a little bird told me

Monday, 12 November 2012

How To Find Pound Shop Bargains

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Last week I watched a brilliant programme on BBC One - Pound Shop Wars (find it on iPlayer here). I've been a fan of pound shops for many years so it was fascinating to get a sneak peek behind the scenes and see how things work.

While watching, I tweeted my love for pound shops and received a wave of replies asking how I ever found anything decent in pound shops. After reading these tweets and speaking to some of my friends, it seems many people are totally unaware of just how good the stock in pound shops can be. So I thought I'd put together a quick post on my favourite pound shop bargains and how (and where) to find them.

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Shopping tips
The key to successful pound shop purchasing is focus. Yes, the shops are messy. And busy. And cluttered. There's no visual merchandising (unless you count a Spam tin pyramid, which I don't) and cardboard boxes are often used over shelving. But the goods sold in pound shops aren't fake, or damaged, or ready to give you a bout of food poisoning. So don't be a snob - just focus on the bargains.

There are three main pound shop chains - Poundland, a Midlands company which was taken over by a US mega brand and has the most stores across the UK, Pound World, which is Yorkshire-based but growing fast, and 99p Stores, which I have a hard time taking seriously because their logo is written in Comic Sans. Here are some quick tips:
  • Head for the bigger stores - if you can. City centre shops have a wider range of products and more stock, so there's a better chance of bagging a bargain. But don't discount the smaller stores - fewer shoppers can mean more left over. 
  • Avoid Saturdays - it's always more difficult to shop when the place is packed. I love lunchtime visits and Sunday mornings for optimum space and tidier displays.
  • Hit up all three - the three main chains do often carry the same stock but it's definitely worth checking them all if you're searching for something particular, or if your first visit was less than impressive.
  • Look out for brands - I am constantly amazed by the array of top branded products sold in pound shops. From Revlon to Stilla and Coca Cola to Cadbury's, there are plenty of genuine, quality names to be found.
  • ... And look out for non-brands, too. Particularly in the essential beauty category, where I've picked up non-branded Bio Oil, Petroleum Jelly and E45 cream.
  • Go back often - I try to pop in to my favourite Poundland (at Crown Point, Leeds) and Pound World (off Kirkstall Road, Leeds) every couple of weeks to see what's new. There's a high turnover of stock and things come in and sell out all the time, so it's worth becoming a regular!
  • Don't buy for the sake of it. I really struggle with this one, but there's no point spending £1 on TV remote control caddy if you won't use it... even if it is Sony and originally cost £30. Don't clutter your house with useless pound shop purchases!
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Best buys
Walking into a pound shop can be completely overwhelming, but there are certain areas that hold more bargains than others. Here are my favourite finds...
  • Beauty. Stila makeup pan, Batise mini dry shampoo, cute nail art kits, Brylcreem (I used to buy 10 pots a visit for Rob), hen do party bag fillers.
  • Household. Flash surface wipes, Febreeze, Glade plug-ins, Mr Muscle drain unblocker (this stuff costs nearly £5 in the supermarket!), branded pet food, pretty baking accessories.
  • Party. Stick-on moustaches, feather boas, gift bags, wrapping paper, bunting, plastic cups, sky lanterns, party poppers (I could go on and on with this category).
  • Office. Padded envelopes, mail bags, Sellotape, Blu Tac, stationary kits, box files, sticky labels.
  • DIY. Lightbulbs, screws, batteries, gardening gear (if you're that way inclined), tools, things for the car (bought with the best intentions but never used, if you're like me).
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Do you shop in pound shops? Share your bargain hunting tips and best buys below!

55 comments:

  1. Great idea for a post! I never venture into the pound shops but I might start doing now!!!

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  2. I saw that show as well and I never realised how good some of their actually is! I will definitely be having a look in my locals!

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  3. "99p Stores, which I have a hard time taking seriously because their logo is written in Comic Sans."

    You are a woman after my own heart.

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  4. I loved that documentary. It was quite funny as well, especially the pound world man's mum. I love the pound shops, they are especially great if you love a bit of tackyness or for jokey presents too. I buy the gold swirly 'baroque' style frames they always have in 99p stores and spray paint them in a nicer colour for a more chic look. I would say that on things like shampoo I check the mls on the bottle because sometimes they are much smaller than a standard bottle are arn't actually any cheaper.

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  5. Hi, sorry to be a geek and a pedant but Poundland is actually a UK company, from the midlands. It is now owned by an American private equity firm though. I know this because my sister works there, I am always amazed by the things she brings home with her! She recently got a Cath Kidston phone cover, I had paid £25 for a similar one! I think the key is to visit often as the stock is constantly changing, and don't be put off by one disappointing visit. I get so many essentials from there - I mean, what is the point in paying more for stuff like toilet cleaner?! I love pound shops.

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    1. Ooohhh, thanks for the correction! I'll update the post. Cath Kidston phone cover sounds AMAZING! Will keep a look out for that.

