Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Art of Shopping at Joann

So, I recently read this post and it got me thinking about how easy it is to shop at Joann and save a ton on the things we'd buy anyway.

I thought I'd share how I'm able to get a bunch at Joann and not spend a lot of money.

I get a few coupons mailed to me; you can sign up here. I'm signed up, Jason's signed up, and other people get coupons for me, too. I usually am equipped with 4 fliers that always have at least one coupon.

Next step, check the Sunday paper. There is almost always a Joann coupon in the paper just begging to be used. These are usually only good for a week.

Another bonus... Joann takes competitor coupons. Michael's almost always has a coupon in the Sunday paper. It's usually only good for a week and they won't let you use it on fabric (since Michael's doesn't sell that). Sometimes you can even find a Hobby Lobby coupon in there, too.

Sign up for coupons from Hancock. I don't see a mailing list sign-up online. You may have to go into the store and sign up for their preferred customer program. It's just a frequent shopper card.

So, before I even think about going to Joann, I have 3-4 fliers, 2-3 coupons from the Sunday paper, and 1 coupon from Hancock. That's 6-8 coupons!

Next, I plan my trips. For the past few years, I've been planning my projects ahead of time. Lately, I've been planning for my Chicago trip next month and trying to finish up a baby quilt (see this post on March 30, 2010 to see the finished product). I want to make a jewelry roll, a new purse, and a name tag necklace before we leave on April 14th. I needed to have the baby quilt done for the baby shower on March 27th. I've been watching the sales and using my coupons to get all the things I didn't already have. So, how did I do it?
For the quilt:I found the focus fabric for a good price at Walmart in early March. I picked up the rest of the fabric at good sale prices at Joann & Hancock over the next few days. I got the top of the quilt completed before I shopped for the backing, batting, and binding. Turns out I had the binding I ended up with already, so I just needed the batting, and flannel backing. I got both of these items at Joann for 50% off.

For the Chicago projects: After I went through all my supplies, I was able to find the fabric I wanted to use for all the projects and just needed a few zippers and some ribbon. I knew zippers were going to be 50% off at Hancock within the next 2 weeks and I needed to finish the quilt first, so I waited until they were cheaper. So, now that the quilt is done and delivered, I can start on the project for Chicago and have all the supplies I need to complete them.

While I'm working on these projects, I'll start thinking about what I want to make after I'm done with them. I'll then start collecting the appropriate supplies for my next projects while watching sales and using my coupons.

There's two things (that I can think of right now) I try not to use my coupons for.
1. Unless I really need it and I planned poorly, I don't buy thread unless it's 50% off. This happens regularly, so I buy a few spools of the Coats & Clark thread in natural and black because those are the two shades I can use for almost any project. I try to keep a few spools of brown on hand, too since the natural doesn't always work for brown projects.

2. Patterns. I don't buy patterns until they are around $.99 a piece. They go on sale regularly and I always scratch my head when I see people shopping for them at full price.

Note: By patterns I mean only the patterns at Joann. I'm willing to pay a lot more for a pattern at my local shops. I understand the amount of time it takes to put a pattern together. The patterns at my local shops are usually indie crafter patterns and that's something I'd like to support.

I always try to keep a few bags of batting and fiberfill on hand. I like to get those when they're on sale for at least 50% off. I can maximize my items per stop this way. If I can get an item I'll use at a better discount than if I use a coupon for, I do.

So, while the cashiers always look annoyed when I use a coupon on something very small, it's almost always something I need to buy for a project I want to work on, so I'd rather wait and buy my some other notion or tool or whatever with next week's coupon. I'm all for saving that $.75 on a zipper if that's what I'm shopping for and I didn't need anything bigger that week.

I live about 4 minutes from my Joann location and drive by the store nearly every day. It doesn't take much effort for me to stop in for a small item when I know it's on sale and I can get a good deal. I'm aware this system wouldn't work for everyone, but this is how I do it.

Let's recap:
1. Plan your projects.
2. Check your stash first.
3. Make a list of the items you need for each project.
4. Gather your coupons (be sure to use the ones that expire the soonest first).
5. Check the sales flier. Make notes on when to buy certain items and from where to save the most money.
6. Start the shopping.
7. Smile at the fact that you may have to stop into your store a couple times to accomplish it, but with a little bit of planning, you got the best deal possible.

I hope I may have pointed out a few ways to save you money.

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