True Bargain Hunters Need to Know This Online Shopping Tip

published Feb 25, 2018
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(Image credit: Liz Calka)

Some people are very straightforward shoppers—they know what they want and they don’t want to spend a lot of time or mental energy getting it. For the rest of us, shopping is a game. A game we want to win. We’ll gladly spend hours paging through websites, weighing all our options and cross checking everywhere for the best price. We’re convinced there are treasures hiding in the clearance aisle and we’ve never passed up a perusal of the as-is section. If this sounds like you, let me let you in on another shopping strategy to keep in your back pocket.

Have you heard of “open box”? It means that a customer ordered something, decided it wasn’t what they had in mind and then returned it. The returns department then inspects it to ensure it’s in good condition and then they offer it for sale again at a reduced price. So it’s a new, unused item that, typically, has been opened or unboxed. (Although I’ve bought open box items over the years and many haven’t been opened at all.)

Open box sales are most common in retail electronics (Best Buy and Walmart have robust offerings in this category worth checking out) but there are also home goods stores with open box sections on their websites including Wayfair, Bellacor, Lumens and Lamps Plus (these lighting stores sell furniture and decor, too, if you didn’t know).

Below are some current open box sales which will give you an idea of the savings. The downside to open box is that the offerings are unpredictable. You may find something you love, but it’s best as a fun place to check in rather than likely to yield a specific item on your list. Also inventory can change from day to day and there is usually only one piece offered at that price—so act quickly if you want to buy.

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Mercury Row Marotta Writing Desk, $162.74 (originally 216.99)

Made for small spaces that might not be conducive to full-size desks, this slim writing desk has two roomy drawers and can easily serve a variety of functions. Pair it with a mirror and use it as minimalist vanity, or finally have a place for your laptop that isn’t just by your bed. It also can work as a console to house art, books, and lamps.

(Image credit: Walmart)

Sceptre 50″ Class FHD (1080P) LED TV, $199.99 (originally $349.99)

This a great deal on a highly-rated TV that you won’t find often. 50″ is an ideal size for small to mid-sized rooms, and the LED lighting and FHD quality means you’ll get sharp clarity. 

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Langley Street Brook Dining Chairs (set of 2), $101.66 (originally $119.60)

A version of the ultra popular dining chair that’s taking over our Instagram and Pinterest feeds, the Brook chair has a rounded plastic seat coupled with wood legs. Wayfair offers this chair in a variety of color and wood choices, but this classic combination is 15 percent off with the open box deal. 

(Image credit: Lumens)

Anglepoise Type 75 Desk Lamp, $171.51 (originally $245)

This limited edition task lamp pairs industrial design with nostalgia–the design was inspired by an originals 1970s lamp owned by the designer, Margaret Howell. It’s ideal for home office spaces, or a serious reading nook.

(Image credit: Lumens)

Herman Miller Cosm Mid Back Stool, $913.51 (originally $1,305)

Herman Miller office chairs typically sell for well over $1,300, so to find one under $1,000 is notable. The Cosm stool is height-adjustable, with mid-back support and auto-harmonic tilt for maximum comfort. We actually use a different Herman Miller chair in the AT office–you really can’t beat their quality and comfort. 

This post was updated on March 14, 2019 to reflect current offerings.