Your Mileage May Vary!
When it comes to hunting down deals in retail stores, it’s always YMMV (“your mileage may vary”). What does this mean? It means that your time, amount of effort, and the results will likely vary from everyone else. Each store is different in many ways -- different employees, different management styles, different layouts, different items carried, different prices, just about everything is different. Because of this, what one person experiences at their local store will likely be different than how your experience goes at your local store. However, one thing is certainly common with deal hunters -- we all strike out sometimes when trying to find items!
Why couldn’t you find your item?
There could be many different reasons why you (or an associate) couldn’t find an item! Lost or misplaced items, stolen items, old display models, broken items that have been returned and are set to be sent back via claims, etc., the list could probably go on and on but these are the most common reasons.
Theft is almost always a possibility for not finding an item, even when it comes to larger items like TVs. It’s a sad truth but its a realistic possibility that someone may have stolen the item(s) that you’re looking for. As you gain experience chasing certain items or brands, you will begin to learn which ones are more sought after by thieves than others. Hint: there is a reason why Walmart has fake Dyson vacuums on display instead of a real one.
Lost and misplaced items is the most common reason that I’ve experienced for why items aren’t easily found. Walmart, for example, is a huge retailer and they carry an incredible amount of different items at each store. Items can often be found in boxes on top of the aisle shelving, stacked on the shelves in the garden center, out back in the stockroom shelves, in a secured cage in the back, in a storage container out behind the store, and again the list could go on and on. Have you ever seen the stockroom at Walmart, especially leading up to the holidays? A simple google image search helps us all get a better understanding of the nightmare that could exist at your local store:
Good luck finding that clearance Barbie in all of this!
Another common reason for not finding an item is the possibility of it being an old display model item (i.e. computers, TVs, speakers) or a broken item that has been returned and waiting to be processed through claims. Old display items don’t always get processed through claims like expected, sometimes they’re sitting in a room out back without a power cable or a box only to be forgotten and found months, even years later. It happens! When these items aren’t properly accounted for, their on hand inventory may still be reporting limited stock because the item was never processed through claims and sent back so they’re still showing up on hand. When items are processed through claims properly the store’s inventory will be adjusted. This helps avoid these types of issues but things happen that complicate that process and it’s not always adjusted as expected. This is something to keep in mind.
Keys to Success
Persistence, patience, and being respectful are my three personal keys to success.
Persistence - Just because something isn’t easily found doesn’t mean that it’s not actually there. Sometimes you have to ask multiple employees for help locating items (which includes them searching high and low in the back room). Sometimes this requires coming back to the store another time or another day and making multiple trips for it. That doesn’t mean annoy them but at the same time don’t just give up so easily.
Patience - continuing with above, sometimes you have to be patient for deals because the items aren’t on clearance yet locally but it also means being patient while chasing items that aren’t so easily located.
Being Respectful - everyone has heard the saying that you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar. Being respectful and polite when asking associates for help can often go a long way towards getting good help and also towards building a good relationship with them. The more you deal hunt the more you interact with the same employees. It’s better to have them on your side for the long run than it is to risk upsetting them while scoring a single deal. Keep in mind that the retailer is trying to sell these items to make room on the shelves for newer items, it’s in everyone’s best interests for you to find these deals. Work with them and build connections with them, don’t burn bridges!
What can I do to increase the chances of finding an item?
When you’re looking for items at the stores and you can’t find them on your own you’re eventually going to need to ask someone for assistance. You can casually describe the item to them or show them what it looks like on their own retailer app but that isn’t always enough. Another option that you have is the option to have the barcode saved on your phone and ready for them to scan it with their handheld devices. When they look up the item with their handheld, it will return to them the item name, the price, the quantity on hand, as well as some additional information that is sometimes available like where the item is being stored. You can choose whatever option you’re most comfortable and confident in, but just take into consideration that only scanning the barcode on their device will tell them about a possible back room location where the item might be located. If you decide to go the barcode route, click “view barcode” when using BrickSeek’s Inventory Checker page and save a screenshot of the barcode image and have it available later when you make your trip to the store.
Good luck and happy BrickSeeking!