What is a Bargain Basement?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 27 February 2020
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A bargain basement typically refers to a sale where prices on items are far below regular retail value or asking price. It does not typically refer to an actual location. Some stores, however, might have sale areas that are referred to as the "bargain basement" areas, where clearance or sale items are found; these sale areas might be on the lowest floor of the store, which is how the term "bargain basement" was first used.

Shopping bargain basement sales is an excellent way to save money. In this type of sale, prices are likely to be the lowest they will ever be. The reduced prices in such a sale can be found on any type of merchandise, including clothing, electronics, technology, sporting goods, or even wedding gowns, just to name a few.

Sometimes these sales can be slightly challenging to shop, because items are not often carefully organized. Sometimes items are thrown into a bargain bin or arranged haphazardly on racks, which can make finding specific items or particular sizes difficult. In addition, because these sales generally happen at the end of a season before new merchandise arrives, the selection may be quite limited. It is possible to find great deals at these sales, however.


Merchants can make great use of a bargain basement sale. Advertising greatly reduced prices on certain items is a great way to get customers in the store; once they are there and shopping, they are more likely to buy other items at full price, even new seasonal merchandise that has just arrived. Another option is to stock an entire store full of bargain basement merchandise.

Stores like these may buy overstock merchandise or last season's merchandise from other retailers, then sell it at low prices. Other stores might sell slightly irregular merchandise. Frequently, the irregularities in clothing, for example, are difficult or impossible to see, and shopping at this type of store can be a great way to find deals on designer merchandise. Bargain basement goods and apparel are not usually cheap or poor quality merchandise, simply merchandise that has not sold in its allotted time frame, and which needs to be moved to make room for newer items.

Stores may advertise bargain basement prices in sale fliers or on T.V. commercials, and it is a good idea to keep an eye out for these sales and to get there early. The best items tend to be sold fairly quickly. Shopping these extreme clearance sales is just one more way to save money and be a smart shopper.



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