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Best (and worst) items to buy at big box stores

The impulse is to buy everything you need in one place at a big box store. That is a mistake. Here are the items to put on and the ones to scratch off your list.

SAN ANTONIO — The impulse is to buy everything in one place, but that will not save you money. Big box stores like Target and Walmart are known for their low prices, but be choosy about what you purchase.

“Everybody who walks into Walmart or Target, they think these are going to be the best prices that I’m getting,” said Andrea Woroch, a smart shopping expert. “They’re going to think they have unbeatable prices, but the reality is, yes, they have some items that really are cheaper, but other things that are priced a little higher.”

Your shopping list should include any store brand items. Here is a trick to save more:

“Use the Target app and always look to see if they have a coupon," Woroch said. If they have coupons, they are usually for Target’s brand because they are trying to push and promote those. If you can hold off on buying those items until the coupon is available, one will eventually become available.”

Add batteries to the list.

“You can buy the bulk package of batteries, usually at the lowest per price unit than if you were going to say a grocery store or drugstore,” said Woroch. “I think you’re going to save about 20 percent.”

Cleaning supplies should also go on the list.

“You can find really amazing prices on cleaning supplies at big box stores, especially if you are not too brand loyal by just seeing which one is on sale at the time,” said Woroch.

Toiletries, too, make the shopping list.

“Really, there’s no better place to go than Walmart for your toiletries,” said Woroch. “Even compared to the dollar store. I find that Walmart’s price are even less and you get more.”

Pick up some groceries like eggs and milk plus:

“The box and canned stuff,” said Woroch. “I might not buy my meats or much of my produce at these stores but I do always stock up on snacks like granola bars or chips, maybe oatmeal, cereal.”

Plus buy any special collection items.

“You want to look at their designer collaborations so you can often times find like fashion designers or even home good designers who collaborate with these big box stores to bring that high end fashion to everyday consumers at more reasonable prices,” said Woroch.

“I often find that the prices of the partnership items are cheaper than the actual original brand,” said Trae Bodge, smart saving expert of TrueTrae. “If you are someone who really wants a new pair of Levi’s, you could go to Walmart and buy the Levi-Walmart partnership and save money.”

Decorative items are also a good buy.

“You can find lots of nice vases and fake flowers and mirrors and things like that, that are decorative, stylish and cool, but also very reasonably priced,” said Bodge.

Scratch furniture off your list.

“The quality doesn’t tend to be there, in my opinion,” said Bodge. “They do tend to look really nice and stylish, but in my experience, they do tend to fall apart sooner rather than is ideal.”

Say no to TVs.

“The deals just aren’t comparable to what I’ve seen at other places like say Best Buy or Amazon,” Bodge said.

Also, pass on electronic accessories like HDMI cables, phone cases and laptop bags.

“You’re better off shopping online,” Woroch said. “Amazon, eBay, those sites really have the better prices for the electronic accessories.”

Avoid gift cards.

“Order gift cards online because they are sites like Gift Card Granny, for instance, that offer discounts on gift cards,” Bodge said. “You should always check to see if you get some savings when you’re purchasing those gift cards rather than buying them at full retail value at your favorite big box store.”

No matter what you decide to buy, use your smartphone and a price comparison app to see if another retailer offers a better price. Then ask for a price match.

“I’ve noticed over the years, since they first launched their price match offering, is that they have kind of refined the list of who they will price match,” said Woroch. “Obviously Target will price match Walmart, Best Buy and Amazon.com, but not necessarily every online website out there. So, you do want to look at the list.”

Consider doing curbside pickup, too. Sometimes stores will offer a coupon for choosing that option.