Hunting for Deals at C-Mart

Sometimes shopping makes us into some of the best hunters. We go into stores that require us to search for that good deal or that must-have item. We walk away victorious, having slain our cherished find. That was my recent experience at C-Mart, a large discount store in Landover and Joppatowne.

The 120,000-square-foot store in Landover, which has a bird's eye view of FedExField, has furniture, clothing, books, kitchen gear, towels, sheets, shoes, beauty products and rugs. So at first glance, I had that sinking feeling that I would never find anything in this large warehouse. But I put on my camouflage and took out my duck whistle, knowing I would find something because of the weekly e-mails the store sends out advertising its huge discounts.

I immediately hit the large furniture section, which included everything from couches and lounge chairs to beds and dressers, made by well-known furniture makers like Magnussen, Marge Carson and Thomas O'Brien. Some of the items looked like they'd been through a lot of handling but Brad Bondroff, president of C-Mart, promised, "everything we have is brand new." Most items had price tags from the original stores or manufacturers, with C-Mart's tag on top, allowing shoppers to see the big discounts they were getting. I saw a white, distressed round table and four chairs for about $1,600, down from the original price of $4,300. I also liked a 40- by 50-inch framed mirror for $150, down from an original price of $400. A homestead chest with five drawers also caught my eye for $727, down from $2,140. The only drawback is you can't order different colors or sizes. What you see is what you get.

And then I explored the men's, women's and children's clothing. I saw tags from Prada, Betsey Johnson, 7 For All Mankind and Dolce&Gabbana. The children's clothing section also featured some pricier brands like Petit Bateau and Lily Pulitzer. There was a men's leather Kenneth Cole barn coat for $89, down from its original price of $180. There were Nine West purses for $11 and 7 For All Mankind jeans for under $100. Children's Stride Rite shoes, which can sell for more than $50, were on the racks for $15.

The store also had beautiful hardcover coffee table books on everything from the Civil War to Frank Lloyd Wright houses, as well as popular bestsellers. Most of them ranged between $5 and $15. I picked up two home decorating books for around $5 each that were selling on Amazon.com for about $15. Some looked a little haggard but you can often find some copies toward the bottom of the pile that may work as gifts.

And then I hit the beauty products, which were the kind you can normally find only in hair salons. After much hunting through a hodgepodge of bottles and jars, I found some Graham Webb shampoo, conditioner and hair gel -- that I usually get for around $20 a bottle -- for $8 each.

Anyone who's in the market for a bed might check out the store's mattress sale starting today. The store is buying 47 trailers loaded with brand-new, name-brand mattresses. Bondroff would not reveal the mattresses' origins, except to say they were coming from one of the biggest mattress retailers on the East Coast. The prices range from $425 for California king sets to $95 for twins. "We never had this opportunity to buy this many mattresses," Bondroff says. "Typically they fly out of here."

Much of the merchandise comes from relationships C-Mart has established with retailers like Bloomingdale's that sell sample sale merchandise to the discounter. C-Mart also buys salvage merchandise, which are goods sold by retailers going through an insurance loss. C-Mart recently bought inventory from a Beverly Hills clothing boutique that was affected by a fire and had to sell all of its salvageable merchandise to its insurance company, which then sold it to C-Mart.

The store is now planning to launch its Web store in February, featuring all of its merchandise, to online shoppers. "We want to grow but want to make sure it's well tied into our e-commerce model," Bondroff told me.

Have you ever been to C-Mart? What have you found there?

By Tania Anderson |  January 17, 2008; 3:00 AM ET General Interest
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Have you ever been to C-Mart? What have you found there?

Yes and mostly garbage! Only ever been to the one in Joppatowne.

If you enjoy hunting through piles and piles of random stuff, C-Mart is the store for you. Think TJ Maxx or Marshalls multiplied by 50. In the "pant's" section, you will find 25 pairs of womens pants on a rack. They will be every color of the rainbow and in every size imaginable- not 5 pairs of black pants in descending sizes and then 6 pairs of khaki pants in descending sizes. Literally 25 jumbled pairs of randomness! Homewares are even worse. Sheets are all in a big pile and are not in groups acording to size or color. Now there are some nice Ralph Lauren sheets for a great price, but you might need to buy them in orange stripes!

