Skip to Content

How to Shop Big Lots

This post may contain affiliate links*

A closeout store like Big Lots is not the first thing that springs to mind for, er, fashionable shopping. Or the second. Or twelfth. But let’s change our mindset for just a moment, shall we?

We like to save money. We like the thrill of finding a hot deal. We pride ourselves of being financially savvy. And it helps if you know the definition of a “closeout”—which is actually first-quality, brand name goods at discount prices because the manufacturer needed to get rid of them.

Yes, we know the stores can be, well, kind of gross. But, being the commando budget shoppers we are (and in this economy, we can’t really afford to be any other way), we know that Big Lots (which boasts prices 20-40% under other discount stores, and 70% less than conventional retailers) is worth venturing into, assuming you know the best approach.

How to Shop Big Lots

Big Rewards

Did you know you can shop Big Lots online? Crazy, right? Also, if you are a die-hard Big Lots shopper, make sure to sign up for Big Rewards — the discount chain’s loyalty program. You’ll earn a $5 credit for every three purchases.

Check the weekly ad online

If you don’t relish making the trek when you don’t even know what you’ll find—and don’t want to sign up your overworked inbox up for yet another email list—you can still log on to and view your local weekly ad to plan the deals before you go.

Shop for the Basics

Let’s just say it. Apparel is not Big Lots’ thing. But, if you need some basics — like socks and underwear — you can get packs incredibly cheap, for all members of the family. It might not be the types of undergarments you’d want to shimmy into for, say, your big anniversary night, but for the daily grind? Perfectly acceptable.

Clothing is limited

The clothing is limited to mostly basic tees and leggings, haphazardly displayed on shelves. Discontinued lingerie ($5 bras) and three-packs of panties are available in limited sizes.

You will have more luck (and fun) with accessories. “Famous brand” handbags really seem to actually be no-name bags, but for $12, it doesn’t really matter. We’ve found Crocs ballet flats ($15), slippers for the whole family ($8), Izod flip-flops ($10) and American Apparel scarves ($3). Costume jewelry ($5), watches ($5 and up) and sunglasses ($10), seemed truly disposable, which are great buys, if you’re prone to lose trinkets.

Think beauty

Stylish clothing may just be out of the question at Big Lots but our number one love at this particular store? The beauty section. It’s sooooo not glamorous. It’s usually a mishmash of brands, packages, and cheesy plastic tubs of random items, but we have rarely left without something we couldn’t wait to get to the car to try out.

The caveats: check expiration dates closely. And inspect the items with a critical eye (if that bottle of nail polish looks like it’s been in the warehouse for six years and counting, step away). But dig around, and you’ll find perfectly good beauty items, from tools to make-up to moisturizer and hair products, for a dirt cheap price. Like a Rimmel mascara for 99 cents, value packs of two e.l.f. lipglosses for a buck (and you don’t have to mess with ordering online), Oil of Olay moisturizer for $3.

If you’re the type to try teal eyeliner once and then move onto aubergine, then you’ll have blast in the cosmetics aisles. Tons of brand names (Almay, ELF, Maybelline and Revlon) discounted to well below Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price. You might even come across your favorite shade of discontinued CoverGirl Continuous Color for $1.50. There are tons of bath products (puffs for $1, soaps for $2) and hair tools (Conair dryers and flat irons for $19).

Again, check the expiration dates to make sure the cosmetics are still safe to use.

Style for your living room

Many folks don’t seem to be aware that many Big Lots stock furniture—and not just the pressed “wood” do-it-yourself dorm-tastic bookshelf variety. We’re talking sofas, kitchen tables, bedroom sets, mattresses. This is not the stuff you’ll want to hand down as family heirlooms mind you, but pretty cheap prices and decent looking stuff if you need to furnish your nest for less. Just to be on the safe side, we’d look for dings, dents, and the like—but for the prices you just might decide it’s worth it anyway.

Embrace change

Big Lots is one of those stores—being a closeout retailer and all—that often doesn’t carry the same thing twice. Which, if you are a creature of habit, is bad; however, on the upside, if you don’t see anything you like this trip, next time there’ll could be something new and great.

The fact of the matter is that while regular retailers stock seasonally, a closeout store like Big Lots changes inventory constantly as they acquire new merchandise, so in this case, change is good.

Bonus for teachers

Big Lots is a great store for teachers anyway, with super cheap supplies (great for back to schoolers too), but there’s also a “Teachers” section online (it’s in the teeny tiny letters right below “Buzz Club”) where they’ll feature teacher-only deals (and if you join the BuzzClub and indicate you’re an educator, you can get the deals sent directly to your inbox).


Tuesday 21st of December 2010

Just scored some great deals on Almost Barefoot sandals from CROC - yep, the real ones. Only $10 bucks and summer is coming again, my friends. Paula Deen cookware for $70, had bought the same set for my siter - $139. Also found some GORGEOUS watered-silk curtains - unbelievable. Had to go to 4 stores to get enough, but it was worth it. Spent only $50 a window on what would have been $150 - I'm a happy camper. Have had good experiences with some food and cosmetic items - just be diligent. The newer stores here are really nice - a much better shopping experience than it has been in the past. I think they are getting there - just hope the prices don't go up.


Saturday 10th of January 2009


i agree with the fantastic shampoo/conditioner selection, and also must point out the great selection of picture frames they sell.  big lots is the first place i go when i need one, and i usually find success.


Wednesday 31st of December 2008


You can pick up great deals on shampoo and stuff from these stores sometimes.  Just don’t ever make the mistake of buying food products there!  The last time I visited one, there was expired baby food and pet food on the shelves, which I brought to an employee’s attention.  On the next visit, the same expired products were still there, so I called the health department, only to be told that store was not licensed to sell food at all!  Be safe.


Thursday 1st of January 2009


I have found some killer jewelry, beauty supplies and even some food products.  Of course, checking the exp date is a must!  BigLots requires the same shopping style as thrift stores and otehr discount stores—patience and digging through bins.

Thrift For The Good Find

Tuesday 30th of December 2008


I definitely agree! You need to always make sure to keep and open mind when going to such an “outside of the box” store for fashion and beauty. Places like Biglots always have great deals, you just need the time and patience to find them! I look at shopping at places like that compared to shopping at thrift stores. They are at times “gross” and “unorganized” BUT if you go in with an open mind and allow yourself enough time to not feel too rushed to search the racks, you can definitely find some gems! Take a look at my image for example—it was a vintage thrift find that I reconstructed into a beautiful new piece and artist, Nikki Berna worked her magic to give the dress some flare!

Comments are closed.