As you know, we have had some seriously blessed luck recently with appliances at Lowe’s. First the stove, then our washer and dryer combo, and most recently, our fridge. All told, these appliances originally would have cost: $4,150. We paid: $2,490. Or just at 60% of full retail price.
But how the heck are we doing it?
Here’s the truth: We are at Lowe’s Way. Too. Much. At least once a week, but most often more. Usually it’s a small trip. A can of spray paint. A tube of caulk. A new part for the toilet. So on and so forth. But we’re there often. And almost every time we’re there, we walk by the appliance section, just because of where it’s located in the store. And so we routinely see a row of appliances that are set apart from the rest. They all carry the yellow sign on them that says REDUCED. Let’s break down this sign.
The signs are typically taped to the front or top of the appliance. The top tells you the original price if it was shiny, brand new, boxed up in the back of the store. And then the price it is now. If it was a Display model, that is pretty clear. It means it’s been on the floor, and now they want to move it out. It has not been in anyone’s home, but people have been touching it and messing with it often. Opening doors, pressing buttons, etc. If that bugs ya, well, there you go. If not, it’s a good choice. Repaired is next, and this usually means one of two things. Either something was obvious to the store as they were unloading the shipment before it ever got to anyone’s house (like the connector hose is split and they replaced it). Or it went into someone’s home, and they called Lowe’s back saying “It’s not working” and they replaced theirs and brought the first one back to have their people look at it. It will say whether the unit has been checked out, what the problem was, and if it was fixed. Damaged means it’s something they cannot or will not fix. Scratches, dents, missing door pull, etc. Those are considered “damages.” Our stove was “damaged.” It has a ding in the back. It does not affect the integrity of the unit or how it works. But they have to disclose that. And then there is “other,” which can have a ton of different explanations. (Our fridge was an “other.” It was unboxed on accident.) Here are two examples of “others.”
Non-stock means it is the last of its kind, and they are no longer carrying that brand, or maybe just that specific style of item. The customer didn’t want it is also more common than you might think. The ones that are either non-stock, display items or unboxed items…they go fast. They don’t drop the price down very low, and they go quickly. Why? Because it’s an unused, essentially brand new appliance that, as long as you don’t care that it was handled, or that it was unboxed, or that there’s a scratch on the side, you’re scoring a great deal. These types don’t sit on the floor long. The price is also usually firm with managers, because they know if you don’t want it at the reduced price it is, someone else will, and fast. So take that for what it’s worth.
The ones with “damages” or returned for repairs, those sit around much longer. This gives them more wiggle room on the price, because the managers know they’re not as desirable.
So maybe you’ve seen an appliance there, and you think it’s something that would work for you. But how do you get more money off the price?
You can watch the price drop a little more simply by waiting. They tend to lower prices on things like this weekly or bi-weekly. It’s the manager’s discretion but basically they want someone else to take them off their hands. Not only to make more space on the showroom floor and in back, but to save on having to ship them back anywhere else. So if you see something that makes you look twice, check the back of the REDUCED sign. They are usually taped on there with painter’s tape, so don’t be afraid to lift it off and check the back. At our Lowe’s, every time the price drops, the mark it on the back. (See the photo above.) It gives the date the appliance was originally priced at (if it had been brand new), the dates of the reductions, what those price reductions were, and the initials of the manager who made the reduction. If you see it’s been marked down weekly, and another price drop is coming up according to that pattern…hold off if you can. That drops the price down more without you even having to work for it.
From there, use the phrase, “Is this the best you can do?” when it comes to the price. Sometimes they will say “Yes.” They’ll hold firm. That’s fine, you have walk-away power. You know how often they drop the price. You can wait until there’s another price drop. Or, you can walk away and try again later. A different manager might have another theory. Or in a month (or however long) you can point to the back of the sign and say “It’s been here two months now. I’m willing to take it off your hands for $X.” They might come back with a different price and you can haggle from there.
Side note: Sometimes merely asking, having them say “price is firm” and walking away can trigger a price drop. I did this two months ago with a different fridge. I asked if there was any wiggle room. They stared at me like I was insane and said “No, we can’t go any lower. It’s already 30% off.” I said “Okay, thanks for your time,” and walked away. I came back the next day for a completely different reason, passed by it again, and what do you know? It was $175 cheaper. My asking the price, then walking away, made them realize the fridge was overpriced still. (“We can’t go any lower” my foot.)
Other times they might haggle with you right then and there, the first time you ask. Be prepared to know what your walk-away price is before you get into the game!
It’s up to you what you think the appliance is worth. But unlike brand spanking new ones, these REDUCED models do come with manager’s discretion on how they price them. And make no mistake, they want them out of their hands.
It’s a gamble, of course. You could walk away thinking you’ll wait 4 more days until the routine drop, and someone else will come in behind you and grab it. We’ve had that happen, too. (Sniffle. Goodbye, dishwasher we were stalking…) But in our minds, if we have working appliances at home, then we can afford to hold off until we’re prepared to jump. Yeah, sometimes an appliance might get away from us. But that’s okay, because we’re comfortable with our budget and choices. If we were appliance-less, or ours were broken, we might think differently. But as we are upgrading from existing appliances, it’s something we can afford to be patient on.
Things you need to do before you even check with a manager: Check the dimensions of your appliance openings at home. Write them on a little piece of paper and have it stuck somewhere in your purse or wallet so you know where it is at all times. The people at Lowe’s can measure the appliance you are curious about, but clearly nobody is going home to measure your space for you. (We learned this one the hard way.) Sometimes, if the item was repaired and was in someone’s home, it might need to be cleaned. Just a fact of life. If that grosses you out, you need to stick to the non-stock or unboxed items. Don’t even open the repaired ones. Trust me… Give the entire thing a good once-over. Lift any signs (like the REDUCED sign) and check for scratches, dents, dings, loose edges, frays, etc. You are buying this as-is. This is the exact appliance coming home with you. You can’t go “Oh I like this fridge but it’s got a scratch from someone’s cart. Oh well, the one in the back is still boxed up so it won’t have a scratch when it gets to me!” The scratch is there, and it’s yours. Can you live with it? Research that make and model yourself. Most of the time the item # will be up there on the sign. If it’s not, ask the manager to direct you to the floor model. Then google. Is this a piece of crap appliance even in the best of circumstances with a two-star customer rating? Don’t bother. Is it a fantastic, 4.5 star-rated appliance that just got banged up esthetically on the trip to the store? Something to consider.
Things you need to ask the manager: What do the codes mean under the “repaired” column mean? They are usually in-house codes that indicate what the repair was. Ask them to show you the original appliance (brand new) on the show room floor. That will give you more information on the appliance. If you are buying a Damaged or a Repaired item, ask about the warranty. Depending on the damage or state of the repair, you might be left with nothing past a 90 day warranty. Others might give you the typical 1-year store warranty you get standard with any new appliance. Is something missing, like the door handle? Ask them to call the manufacturer to see how much ordering that part will cost. There’s no point in buying a fridge for $300 off the original price if the door handle will cost you $350. (But once they find out how much it will cost…this might be a great bargaining tool for you to lower that price more. Heck, see if they’ll pay the shipping on the handle. Why not?)
So give it a try. Check next time you’re in there and see if anything strikes your fancy. And ask “Is this the best you can do?” on the price. What’s the harm in asking?