So if you enjoy true bargain hunting or seriously have the time and energy to scavenge, you'll find some good deals and C-Mart might be for you. But it is not for me. I need organization and neatness in a store.

Posted by: LBH219 | January 17, 2008 7:58 AM

It definately was not the shopping place for me. I went to the one in Landover and found a whole lot of junk. A lot of their clothing was torn or stained and the store was just really, really messy.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2008 8:20 AM

Has anybody seen or purchased the mattresses at C-Mart? They seem like a good deal.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2008 8:27 AM

I enjoy hunting as much as the next gal, but the one time I shopped at C Mart was a disaster. There was a 30 minute wait to view Juicy Couture handbags kept behind a secure counter and the process to actually buy one took another 15 minutes at the checkout counter. There was a lot clothing but it was all mediocre and difficult to go through. I would not go there again.

Posted by: djb | January 17, 2008 8:31 AM

I bought a Sealy full size mattress at Landover for

Posted by: socrmom44 | January 17, 2008 8:35 AM

We've had a lot of luck in the Landover store. Yes, you have to be patient and have a little time, but the savings are incredible when you find the right items. We bought a King Koil queen size mattress and frame for $200 at the last mattress sale. Our guests have commented on how comfortable it is. We would have spent at least $400 on a much less comfortable mattress elsewhere. We've also found an amazing mirror and a few other items. It's usually hit or miss but usually their items are high quality and steeply discounted.

Posted by: DC | January 17, 2008 9:36 AM

I went to the landover store and every clothing item I was interested in was torn, smelled of smoke, or was irreparably dirty. The furniture seemed like it would be the best deal, but everything else was awful.

Posted by: alexva | January 17, 2008 11:00 AM

I went to C-Mart a week or so after the grand opening and found 2 Betsy Johnson dresses in my size, under $50 each. I also found a cute wrap dress for $20 from Forever 21 I think. I haven't been back since, but it was well worth the trip.

Posted by: Amanda | January 17, 2008 11:07 AM

I have been to C-mart store several times in Joppatown. Each time left empty handed and wondered what all the hype was about this store. The furniture looked second hand and the clothes looked like they came from a thrift store.

Posted by: Theresa | January 17, 2008 1:07 PM

What a junk store. I, my wife and daughter went. I love a bargain as much as the next guy but I won't purposely buy junk. My wife didn't buy anything either. My daughter was the only person who found some clothing she liked but it was ragtag to me. The books were third rate and one could do better at Borders or Barnes and Noble. The furniture was all overpriced and the lamps and other fixtures were just weird and unbought merchandise from other stores that was marked up to mark down!

We went once and won't be going back except to get that "weird" feeling again of "slumming".

Posted by: oakland1000 | January 17, 2008 1:10 PM

Ms. Anderson is kidding, right? Let's talk about the furniture--incredibly beat-up pieces with "original" prices that defy reason. I don't think I saw a single wood furniture item that wasn't damaged. The list prices are an insult to our intelligence. Even the sale prices seemed outrageous, even more so in view of the condition of the furniture. I left wondering how on earth they stayed in business and who in the world they could scam with these apparent discounts. I can't imagine going back. Ms. Anderson and I must be living in parallel universes; otherwise this review makes no sense.

Posted by: PLR | January 17, 2008 2:26 PM

You must have gone on an off day! I've had really good luck there.

Posted by: leikster257 | January 17, 2008 2:31 PM

It's only worth going to C-Mart for clothes if you are a size 2 or really like glitter. Most of the furniture is over-sized for McMansions and the nicks and dents are regularly visible. They actually had edible items by the register! Who wants to eat 2 year old jellybeans?!

Posted by: DMJ | January 17, 2008 2:53 PM

It's hit or miss, as with most discount stores. I found a fantastic pair of designer $150 pants for $50. They're my favorites. I haven't had a chance to go back, but I've been meaning to.

