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APP OF THE WEEK: Retailmenot

23 Jan


I’ve been having great fun using the app Retailmenot for about four or five months now.  I stumbled upon looking for printable coupons for online purchases I was making (Vistaprint, Discount Dance, Old Navy, JoAnns.)  While searching once on my phone for coupons I discovered that Retailmenot was also an app for the iPhone.  I don’t know if there is a Retailmenot app for the Android, but you can always print coupons from the web on your home computer.

Retailmenot displays coupons for a variety of retailers, for both online and brick-and-mortar stores.  After downloading the app, I was delighted to discover that when I drive by a mall, my phone alerts me that there are new “coupons for the Boulevard Mall” (or Fashion Show, or Galleria, etc.)

I first used the mobile app at Bath and Body Works, where I saved around $25 on two purchases.  I broke up my purchases into two different sales (which the cashier was fine with) so I could take advantage of two different coupons.

Now, before I buy ANYTHING, I check Retailmenot to see if a coupon exists for a particular retailer.

Retailers with great coupons that may be of interest to readers (those marked with an * are recommended by Sugar!):

Anytime Costumes

Bettie Page Clothing


Chic Star

Costume Craze

Discount Dance Supply*

Dollhouse Bettie



Hancock Fabrics*

Hobby Lobby*



Nancy’s Notions*


Payless Shoesource

Sally Beauty Supply*

Sally Hansen

Spicy Lingerie

Stop Staring

Unique Vintage*

Victoria’s Secret


Weight Watchers

Happy coupon clipping!

❤ Sugar

Kohls PAID ME to “buy” their underwear!

15 Jan

When I was developing my act “Add it Up” last August, I was not only pressed for time (2 weeks) but I was flat broke.  I had to make a costume with everything I already had, including the bra I was actually wearing the minute I decided to create the routine (I literally took it off and started sewing embellishments on it.)

Since I purchase supplies like crystals, sequins, fringe, trim, etc, when I can get it for relatively cheap, I had most everything I needed for the costume.  What I didn’t have was a thong to use as the base for the final costume piece.

I thought about looking at the .99 Store, K-mart, Fallas Paredes, etc., but talked myself out of all of them because I not only didn’t want a poor quality pair of panties, but because I really REALLY didn’t have any money.  I did, however, have $10 in Kohls Cash from a previous purchase.  I figured I could probably find a thong for $10, then I would only have to pay the tax.

Well, I found TWO thongs for $9.99, one in the color I needed (red) and one neutral color.  I figured I would save the neutral pair for a future costume.  I get to the register with my panties, my Kohl’s Cash and $1.00 to pay the tax.  As the cashier rings up my “purchase,” I asked “I just have to pay the tax, right?”  She tells me that no, I did not have to pay the tax, and in fact, she would be giving me a penny back! I was dumbfounded.  To this day, I cannot get over the fact that I was just given two pair of panties and a penny from Kohl’s for having made a previous purchase.

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,


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