A few years ago, my favorite mascara was discontinued. While this sounds like a minor life problem, it was aggravating — and I know plenty of other women have had the same experience. You end up stockpiling the product whenever you can find it, and then squeezing every last drop out of it.
Recently I discovered the beauty of hunting down a discontinued product online. There are entire websites dedicated to discontinued products. The Vermont Country Store is a well-known catalog and website filled with discontinued toys, candies and other old-timey goods, and sites such as Amazon and eBay occasionally have discontinued gems available from private sellers. I was able to find my mascara in multiple places and stock up. OverstockCosmetics.com and BeautyEncounter.com are two reliable sites filled with hard-to-find and discontinued makeup products.
You also can find discontinued products in stores, and this can lead to serious savings. The stores are often trying to clear their shelves of these products to make way for the next big thing.
Buying discontinued isn’t for every product, though. There are pros and cons, and you should use common sense.
Here are a few common items you can find discontinued, and what you should be aware of:
* Grocery products. These can fall under a few categories: the manufacturer has decided not to make the product any longer, the label is changing, the recipe is changing or it’s a seasonal item.
As long as you keep track of the expiration date, this can be a great opportunity to stock up on nonperishables, such as canned goods, and other products with long shelf lives, such as condiments, for cheap. Grocery stores often keep all of their clearance and discontinued items in one place, and you can usually combine your coupons with the discounted price, increasing the savings.
* Electronics. Electronics are a little tricky. Buying a discontinued piece of equipment, such as a TV or computer, usually means you’re getting a great deal, but there are some risks. It may be difficult to find parts for repairs, and there may be a technical reason the product was discontinued. So always research the product before buying it.
However, if it’s just a case where a new model is coming out and you don’t care if your product is up-to-the-minute new, you’re probably getting a bargain.
* Beauty products. Beauty products are also tricky. While it’s easy to get addicted to certain products, you don’t want to buy something that’s been sitting around too long.
Search for the product as soon as you know it’s discontinued so you can stock up and store it in a cool, dry place. If you’re buying it from a website, you never know how it’s been stored. Makeup has a shelf life just like food, so you don’t want to invest in something that’s no good. Also, only buy products that are still in the original, factory-sealed packaging.
* Paper and plastic goods. These are the safest product to invest in. A company may be changing the design or packaging of the product, but the product itself should still be in great condition for years.
Companies such as Rubbermaid are always coming out with new styles and colors of their products and discontinuing the previous line, so finding these products on clearance in a store can lead to big savings on a brand-name product.
Do you have any tips for finding your favorite discontinued items or finding deals on other discontinued products? Share them!