As I was working on my posts about winter walking gear (Part 1 covered bottoms/shoes and Part 2 talked about gear from the waist on up), I started to think about how costly these items can be. I know that the cost of gear can create a barrier for people who want to get or stay active, but there are ways to solve for some of that. I will note, however, that the more technical gear often falls into the category of “you pay for quality”. Sure, you can buy very inexpensive workout gear at large discount chains, but the quality can be lower than that of the products you’d find in your local running store.
To that end, I have five primary recommendations to save some dough:
- Look for sales, especially at or after the end of a season. Technology advances are happening all the time, but last season’s warmer-weather gear will be on the sale/clearance racks in January, giving you good options for lower-cost, high quality products.
- Hit the outlets! Many outlet malls sport multiple stores from companies that offer up gear. Our nearest outlet mall boasts stores from Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, and Reebok–a nice slate of options for active gear. Outlet malls like those run by Premium Outlets often have free “VIP” programs that earn you access to coupons that get you additional discounts on top of the savings you’re already getting by buying direct.
- Check your health insurance plan’s discount program. Many insurers have wellness or discount programs to encourage their members to stay active and healthy. My own health insurer offers a 15% discount at Marathon Sports, so I never pay full price for my sneakers!
- Get AAA – they offer discounts at many stores; for example, I get 20% off at the Reebok and Adidas outlet stores just for being a AAA member. That’s often equally as good as (if not better than) the discount offered in the outlet mall coupon books.
- Don’t be afraid to ask…When at Marathon Sports the other day, I was looking hard at the Saucony Nomad jacket I liked. The only thing that held me back from buying it there was that Amazon had a better price for it. When I hesitated on the purchase, the sales associate asked me why–so I told her about the other price. I showed her the listing on my phone, and she was able to get me a bigger discount on the jacket to get the price down by quite a bit. It didn’t match Amazon’s price, but I was willing to pay the newly negotiated price, chalking up the difference to “I have it now”. [In my mind, this is the “Time Value of Money” concept represented as “Time Value of HAVING GEAR NOW”–often important when timing purchases for specific events.] Some sporting goods chains also price-match or honor each others’ coupons, so check store flyers and ask at the register!
The tricky part about buying online, which can often be the best place to find high quality gear at steeply discounted prices, is that you can’t try it on in advance. If you decide you want to buy online to save money, make sure that the return policy works in your favor. Some items, particularly socks and undergarments, often aren’t returnable once they’ve been washed and/or worn, so best to buy online when you know the item pretty well and don’t need to see the packaging/labeling in great detail.
So, these are my quick tips…anyone else have suggestions for saving money on gear?