Insider Shopping Hacks From 6 Former Retail Employees

Sales used to be the crème de la crème for shoppers. You had access to items you were eyeing for months while treating your wallet to a little less heartbreak. But these days, a sale isn't enough. To be a smart shopper in the modern age, you need to be a discount code extraordinaire and have the inside scoop on all the hush-hush deals — we're talking an early heads-up on those mega, once-a-year blowouts (save to cart the night before!), and a knowledge of stores that secretly offer a gift with purchase, or that'll give you a discount on clothing with minor damages.

Unfortunately, the only way to extract these kind of insider-y hacks are through, well, insiders themselves. To crack the code on saving the most, we found six former retail employees who were willing to divulge a secret or two. In the intense race that is budget shopping, no tip is too small. Click on to learn how to get the most bang for your buck at places like J.Crew, Urban Outfitters, and more.
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Photo: Courtesy of Urban Outfitters.
Urban Outfitters
"I used to work at Urban Outfitters in college, and they'll pretty much give you 10% off for any imperfection: a snag, a deodorant mark, even a loose string. It's at the manager's discretion and the official handbook tells employees to always say yes."
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Photo: Courtesy of Uniqlo.
"The staff has a culture of writing mini thank you cards to one another. The company actually sets quotas for how many you should write per week to show gratitude to your teammates, but if you ask anyone who works there, the [employees] will probably also give you a blank one. They're very cute!"
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Photo: Courtesy of Madewell.
"Almost 95% of the time, items are marked down online but not in stores, and the registers wouldn't pick up the discounted prices. We would have to price adjust if a customer noticed it was a certain price online and not in-store! Always check out Madewell online first, because it has a policy where it always price adjusts to match online."
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Photo: Courtesy of Brandy Melville.
Brandy Melville
"Go the the store on a Wednesday! In New York City, this is usually when the stores get their inventory, and if any items are found with stains like foundation and lipstick (that can actually be washed off really easily), bring it up to the cashier and you can get 15% off the item."
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Photo: Courtest of J.Crew.
"J.Crew does its markdowns on Thursdays. Always double-check both in-store and online for sale prices, because they are almost never the same and shopping online can save you a ton of money. You should also try to become friends with a J.Crew stylist; they will always let you know when sales are, and most will bend over backwards to find an item for a client. Even if they say an item is sold out online, ask nicely if they can do a store check — there are normally a few items around, but not in the inventory. Plus, they will probably give you free shipping if you order over the phone."
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Photo: Courtesy of Loft.
"If you have a Loft credit card, you'll save 15% off on the first Tuesday of every month. If you really love something, this is an instance where you should definitely wait for it to go on sale. They are almost always having a sale. They also have exclusive things online, so that's a huge secret that not too many people know about!"

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