What Is a Bargain Bin?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2019
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A bargain bin is a type of selling tool that allows retailers to move products that have not sold well at reduced prices, making it possible to recoup at least some of the investment in those products and clear space on the store floor. This approach is sometimes used to clear out the last of the inventory or items related to a holiday that has passed. At other times, the bargain bin is home to goods that are being sold as second quality, either by virtue of having some small flaw or having been used as a floor model for display purposes in times past. Typically, any item that finds its way to the bin is sold at a deep discount off the regular price, an attribute that attracts budget-conscious consumers.

The concept of the bargain bin has to do with the creation of an actual bin in which deeply discounted items are placed. This approach can be used in any type of brick and mortar retail establishment, and will work equally well with just about any type of good. For example, the bin may include various articles of clothing, be the repository for CDs or DVDs that have been marked down for quick sale, or even grocery items that are being discontinued or cans of food that are dented. Typically, the quality or demand for the goods has diminished in some manner, making it unlikely that the goods can be sold at full retail price.


While the idea of a bargain bin conjures up images of an actual bin, the general idea can take on other forms. For example, the bin may actually be a clothing rack loaded with discounted items, or even be an entire section of the store that is set aside only for discounted items. During the heyday of the large department stores, many of these retailers made use of what is known as the bargain basement, essentially an entire floor that contained second quality or slightly dented and scratched items collected from every other department.

Thanks to the Internet, the concept of the bargain bin is no longer limited to brick and mortar retail establishments. Companies can create virtual bins on their web sites, allowing browsers to look through the collection of discounted items and place them in virtual shopping carts. This innovation means that even people who do not like to go shopping can enjoy the thrill of finding a bargain by shopping online from the comfort of his or her home.


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