If you have been involved in the LEGO hobby for some time you are well aware of how important it is to have a LEGO shopping strategy. LEGO is not cheap, and both the LEGO Company as well as retailers are taking advantage of the popularity of the brand by keeping prices as high as they can. This is an unfortunate occurrence, especially in the current economy. Ultimately the strategy may backfire both for LEGO and retailers, but that is another topic, and whatever they do, we can still develop our own LEGO shopping strategies to get the best deals.
One of the places people often shop for LEGO is Toys’R'Us. It is pretty much the only toy-shop chain left in the USA, and people naturally think of visiting them first when shopping for LEGO or other toys. One thing they are often not aware of however is how much Toys’R'Us jacks up prices on LEGO sets (and probably everything else too). A $5-$10-$20 mark-up from regular retail price is very common.
Worse is when Toys’R'Us advertises sales around holidays. You will see 40% Off and BOGO 50% (Buy-One-Get-One-50%-Off) sales on LEGO advertised on the Toys’R'Us website and at their retail stores. However that 40% or 50% off is NOT what you think it is! In fact you often end up worse then buying the same LEGO set at an Official LEGO Store, or some generic retailer like Wal-Mart. In the following video Jason from BrickShow.com will show you how Toys’R'Us is cooking the numbers and what you really end up with when you bite the hook on a Toys’R'Us LEGO sale.
Eye-opening, isn’t it? The point is that if you want to get LEGO for the best prices, you really have to do your math. LEGO shopping could actually be quite fun if you take finding the best prices as a challenge. And it doesn’t have to be a long and tedious endeavor. Just have the latest LEGO Catalog or visit the Online LEGO Shop to check regular retail prices (I like the Catalog because I can take it with me to the store I’m planning to shop at). Then have a calculator handy to decode all the pricing voodoo retailers use to lure us into buying from them.
Again, the most notorious offender is Toys’R'Us. Other retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart, Barnes & Noble and of course Official LEGO Stores almost always use the regular retail price, and when they have LEGO sales they to be decent, even excellent (like the 50% off regular retail price on some of the best LEGO sets at Wal-Mart last December). They may not sounds as fancy as Toys’R'Us as BOGO smoke-and-mirrors LEGO sales, but you don’t have to do complex calculations just to figure out if you are actually getting a deal.
Also, Jason’s point about the LEGO VIP program is enlightening. If you are close to a LEGO store, or if you shop at the Online LEGO Shop, make sure you take advantage of this program. Especially when you can combine it with LEGO’s free shipping and double VIP point offers (like currently), you can really get an excellent deal as these offers are stackable. I also like Jason’s strategy of going right back to the store and getting a free set with the just acquired VIP points. How is that for an instant saving?
So what do you think? Did you learn something from the video? Have you ever fallen for the Toys’R'Us advertisements? Do you have your own LEGO shopping tips you would like to share? What is your shopping strategy for this holiday season? Feel free to discuss in the comment section below!
You may also like to check out the LEGO Shopping Tips section for more LEGO shopping ideas and strategies or select from the following posts: