to List' and 'Add to Your Dash Buttons.')
To use an example, I recently bought this small fridge for my dogs' food. As you can see above, Amazon currently has three "Used & new options from $122.75" available. At the time I bought it, this $150 fridge was just $90.34. So it depends on the day, and what's available at the time. Click through to see what's in stock at the moment, who's selling it, and why it's discounted.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Let's take a little trip down memory lane and look at some of my bigger scores, shall we?
- I loved the matte brass look of Delta's Champagne Bronze fixtures, but $199 was too much for a showerhead. Luckily I found it for $51.
- And the beautiful Delta kitchen sink faucet was not going to happen at $486, but the refurbished one for $203 had literally nothing wrong with it.
- Renovations make dust, so we bought a HEPA air filter, list price $230, warehouse price $120.
- Our Detroit house didn't have AC so we needed a monster-sized window unit AC. An LG 8000 BTU beast was priced at more than $300; we nabbed it for $185.
- After seeing the painter at work on our Victorian clean up with a Shark Navigator, I tracked one down that listed for $250 and got it for $147.
- This is more daily life than renovation, but one of my best deals was a $500 Roomba for $256.
If you're tempted to take advantage of prices like these, here are a few tips and things you need to know:
It may not always be Prime
It's the luck of the draw here. Maybe the great price comes with free Prime delivery, maybe not. That means you might pay a few bucks for shipping, or wait a few days. Just don't assume it's free, fast shipping if you're on a tight deadline— make sure you look for that little Prime check mark.
It may be damaged, but they will tell you
These items are often returns. On the fridge listing above, the description said: Condition: Used - Acceptable - Large cosmetic imperfection(s) on top, front or sides of item. Small cosmetic imperfections on the corner of the item. Item will come repackaged.
It was a gamble, but we rolled the dice because it was going in a space where both sides would be hidden from view. It turned out to be fine; I didn't see anything wrong with it. That's nearly always been the case, but other times there have been clear defects. Most often it's just the packaging that is damaged.
You can send it back
If the idea of a flaw or two doesn't bother you, it doesn't hurt to take the chance, as long as you have time to order a replacement as your backup plan if the item you order doesn't work out. Nearly all my bath and kitchen fixtures came refurbished, and only one item was visibly dented when it arrived. I'd allowed plenty of time, so I returned it (only to see it pop back up for sale again!) and got another one.
Read the reviews first
I feel pretty confident when the seller is Amazon Warehouse Deals, Inc. When it's a third party seller, I spend a minute checking their reviews. That Delta sink faucet, for example, came from a seller called VIP Outlet. They had a ton of reviews, with 95 percent positive ratings in the last twelve months, so I could see it wasn't a fly-by-night or shady operation.
If you do run into a questionable third-party seller, the good news is your purchase is still covered by Amazon's A-Z guarantee. Since they're the ones processing payment, so you can turn to them if there's an issue.
Skip straight to the deals
If you don't want to comb through listings hoping for a bargain, head right to the Warehouse storefront, where all the deals are gathered for you. You can drill down to narrow categories, like Tools & Home Improvement > Kitchen & Bath Fixtures > Kitchen Fixtures, or Home & Kitchen > Lighting & Ceiling Fans > Ceiling Lights.
...Or wait for them to come to you
If you have your eye on one specific thing and can wait, use a tool like CamelCamelCamel to monitor the price. You can check a price history to see what you might be able to get it for, and set an alert to notify you when the price from Amazon, third-party new, or third-party used drops to the price you're looking for. (I have one set now for a sink strainer to match the faucet because, seriously, $65 for a matchy-matchy strainer just isn't happening.)