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  6. I got some amazing glitter nail polish there and they sell some amazingly bad pop cd's from the early 2000's too. You can get 4 pints of milk for £1 and it's always my first port of call if I'm having a party and need straws and cups x

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  7. I definitely need better pound stores where I live. All we have is a Poundstretcher and a Home bargains, and they're both a bit rubbish! xo

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  8. I also saw that show. I've been a fan of pound shops for a long time. I was one of the lucky ones (or so I thought) to get my mitts on the stilla foundation. I later read that Stilla had stopped making that particular foundation over 8 years ago!! I've noticed a lot of collection 2000 products recently now that they have rebranded themselves and are now known as collection.

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    1. Was the foundation still ok to use? I didn't ever see it but that would put me off!

      Yes, rebranding is great for pound shop stock! :)

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  9. I love pound shops, they were a massive staple for everything when I was a student - food, fancy dress, home stuff...

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  10. Oh my goodness: "99p Stores, which I have a hard time taking seriously because their logo is written in Comic Sans." You spoke my MIND. I think that every time I see their stores!

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  11. Well worth a browse, I say. We got two bedside lights from Poundstretcher and I'm still amazed how good they look xo

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  12. I love pound shops! You can find some great little treasures in them! I also like the Disount Uk stores, a new one has just recently opened in my town and they are owned by poundworld too.
    Vanessa
    x
    http://nessi1988.blogspot.co.uk/

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  13. Poundland tends to be the better store. There's one on my way to the office I freelance at once a week and I always pop in for treats for us, whether it's Cadbury's fingers, mince pies (it's not too early, right?) or a big 500g box of Halloween Haribo, you get some great deals.

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  14. I love pound shop(or as they are called here Euro stores) I get loads of great stuff in them. I would stay away from the DIY stuff though as it's really awful quality, the paintbrushes and rollers fall apart.
    I posted about some great eurostore finds a while back
    http://www.nicedaydesigns.org/2012/07/beating-recession-one-shopping-trip-at.html

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    1. Fab post - you got some brill bargains! :)

      Thanks for the tip about the paintbrushers and rollers. Will avoid!

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  15. Love poundland, there's a really nice one just down the road from me.
    I buy all my padded envelopes for eBay selling there, brown paper to pair with cute ribbon for Xmas wrap, 100 typhoo tea bags for £1! And I also got an OPI rainbow connection dupe glitter varnish and a Stila face powder which were my top ever buys!
    Plus they have an epic sweet section!!

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  16. I think you can find good bargains if you are willing to shop around but recently there was another pound shop program made by dispactches on Ch4 (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-119/episode-1) which showed how a lot of the branded stuff was actually cheaper in local supermarkets and how they fool you by change the packaging to make you feel like you are getting a bargain when it's the same in other shops... also be careful with the Stila stuff as on this other show Stila were quoted saying that they had no knowledge of their products being sold in poundland and that the items in question hadn't been made in years

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    1. Hi Anon,

      Thanks very much for this - will definitely check out the Ch4 programme! Sounds interesting. I definitely agree that some of the things you find in pound shops are cheaper elsewhere (Wilkinsons and Poundstretcher are other discount stores that don't sell on the novelty of 'everything's a pound) - it's all about making sensible purchases, things that you need that you KNOW are more expensive elsewhere.

      Some things are a false economy too - Poundland cotton wool pads are awful and not worth 10p, never mind £1.

      Interesting point about the Stila stuff... does the age matter, though? As long as the products are still useable, I don't mind if it's past season stuff.

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    2. Oh yes, it was the dispatches programme where i had heard about the Stilla cosmetics. If i hadn't of seen this programme i would still be using 8 year old foundation on my face. It smells and looks ok and was lovely to use but i have been put of a bit now.

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  17. I always stock up on uhu. The tubes are now smaller than they used to be but still a good deal. l find them good for craft stuff like foam sheets, packs of tissue paper & sticky gems. Comes in v handy as I run art workshops.

    Best buys recently have been pack of 2 Rimmel lip liners, Maybeline nail varnish and a lovely hardback Maurice Sendak biography - I even bought a couple extra for gifts.

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  18. Great post! My nan dragged me into Savers a couple of months ago - I was mortified at first but actually really pleasantly surprised! Good deals on branded hair colour and fake tan ;)

    Sam Muses xx

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  19. I love Pound stores. I visit the ones in Bradford when I visit my folks and do a haul but it is difficult to stop picking up things for the sake of it. Of all things to recommend, they do a mean bargain on cat lit tray liners. 24 for a £1. So much more in the main supermarkets. Gosh - drivel comes out of my mouth some times.

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  20. Totally agree with you, the crown point one is really good. Ive found so many bargains there!

