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?
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