Nov 14, 2013

Shopping tips for beginner crafters

Those of you who are new to crafting may be easily overwhelmed by the great number of products available to you. Even those of us who have been paper crafting for a while, can still be overwhelmed with all the new products and tools out there.  
I am a frugal shopper and try to get the best deal possible. I also am trying to not 'stash' things up, but try to use what I have before purchasing more. For the more than 13 years that I have been doing this hobby - I have some shopping tips that I want to share that will help you get a good deal & buy what you will use.  Hopefully you will have less frustration and truly get more for your money - especially if you are on a budget.   Check out my video for a quick summary of 5 of these tips - more tips are listed here, so scroll down to get all the 8 tips!


I am guilty of heading straight to the dollar section of most any store - Target, Michael's, and Joann's.  But be careful.  Even though you feel like you are getting a great deal - you are usually getting less in the dollar section.  If you shop in the store and they have a sale - you may actually get more for your money by shopping sale items instead of the dollar section. 
Here's an example.  In the dollar section, there is a pack of gems.  There were 50 gems in the pack for just $1.  Sounds good, right?  But, there was a sale - 30% off scrapbooking items.  There was a pack of 110 gems, regular price of $1.99 on sale to be $1.39.  So if I got 2 of the gems from the dollar section - I would have 100 gems for $2 while shopping the sale, I got 110 gems for $1.39.  Definitely more for less money.


I know not everyone is good at doing math - but we most likely have our smart phones with calculators on them, right?  Use them in the store.  See how much each item in a pack truly is.  This may sway your decision to purchase a pack of 10 vs a pack of 25. 
Here's an example.  A pack of 12 flowers was on sale for $3.49.  If I take $3.49 and divide by 12, that comes out to be $0.29 per flower.  Then there is a pack of 25 flowers on sale for $4.19.  I take the $4.19 and divide by 25, that comes out to be $0.17 per flower.  So, this helps you to see that the larger pack, though appearing to cost more - you are truly getting a better deal with the larger quantity. 


Shop with a purpose.  Have a particular project in mind or have your budget in mind.  Don't enter the store to wander through each isle.  You will most likely get frustrated, buy things you don't need, spend more than you want to, and most likely not use what you purchased.  Not to mention, waste a lot of time wandering.
If you don't have a particular project to work on - don't wander the store to tease yourself - especially if you are a budget.  Create a list of what you think you need.  Then check out what's on sale.  See what may work.  Maybe a sale item will work better than your initial idea.  Look around, but try to stick to your list.


Every manufacturer comes out with new and cute product lines, practically every month.  There are a lot of cute things out there.  But, that does not mean that you need it.  Don't talk yourself into buying something, just because it is cute.  If you didn't even know it existed, then you most likely didn't have it on your list - so it may be best to wait.  Also, the newer items are typically not on sale - so you will more likely be paying more for these items.  If you wait a while, put it on your list for next time - you have a better chance of getting a better deal & finding out if it you have a use for it.


Even though your local craft store has a large supply of products - it doesn't mean they are the only place to get these items.  Named brand products that are specific to scrapbooking or stamping can be found in many stores online and now Target also has increased their hobby isle.  Check them out to see what they have and what their prices are. 
Generic items like adhesive, post its, stickers, etc. can be found in school & office supply stores - sometimes cheaper than the craft store.
I like to check online to see what is new.  I see if they have sales online and then I check if my local craft store has these items.  I check the prices and see if there is a better deal.  Sometimes this means leaving empty handed, but at least I didn't get ripped off paying a higher price. 
Online stores like Simon Says Stamp & Two Peas in a Bucket have great sales and they usually have the newest product lines.  Start there to 'shop' and get pricing.  See what's on their clearance.  You may be surprised how much cheaper and convenient it is to shop online for crafting supplies.


I've heard many ladies chatting among themselves in a store, trying to figure out a tool or product by just reading the packaging.  If you don't know how to use it - DON'T BUY IT!  Do some research first - then go back and make a purchase if you think it is worth while.  The negative to buying something you don't know much about is, you may have to buy many things to go with it in order for the results claimed on the packaging.  Most items needs other products to go with it.  If you don't know this, you could be frustrated, buying a new tool and then not being able to use it.  Or, trying to use it with something else and not getting the desired results.  Then the tool will not be used again most likely, and just end up as part of your stash.  Take some time to do some research on something new first before buying.  Check out You Tube and the manufacturers website - most likely you'll find tutorials and project ideas.  These will help you be better informed if you will be making a smart purchase or just wasting your money.


Michaels and Joanns both have an app for your mobile device.  If you will be a frequent shopping - it would be best to download their apps.  Why?  Well, they have the current sale ads available as well as coupons.  These are handy when the shopping urge arises and you didn't get to clip the coupon or see what's even on sale.  These coupons are typically 40% off or more.  Take a moment - get these apps.


Especially if you are just getting started - you don't want to be stuck with themed items that make you feel limited to use them only for that theme.  Shop for more generic items that can be used in different ways for different projects - not just one theme.  For example, let's say you are working on a Disneyland project.  Instead of buying Mickey shaped stickers or items specific to the theme park, get black cardstock and a circle punch.  Both can be used for more than just making Mickey heads and you most likely will pay less.  Some themed items (especially for Disney) cost more anyway.  Also, instead of buying themed Disneyland paper - which usually gets covered up, why not get some red polka dot designer paper or washi tape.  Something that relates to the theme but not so specific where that is its only use.  Stars, polka dots, glitter, red, white, and black are great Disney inspired products that will have much more uses for you, and will most likely be cheaper since it's not the Disney brand.

These are my main shopping tips for frugal craft shopping. 
Have fun shopping using these tips.  I hope you find it enjoyable and not put a large hole in your wallets.  =)


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