Deal Diva: What you need to know about store liquidation sales

Updated: Jun. 28, 2017 at 6:17 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Is the store really closing?

Viewers reached out to WMBF News to find out if Gander Mountain is really shutting its doors for good, and if not, why are the signs still up.

As a consumer, there are some tips experts say you should know when shopping liquidation and store closing sales.

Earlier this year, the announcement was made that Gander Mountain's Myrtle Beach location was closing.

Later, the CEO of Camping World, Mark Lemonis, the company that actually bought out Gander Mountain, made another announcement of a list of stores that are not closing. Myrtle Beach was one of them.

So why the confusion? Lemonis said the company is working with several liquidators to purchase what is left of Gander Mountain.

Dr. John D'Ambrosio, president of the Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina, said in this particular case, it's not false advertising because Gander Mountain is going out of business.

"So they're going out of business as Gander Mountain, but they're probably going to open up as some other name. So yeah, that one there is honest advertising," D'Ambrosio said.

According to Lemonis, the liquidators sell off the stores' current inventory to basically get rid of the old to make room for the new merchandise, which will be sold under both a new ownership and name.

On Thursday, an online contest to design a new logo for the company comes to an end. People from all over the U.S. were able to submit their designs, and Lemonis plans to announce the winner soon.

It's retail reality, as more stores are set to close in 2017. There have been reports that dozens of retailers like Sears, Macy's, Children's Place, Finish Line, and others will shut down hundreds of their stores.

But consumers shouldn't be so excited to run out to those "everything must go" sales.

According to Consumer Reports, research often shows that third-party liquidators mark up the prices of merchandise. The bottom line is just because a store is going out of business doesn't mean you're getting the best deal.

Just like any other sale, make sure you do your research.

Watch for gimmicks

D'Ambrosio says false advertising happens quite a bit with store-closing sales.

"There are a lot of going-out-of-business signs that are going up but it doesn't necessarily mean a business is going out of business," he said, adding it's a lure to get customers in the door.

Be alert for signs that read "Going out for business," instead of "Going out of business."

"Going out for business means (they) want more customers in the end, they want more customers," D'Ambrosio said.

A true liquidation sale means the store has filed for bankruptcy.

Check out the return policies

Generally if a customer buys at a store closing sale, rarely can they return a purchase. As of June 2, Gander Mountain will longer accept returns.

It's not equal

Many times it's not the retailer running the liquidation sales, but a third-party company who is administering them. If possible, try to avoid those sales. Third- party liquidators buy inventory to make a profit and can mark up prices on the retailer's sale merchandise.

Look for the manufacturer's warranty

If you're not able to return a product to the retailer, the manufacturer's warranty should apply even if a store closes. Check before you make the purchase.

Shop as often as you can

The good stuff, sells first; that's a given. Some liquidation sales can linger for months. Prices will go lower until it's gone, so stop by the store as often to keep watch on what you really want.

Plastic is better

Avoid paying cash at a liquidation sale. Using a credit card gives you added protection, just in case the store closes before you get your item delivered.

D'Ambrosio says if you ever feel a business or company is misleading in their product or advertising, contact your local Better Business Bureau office.

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