Archive | December, 2012

Getting A Big Bang for Your Burlesque Buck at Joann Part 2: SALES and PROMOTIONS

24 Dec

Another key to getting more for your dollar at Joann is to monitor the sales.  Assuming you have already signed up for the mailing list AND are receiving the circulars via mail or from the newspaper, you have all the information you need at your fingertips.  Here are some general things I look for:

  • 50% off notions wall*:  The notions wall goes on sale around four times per year.  Once this past year, it was 60% OFF!  NEVER pay full price for notions.  (Notions are the extra tools and supplies you need to make a project, like velcro, snap tape, magnetic bra hooks, elastic, needles, pins, etc.)  During this promotion, I stock up on things I use all the time.  50% off coupons are issued FAR less than the 40% off coupons, and if you are buying several yards of snap tape (at $9.99/yard), the savings is substantial.
  • 50% off trims:  This is a rare sale.  If you find it, take advantage of it, ESPECIALLY if you have a % off total purchase coupon or discount card.  The trims just do not get any cheaper.
  • 50% off red lined (clearance) fabric*: NEVER pay the sticker price for this fabric, unless you are desperate.  A half off sale is always coming up, you just have to ask.
  • 50% off bridal or “Casa” collections*: NEVER pay retail price for these fabrics, either.  If you don’t already have a coupon to use, WAIT for the sale.  Casa Collection (the fancier fabrics like chiffon, organza, taffeta, satin, etc.) go on sale every 4-6 weeks.
  • $1.00 cone thread*: This is a rather rare sale, as well.  When you spot it, buy one cone of every color!  At a minimum, purchase black and white.  The quality of this thread is not as high as say the Coats & Clarks or Gutterman brands, but for costuming, it works just fine.
  • Pattern sales**:  In every circular, there is some kind of sale on sewing patterns.  Since I am not a gifted pattern drafter, I simply make alterations to existing patterns.  Frequently, the common pattern brands (Simplicity, Butterick and McCall’s) will go on sale for .99 each.  There is usually a limit on the number of patterns you can purchase (usually 10,) but I think I’ve only reached that limit one time.  Never pay more than $3.99 for a Vogue pattern, they will always be on sale eventually.
  • Muslin and Interfacing by the bolt*:  As you become a more experienced seamstress, you will find the value in always having muslin and interfacing on hand.  When I can find bolts of these for $9.99-19.99, I snag at least one of them, especially if I am nearing the end of my current bolt.
  • 50% off cutting tools*:  You should own a good pair of fabric shears, at a minimum.  You may also want to invest in a rotary cutter, pinking shears and pair of embroidery scissors, as well.  NEVER pay full price for these at Joann.  They go on sale frequently, and unless you have a half off coupon, wait for the sale.  You may have to purchase a couple of pair until you find the perfect pair (I use Fiskars, which are NOT the “Cadillac” of the fabric shears world, but I like them best.)  If you cut sequined trim or fabric frequently, you will probably want a seperate pair of fabric shears for that, as cutting sequins dulls the blades significantly.

*If you are fortunate enough to hold a VIP Discount Card, a Teacher Rewards card, Student Discount card or %off total purchase coupon, these discounts are taken AFTER the sale price!  For example, if you purchase a $10 notion during a half off sale, your Student Dicsount card will get you an additional 10% off the sale price: $10x.5=$5X.9=$4.50!  Every little discount helps, especially if you are purchasing enough materials to make an elaborate costume.

**Coupons don’t work on patterns, but your discount cards will.  So if you have the Student Discount card, it will take ten additional cents off each .99 pattern.

If there is something you really want or particularly need, ask the employees if the item will be going on sale in the future.  This is something they probably won’t know off hand, but they can LOOK IT UP.  If it is going on sale soon, their hand held computers will tell them WHEN.  Often, while I am chatting up the person who is cutting my fabric, I will ask them to check an item or two for me.  As long as the line isn’t long, they are more than happy to oblige.  This is where some planning comes in handy.  If you are a common procrastinator (like me) this doesn’t always work in my favor, which is why I am a whiz at utilizing the coupons.

What happens if an sale item you want is not available in the size or color you want/need?  

  • First, have an employee check the computer for back stock.  Joann has a rather large backroom, and new merchandise arrives by truck weekly.  Their computers and hand held devices will let them know how many items/yards/etc. are physically IN the store.
  • Buy the incorrect size or color and exchange it at another store! I learned this trick from a Joann store manager!  Of course this only works in larger cities with multiple Joann stores, and only if you are willing to drive between stores.  I usually only use this trick on sewing patterns, but it’s worth it, as it’s usually a difference of $9 or more.
  • Ask if you can have the item transferred from one store to another.  While stock checks (when one store calls another inquiring on availability) are VERY unreliable, (often employees say they physically look, but don’t) if a store DOES in fact have the item, sometimes the store manager will bring it over for you if they are going to be at the other store, anyway.  This is another method in which being friendly with the store staff helps tremendously.

