February is upon us and everywhere you look, shades of red and pink dominate the retail landscape. Valentine's Day is already less than two weeks away and stores offering popular gifts are getting their mark-up pens ready.
Instead of paying too much for roses, diamonds and chocolates this year, Andrea Woroch a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert suggests you consider these 8 unusual outlets when searching for the perfect and inexpensive gift!
1. Flash-Sale Sites
Flash-sale sites offer unique opportunities to buy designer duds for deep discounts, though you have to sign up to see their wares. Ideeli, HauteLook and MyHabit are popular websites, but Gilt makes it easy on you by offering Valentine's Day-specific categories. Lingerie, luxury gifts and date-night apparel are accessible in one click but, for a limited time.
While I don't advise asking your ex for Valentine's Day gift ideas, I do suggest perusing ExboyfriendJewelry.com to buy bling for your beau. Find discounts on fine jewelry, fashion accessories and handbags while reading disastrous breakup and background stories from total strangers.
3. Pawn Shops
Pawn shops may not give you the warm and fuzzies, but they can give you a great deal on a desirable gift. Jewelry is an obvious purchase, but you can also find personal gifts like vintage cameras or vinyl record players. Know what you're looking for and how much you're willing to spend before visiting one of these fine establishments.
4. Antique Stores
As a less-creepy alternative to the pawn shop, you can find one-of-a-kind gifts at your local flea market or thrift store. For instance, a friend of mine round a beautiful, halo-round aquamarine ring at an antique shop for his wife last year. You can also find collectibles, vintage books, vinyl records and a host of other items perfect for Valentine's Day thoughtfulness.
Forget boutique shops and department stores; your local drugstore is where it's at this Valentine's Day. Better yet, stay home at go online for savings on popular gift items. Search for coupon codes from such sites as CouponSherpa.com for offers like 20-percent off all fragrances from Walgreens.
6. Daily Deal Sites
Groupon and LivingSocial offer more options than just a printed voucher for a massage. These daily deal sites are also gearing up for Valentine's Day by offering deep discounts on flowers, jewelry, cupcakes and gourmet candies. You can also offset the cost of a romantic dinner with a daily deal, or buy a practical gift for less (auto window tinting – you shouldn't have!).
7. Gift Card Exchanges
Like daily deals, discount gift cards can serve as the gifts themselves or to help offset the cost of a purchase you have in mind. Such sites as GiftCardGranny.com make it easy to find the best deal on gift cards to Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Victoria's Secret and other retailers. Alternatively, you can buy cards to Fogo de Chao or The Melting Pot to save a little on dinner.
If you're heading home from a business trip, chances are you haven't had time to shop for your sweetie. Airport retail is a blooming industry with chain stores offering the same prices and promotions as traditional locations. Find jewelry, fragrance, electronics and beauty products and more as you head toward the terminal. Just be sure to pack everything in accordance with TSA rules!