STOP IT. Stop paying too much at your favorite retailer for LEGO sets. I’m not talking about resale listings, knock off bricks, or online auctions. I’m talking about “front line” retailers and local storefronts on new products. Seriously, you don’t have to pay so much.
When we happen upon a great Lego deal, and share it at NerdSteals, it’s often met with a really popular response. We can only imagine that is because these physical blocks of your imagination are so expensive, especially in pop-culture sets.
Yet, because we love these little plastic foot-injurers, we seek any way to get a good price, and when a local retailer has a buy one get one sale, a closeout, or other promotion, we stock up thinking we’ve hit gold. Even setting out to find a bargain, however, you may be misled….Just because a LEGO set is on sale at a particular retailer DOES NOT mean that you are actually saving ANY money. In fact, you may be paying more.
This common mistake is the pitfall of both the casual LEGO buyer, and even the more experienced LEGO collector.
LEGO PRICED LIKE A COMMODITY
The easiest error for any LEGO buyer to make is to trust the original price listed on any given website or store shelf. Most people are familiar with the way that “Commodity Pricing” works in a Supermarket, where an agricultural good doesn’t have a standardized price. We expect that if we go to Market A, a banana may cost more than it would at Market B, and so we grow to be aware of the “normalized” price of that commodity. Whether it be Gasoline, Produce, or Dairy, we know that prices are extremely variable and volatile, so we prepare for that when budgeting a purchase.
Unlike groceries, in general, we tend to think of any sort of manufactured hard good as having a fixed “buy price.” There are exceptions to this like resale boutiques, but I’m speaking specifically of original retailers. Whether MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) or RRP (Recommended Retail Price), we expect when we walk into a store to purchase a video game, a book, or even a pair of sneakers, that the maximum retail price will be identical at all retailers. We expect that if a store lists the original price of a Blu-ray movie as $19.99, and has marked it down to $14.99, that all other stores would have the same “starting price” of $19.99 and we let that inform our decision.
What we’ve found in seeking out great deals on LEGO products is that the MSRP/RRP is very often NOT followed as the “original list” price by both online and Brick & Mortar retailers. Although some stores are more guilty in this behavior than others, we’ve seen almost every “first-run” merchant do this. We’re not out to vilify the stores you shop at, but give you the ammunition to be a more savvy consumer.
WHEN A SALE COSTS YOU MONEY
Here are a few examples of how “sales and promotions” can COST you money at your favorite retailer, if they don’t follow the LEGO RRP. The WORST outcome is that you don’t get either of these and buy the set at an over-inflated price without any discount, thus paying over retail!
- Example One: The “Single Set Discount” – You head over to your favorite retailer, and you see a larger set you can’t wait to get your hands on. It’s listed as
$124.99NOW $99.99 and you think, “SCORE!” That’s 20% off! You run to the register with the box in your clammy hands, and check out before anyone realizes what a bargain you just got!The only problem is that the ORIGINAL Recommended Retail Price from LEGO was actually $99.99. The retailer had artificially inflated the price beyond retail, and discounted that “more expensive than everyone else” price. Even worse? That same set is only $74.99 at a different store across town because they had actually started at the RRP and went down from there. This also happens online.
- Example Two: The “BOGO % Myth” – Especially around holidays, US Stores in particular will launch “Buy One Get One for 40% Off of all LEGO” sales. Using the same set example listed above, which was inflated from $99.99 to $124.99, lets say you buy two of the same sets to give to family members. At Retailer A, you buy one set for $124.99 and get the second set 40% off which takes it down to $74.99. With both purchases together, you’ve spent $199.98….which is the exact same price you’d pay if you went to a retailer charging original RRP WITH NO SALE. You were fooled into thinking you got a deal, when you just paid retail.
PROTECT YOURSELF! GET THE BEST DEAL!
All is not lost! Here at NerdSteals, we’re going to tell you exactly how to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your LEGO purchases.
- After you’ve found a set you’re interested, check what the original RRP was listed at. For “active” sets this is listed right on The Lego Online Store. For sets that are no longer being manufactured, the best resource we’ve found is the amazing pricing guide located at Brickset. Make sure you search by the LEGO Set number (Printed on the front of the box), rather than name, because there are often two identically named sets with different numbers of pieces and difficulty.
- Did the retailer start at RRP?! Awesome! If you see a discount OFF of the RRP, you are getting a great deal! Did the retailer start ABOVE RRP? Time to bust out your calculator to make sure you aren’t just paying retail.
- And as always, it pays to shop around. Use your favorite online shopping comparison tool and enter “LEGO” and the set number to ensure you’re always comparing apples to apples.
You’re now armed with the knowledge of how to protect yourself, and avoid paying more than retail price. So, the next time you step on a wayward piece of ABS plastic shaped like a brick, you can sigh and say to yourself, “Well at least I got it for a good price.”
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