    Becca x

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  21. This is such a good idea for a post, I always get so stressed going in the pound shops, they're always so busy

    x

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  22. I do love pound stores, getting a bargain is ace, especially the sweets. However, I find the whole shopping experience of pound stores a bit depressing and I always leave the shop feeling a bit annoyed, hot and bothered because it's always so busy and you get served by the worst cashiers. I don't think shopping should be like that so I only go for things I need for cheap or sweets for the cinema :)

    J x

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  23. Who would have thought you would find Stila in a pound shop!x

    take a look at my first ever giveaway here
    http://beautifulthings-danielle.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/a-little-giveaway-to-say-big-thankyou.html

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  24. I watched the BBC Pound shop programme and found it really interesting too. I didn't realise there were such good bargins to be found! I'd better get shopping :)

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  25. Really good post! I loved that programme, definitely eye-opening! I love finding bargains in poundland, I'm definitely going to try some of the others though!
    Courtney xxx
    www.overtherainbow-xo.blogspot.com

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  26. such a useful post!! I am off to watch the documentary!! xx

    iampolkadots.blogspot.co.uk

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  27. Pound shops are a bit like TK Maxx, sometimes you go in and it's like a jumble sale full of crap but then sometimes you uncover some amazing treasures. I find pound shops to be good for house essentials that you don't want to pay much for, like cleaning stuff and toilet brushes (y'know, the glam stuff haha). Where I work is FULL of discount shops, B&M and Home Bargains are also good for some finds. Not quite pound shops but still cheap.

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  28. I have to stay away from Poundland recently as I've become a bit addicted to their ginormous Toblerones! The mini ones are £1.50 in Supermarkets, so it's hard not to buy.

    I love pound shops for their novelty buys. All my Halloween decorations were from Poundland, and I've recently picked up some Christmas nail accessories. I agree you need to watch out for some branded items being cheaper elsewhere, but if you're savvy then there's great stuff to be had.

    I love your blog by the way, sorry it took a post on pound shops for me to finally add a comment!

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  29. I love pound stores! There's even a 99p store nearby which is also incredible! It's a pretty big store, so when you advised visiting the bigger stores, I can 100% back you up on that one! x x

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  30. I love a pound shop. I like going in knowing that I can afford anything I like the look of; it's like being a millionaire (probably). The only products I avoid are milk and eggs - at those prices, the farmers who produce them can't be getting a fair price, which worries me.

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  31. I love pound shops, I don't go in them enough though, I should really go more often.
    FASHIONPROJECT
    www.clm-trash.blogspot.com

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  32. Such a good post! I don't think I'll ever understand people who are too snobbish to go into pound shops- they sell the same things as superdrug and boots for less thamn half the price- which means more money to spend on clothes- it's a win win!

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  33. I've had a few good items from Poundland but I find Home Bargains and Quality Save to have the best stuff - I can't resist their 'star buys' sections! Thanks for the tips :)

    http://buzzbeefbeauty.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/favourite-blog-and-turnip-inspiration.html

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  34. Hello Kitty band aids! Amazing xo

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  35. "oooh but I do love a pound shop". THANK YOU for introducing me to this show!

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  36. Might have to watch this programme. I love pound shops for cheap branded sweets and chocolate (definitely a bargain when you can get a huge cadburys bar for a pound) and radox bubble bath x

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  37. I love pound stores for a bargain. Though you are quite right, you have to be careful that you don't end up buying things just because they are a pound!

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  38. I think a lot of people are just too snobby for pound shops (the kind that STILL won't go in Primark) and then there are people who just don't care about saving money. I work with so many people who would rather go to the places they know/whatever is nearest and buy something I know damn sure you could find £££s cheaper somewhere else or online. They just can't be bothered. The only thing I can identify with is not wanting to be in a rammed shop with people bodging you out the way but otherwise I love pound shops! Hannah x
    http://evewantedawardrobe.blogspot.co.uk/

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  39. I am never embarrassed when it comes to looking for a bargain and pound shops have lots of them. The ones who think it's embarrasing walking into pound shops are not aware of what their missing. Thanks for the the tips.

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  40. love this piece and many of your blog posts
    check out our website where we have shared many of your pieces at www.fashionhotspot.co.uk

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  41. This piece has made our top bloggers list for today!

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  42. I am totally with you on this! I love pound shops and have got some fantastic thing including shampoo, nail art crystals, birthday cards, make up remover wipes, halloween goodies!! www.ashlylondon.blogspot.com xxx

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  43. Watch the channel 4 show on it, you will change your opinion. By the way the dry shampoo was a rip off

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  44. Fashion and beauty has a great relation find out more how celebrities maintain her self and looking younger then her original age get complete beauty tips

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  45. Another amazing post! I almost forgot how good pound shops were for beauty bits and branded sweets etc. My nan swears by them for cleaning products!


    Lucy Loves To Blog

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  46. Great post - love pound shops now!

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    http://www.patsandeddie.blogspot.co.uk/

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  47. Hi Jen, amazing post. It looks like we're from the same neck of the woods! I was wondering if you can remember which shop you purchased the stila make up in?
    x

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  48. Those are really informative. I follow some of them. I avoid shopping when the place is packed because if I do it, then I can’t pick a good one.

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