Posted by: Din | January 17, 2008 2:57 PM

I stop by the Landover store regularly on my lunch hour, since it's near my office. I've done well when I go on the first or second day of a new promotion. After that, the stuff is too picked-over for my tastes. I agree with the comments about the clothing. With the exception of a gorgeous silk La Perla nightie for $24, I've never found clothing worth buying. There are great bargains, though, in the home accessories that line the side of the store. Get on their mailing list & check out stuff when it's just been brought out.

Posted by: Donna | January 17, 2008 3:42 PM

we went just after they'd gotten in a big shipment of drug store items. everything was half off -- cascade tide, tampons, magic erasers and other cleanin supplies. prices were excellent, i was just sad we weren't there when the truck was unloaded!

Posted by: dc | January 17, 2008 4:52 PM

Stores like C-Mart are good for people with time and patience. I agree that there are some pretty beat up pieces of furniture in the store, which I mention in the blog. But I also saw some fine looking pieces that didn't have the bumps and bruises that people have mentioned. There are probably better days to shop there than others. Being a big discount warehouse probably means that merchandise gets handled a little differently or may arrive at the store in bad shape. Sign up for their e-mails to find out when they get new shipments and time your visit soon after those shipment arrivals. With any purchase, examine it, test it, turn it upside down. You have to be a savvy shopper at C-Mart. And I personally like that. It's definitely not for everyone.

Posted by: Tania Anderson | January 17, 2008 5:55 PM

I bought a Sealy mattress and no name boxspring for $195 and I also found a gorgeous and HUGE 2-piece Magnussen armoire for $650 at Landover; the price listed on the internet was $1949. I've also found designer shoes in my size at Joppatowne stores for $5 during the warehouse sale. I'm closing on my first home soon and casing both places for furniture bargains. Even the delivery service was professional and reasonably priced.

Posted by: yw | January 17, 2008 7:20 PM

I bought 45 pair of shoes for $5.00 each last October when they had a wareshouse clearance... Im talking about Marc Jacobs, Prada, Miu Miu, Bottega Veneta, Delman, and a fanstastic pair of Christian Lacroix... for only $5.00 each!!! They are overpriced, are not flexible with the prices (im not going to pay $300.00 for a stained blouse..)

Posted by: ImeldaII | January 19, 2008 8:58 PM

I find better stuff at Daffy's (which closed their Woodbridge store and I'm still ticked off about that) as well as A.J. Wright (which rocks my world).

Posted by: Meh in Laurel | January 24, 2008 10:58 AM

I have never heard of AJ Wright, so I looked it up. There is one within ten miles of my house, but it appears to be the same as Marshalls and TJMaxx. With discount shopping you have to have a flexible gameplan, time, and a good idea of what you might pay otherwise. We were in the market for a new bed -- our queen sized bed wasn't big enough to include us, the kids, the dog. We had priced out beds we liked, mattresses, etc., so we knew approximately what we might have to spend to get a new one. We also agreed upon a range of styles we would be happy with (although since we are snoring roughly seconds after our heads hit the pillows we aren't too particular at this point in our lives. Maybe when we get to read in bed again we will be, but that is a long time from now.) We ended up paying about 70% less than what we had figured out was reasonable retail (after a sale and coupon!). That savings equaled about two weeks of income for me, after taxes. But I wouldn't go there for clothes.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2008 11:16 AM

I purchased one of their vanities. The original ticket had a price tag of around $2700.00, so I looked it up. It's true that was the original retail price. But with some more searching I finally found it for only $1800.00, almost a thousand less. But at C-Mart we only paid slightly over $700 and it is in excellent condition and beautiful.

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Posted by: Kimberly | April 6, 2008 5:45 AM

C Mart is closing down which will be a shame as I have loved shopping there for many years.
I have to admit I have bought many bargains over the years.
The best bargains were last Monday when the menswear was 90% off everything yes 90%.I found some fabulous Italian clothes and cashmere sweaters for $6
D/G jacket that was $1,800 for $62.00,but the place was a zoo.I waited in line for 1 and a half hours to pay for my bargains.It was well worth the wait.
I have to say it was the best bargain day of my entire life.
I will miss the deals but most of all I will miss some of the staff that have been there for years.

Posted by: Paul | October 7, 2008 5:47 PM

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