Traditionally (at least in the USA), today is the first day of the holiday shopping season, which of course also includes LEGO shopping. A lot of LEGO fans will be buying LEGO for their kids, relatives and friends, but this is also a great time to pick up LEGO sets you have been eyeing for yourself, as local retailers and online shops are vying to offer the best deals. Here I will summarize some of the best places to shop for LEGO, as well as what to look out for in your LEGO shopping mission. 😉
➡ LEGO Stores & Online LEGO Shop: LEGO stores carry the full line of currently available LEGO sets, and if you have one near you, I would definitely recommend checking it out. There will be various promotions until Christmas, so keep an eye out for announcements. Right now LEGO is offering a limited edition holiday set with purchases over $99, and a free Pick-A-Brick box with purchases over $75. These specials are also valid online if you don’t have a LEGO store near you. The added benefit of shopping at the Online LEGO Shop is the largest selection of items, no need to fight the crowds, and free shipping on orders over $99. Sales tend to be kind of luke-warm – around the 10% range – but don’t forget that you also earn VIP points, which definitely makes those deals a lot sweeter! 🙄
➡ Toys’R’Us & Other Toy Shops: Toys’R’Us usually has the best selection of LEGO sets – not counting LEGO stores – and they often carry new releases early, not available anywhere else. The issue with Toys’R’Us and toy-shops in general is that they take advantage of unsuspecting customers by significantly inflating prices. (People who don’t shop for toys very often tend to go to toy-shops rather than generic retail stores as they feel the selection and prices should be better.) Toys’R’Us is especially notorious in this regard. They will advertise all kinds of sales, but with their inflated prices, those so-called sales end up being worse then just shopping at a generic retail store or directly at LEGO. Having said that, the numbers sometimes do work. The key with shopping at Toys’R’Us is knowing the original prices sets should be selling for. Take a calculator and do your math before being swept away in the shopping excitement. Here is an excellent video explaining how Toys’R’Us pricing works: The Myth of Toys’R’Us Deals
➡ Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target & Other Retailers: These are the generic big-box retail stores. They have an excellent LEGO selection, their prices are not inflated, and they often have great deals around the holiday season. One tip I would give is that don’t take the shelf-prices for granted. They often have sales going on which are not yet marked on the shelves, especially around this time of the year when stores are so busy. Take items up to a price-checking station to get the most current price. Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Target often have steep discounts somewhere in the 25-50% off range. Don’t miss them!
➡ Barnes&Noble, Sam’s Club & Other Odd Places: These are some places where you might not think of looking for LEGO, but they are in fact great for finding hidden gems and great discounts. Last year Barnes&Noble blew out all other retailers with their huge selection and incredible deals on LEGO sets before Christmas. (After Christmas Wal-Mart was the best.) You can also check other book-stores as they often have at least some kind of toy-selection, including LEGO. Shopping clubs like Sam’s Club also carries LEGO around the holidays. The selection is usually very small, but you can pick up some good deals occasionally.
➡ Amazon.com: My most favorite place to shop for LEGO in general, and definitely around the holidays, is Amazon.com. Their free shipping over $25 and no tax is a significant saving in itself. In addition their prices are excellent, as they like to undercut everyone else. Always look out for the Eligible for Free Super Saver Shipping icon in the item description. These are items shipped directly by Amazon. (Amazon also has affiliates and shipping by them is often not free.) Besides Amazon having their own dedicated Amazon LEGO Shop, leading up to Christmas Amazon runs what they call Holiday Lightning Deals. These are items with a steep discount, but only available for a few hours. In the Holiday Toy Lightning Deals section you can often find amazing deals on some of the best LEGO sets. They don’t come up every day though, so I would highly recommend that you bookmark this page and check back daily.
➡ Other Online Shops: Toys’R’Us, Target, Wal-Mart, Barnes&Noble, etc. all have online shops as well. During the holidays they usually offer free shipping and the same or larger selection then at their retail locations. Sometimes they also have online-only deals. You can sign up for email alerts to get updates.
➡ Shopping for Retired, Used & Bulk LEGO: If you have your eyes on a retired LEGO set, or just want to pick up some used or bulk LEGO, eBay.com and BrickLink.com are the best place to shop. Always check the seller’s feedback and ask questions before making a purchase. One thing to remember when shopping on eBay and BrickLink is that these are usually small hobby sellers who will need to pack and ship your order in their spare time. Place your order at least two weeks before Christmas to make sure the package arrives on time. You can read more at Shopping for LEGO on eBay and Shopping for LEGO on BrickLink.
And that pretty much sums up where to go LEGO shopping. I know it is a lot of places to keep a tab on, but I thought to give you an overall idea of where to look, and depending on your own location and situation, you can narrow down the list to what works best for you. Personally I almost always shop for LEGO at Amazon, not just because they have excellent prices, no shipping and no tax, but I can also pick up other, non-LEGO items in the same order (throw in some books, a couple of DVDs, some vitamins, or whatever else I need). Also, not having to spend gas and fight the traffic and crowds is a nice bonus. 🙂
Having said that, it is worth to check a LEGO Store (if you are lucky enough to have one near you) or Toys’R’Us to see a LEGO set fully displayed. I have found that no matter how many images I see online, there is nothing like seeing a LEGO set in person. It could actually be a really surprizing experience! Sometimes you may not be interested in a set you see pictures of, but you fall in love with it after seeing it in person. And other times you may like a set from the images, but it turns out to be a disappointment once you see it personally.
Hope this guide helps you a little in your holiday LEGO shopping. If you would like to add your own LEGO shopping tips feel free to share them in the comment section below, along with any great deals you run across between now and Christmas. Happy huntin’! 😀
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