ASK FOR A DISCOUNT.  I know this sounds ridiculous.  When I was earning my undergraduate degree (over 20 years ago) I learned in my Retail Management class that Wal-Mart will frequently give you a discount if you ask (I couldn’t believe it, and have never tried at Wal-Mart in all these years, and I seriously doubt they do it now that Sam Walton is dead.)  I have, however, applied this to Joann.  Since I am friendly with my local store manager(s), I will sometimes ask for a discount, under certain circumstances.  For example:

  1. if it is for my students, I’ll ask for them to give me the most recent sale price, if the item is not currently on sale.  (Use the “it’s for my students” line if you are teaching a class you need supplies for….I wouldn’t lie!)  However, you could also let them know this is for a performance, that you can give them credit on a website, in an advertisement, etc.  Offer to bring them a photo of the completed item (they LOVE that!)  Times are tough, and the store still has to do more volume this year than last year.  Frequently the store managers will do what they can to make additional sales.  Of course, you have to be willing to walk away.  It is in those times, when I’ve practically put the item back on the shelf, that the manager relented and gave me a discount.
  2. if a sale is coming up that I will not be around for (out of town, for example) I will ask them to sell it to me for the sale price EARLY (this worked for me most recently the few days before Black Friday) or even LATER.
  3. if I am purchasing items in bulk, I will ask for a cheaper price.  It doesn’t always work, but if you don’t ask, you won’t know.
  4. if an item is damaged, I will always insist on a lower price.  Frequently they will take half off (sometimes more!)  They prefer to make a little money off of it, because if they can’t sell it, they have to “damage it out,” which basically means it gets thrown away, and they make nothing.

Things I don’t generally find on sale, and must save my coupons for:  zippers, bias tapes and piping.  If you ever see a sale on these, LET ME KNOW!!!

I have shared every hint I have used to save money at Joann.  As I discover more (I can’t imagine that I will, but I’m always optimistic!) I will post them here.  Please share your money saving techniques with me via comments or email.  If you have problems, concerns, or one of my suggestions does not work, let me know and I will check into it for you!

At your service,


Getting A Big Bang for Your Burlesque Buck at Joann Part 1: DISCOUNTS & COUPONS

22 Dec

Since becoming a sewing instructor in 2001, I’ve had to do my fair share of shopping both on internet and in brick-and-mortar stores for equipment and supplies.  And because I’m a procrastinator at heart, relying on my local Joann store is key to my survival.  Not only have I shopped there for 12+ years, but I worked there for a few short months a couple of years ago to help the store manager out.  In that time, I’ve learned several ways to save at Joann.  In this inaugural blog,  I will outline every way I know of to obtain a discount at Joann.

1. Take advantage of the following programs, if you are eligible:

  • Student Discount: If you are in high school or college, you can receive 10% off your total purchase.*
  • VIP Program: Are you a member of a sewing or crafting organization like the Costume Society of America or American Sewing Guild?  Are you a re-seller, or do you make products (think MERCHANDISE) for sale?  You can receive 10% off your total purchase.*
  • Teacher Rewards: Early childhood educators, public school teachers and home schoolers can take 15% off their total purchase.*  It doesn’t matter if your purchase is for school/school projects.  They reward you for just being an educator.

*Exclusions apply.  Generally, the discount is taken off EVERYTHING that a coupon WAS NOT used on.  That includes sale items AND clearance/red tags.  For example, if you are purchasing trim that is 50% off, you will receive another discount AFTER the 50% discount is applied.

2. Join the mailing list:

  • Sign up to receive both emails AND coupons in the mail.
  • Have coupons mailed to multiple addresses (i.e. both home AND work.)

3. Print coupons off the official Joann website.

5. Download the Joann app for your smartphone.

6. Text BEADS to 56266 (JOANN) to receive a money-saving coupon as well as future offers.

7. Save coupons from competitors like:

8. Download competitor apps to your smartphone.

9. Have friends and neighbors who take the newspaper save the print ads for Joann and Michael’s for you.  I simply put a post on our internet board requesting my co-workers save these for me.  They just put them in my mailbox.

10. I like to use Retailmenot.  Search for printable coupons for Joann or competitors.  There is also a Retailmenot app for your smartphone.

11. Joann has a publication for purchase (it’s less than $5) at the cutting, customer service and checkout counters in which the back cover is full of 40% and 50% off coupons.  If you are purchasing a substantial amount of materials or spending a significant amount of money, the price of the publication can easily be justified.

And finally:

The key to saving, after you have followed ALL of the above steps:

You can use MULTIPLE Joann coupons on a single transaction, AS LONG AS ALL THE COUPONS HAVE A DIFFERENT NUMBER.

You can also use multiple competitor coupons in a single transaction, one per competitor.


The cashier doesn’t necessarily want you to know this, because it can create work for him/her.  However, if I am potentially spending $300 and can take $120-$150 off of that, this DIY diva is going to do just that, and YOU SHOULD, TOO.

Just be sweet as pie.  Chat up the employees at the cutting counter, showing them the coupons you have and inquire if they will work for the items you are purchasing.  Offer to let people with smaller/quicker transactions go before you.  Seek out a manager (to whom you have already become acquainted with) to “assist” in the transaction.

Good luck using your newly acquired hustling skills.  Let me know how these tips worked for you in the comments!

Sweet Shopping,


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