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9 Tips for Shopping at Last Chance in Phoenix

Last Chance in Phoenix -- the one and only.
Last Chance in Phoenix -- the one and only.
Lauren Saria

For bargain hunters, Phoenix is Mecca. And if you don't know why, then you've probably never been to Last Chance, the bargain basement where are beautiful things go when they don't get sold at (or are returned to) Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. It's a magical place where Stuart Weitzman pumps overflow from shelves, begging you to take them home for $40 a pop, and designer denim and leather jackets cost as much as you were planning to spend on lunch.

But all that comes with a price, and that price is stiff competition. You can bet a deeply discounted quilted leather Marc Jacobs bag that you won't be the only one on the hunt when you go. So whether you think you're a seasoned pro or a total amateur, here are a few tips for your next Last Chance excursion.

See also: 10 Best Places to Shop and Thrift in Scottsdale

Seeing items like this stained Marc Jacobs purse will make you want to cry.
Seeing items like this stained Marc Jacobs purse will make you want to cry.
Lauren Saria

Go in with an open mind -- and plenty of time If you're looking for a single, specific item, you're probably going to want to pull your hair out in this basement full of over-stuffed racks and general chaos. Take your time and be patient knowing that the only thing you're sure to find at Last Chance is good deals.

Choose quality over quantity And don't be afraid to be picky. With most items, you're limited to a certain number of purchases a day (for example, you can only buy three pairs of boots a day and ten dresses), so it pays to choose wisely. Additionally, many of the items you find will be damaged. Take some time to think about whether that scratch or stain is worth the discount. One great find is better than a bunch of cheap crap.

Don't expect everything to be dirt-cheap Because it won't be. A designer dress is still going to cost you either $50 or $100, and you won't find a pair of Tory Burch flats for less than $60 -- no matter what condition they're in. Because of this, the best and most plentiful bargains tend to be for middle-tier designer brands including Michael Kors (shoes can be marked down to $30 or lower) and Calvin Klein (dresses can be as cheap as $12).

 

Shoppers clear the area while employees re-stock racks.
Shoppers clear the area while employees re-stock racks.
Lauren Saria

Follow the rules and listen to the employees When they tell you not to shop a rack while they re stock it, they really mean it. The employees here tend to get a bad reputation for being less than friendly, but we would probably be irritated too if we had to deal with crazy shoppers all day. Regardless, you can ensure you don't get kicked out by simply following the rules. And a smile never hurt either.

Time your trip wisely If you're all about getting the best stuff -- or at least the freshest selection -- then you'll want to join the lines of super intense shoppers that queue up outside the store as early as 8 a.m. on Saturdays. If you're looking for a more relaxed outing, then you'll be fine hitting the racks later in the day. They restock throughout the day anyway. For the least crowds, head out on week days or after work, when it's more likely you'll have a little breathing room.

Bring a team It's a big store with a lot of racks, so you'll cover more ground if you bring a buddy or two. Keep an eye out for items your friends might like and pull anything in your pals' sizes. And while we're talking about it, seriously, pull everything. If there's a chance you might like it or want it or fit in it, just put it in your bag. Go through your finds when you're out of the way.

Use a basket You'll probably walk in and think, "Oh I won't need one of those," but, trust us, you will. The shopping baskets at Last Chance can be either carried or rolled and are located just inside the front door. We like to store shoes in the basket and hang clothing from the handle. But beware: If you leave your basket unattended people will take items out.

 

The open area of the changing rooms at Last Chance.
The open area of the changing rooms at Last Chance.
Lauren Saria

Wear appropriate undergarments For how big Last Chance is, it's a little surprising that there are maybe a half-dozen actual fitting rooms. You can speed things up for yourself if you're willing to use the open area, which is basically a mirror and hook in a shared space. If you've worn "appropriate" underwear (read: not your thong and you actually bothered to put on a bra) and aren't overly shy, it's a great way to get in and out a lot faster.

And pro tip: Be nice while you're in there. We've pulled off successful trades in the open area on more than one occasion. Not fitting into that dress? Maybe the girl across the way (who's been eyeing it since you came in) will trade for that blazer.

Always do a complete check before buying As you can imagine, items that end up at Last Chance are usually far from perfect condition. In fact, a lot of them end up their because of Nordstrom's incredible return policy, or rather, lack thereof. You'll see plenty of items that look like they've been worn for years before being brought back. And they probably have been.

Your best bet will be to look for items that need minor repairs, like a new button or a good cleaning. Clothing items that have been tailored are also great finds and can be next to new. But regardless of what you've found, be sure to give the item a complete and thorough inspection before you buy. There's nothing worse than going home and realizing what you thought was a perfect steal has some terrible defect you can't live with. 

The shoes at Last Chance.
The shoes at Last Chance.
Lauren Saria

A few other miscellaneous tips:

  • Wear shoes you can slip on and off easily since there aren't any benches to sit on while you try on shoes.
  • Leave your jacket in the car -- it gets hot down there.
  • Bring water. And don't come hungry.
  • The items we've had the most luck with are: shoes, dresses and jackets.
  • Purses tend to be in too poor a condition to be worth buying, and the selection of shirts and tops is generally underwhelming.
  • The men's selection is much smaller than the women's section, but we've noticed that there's are a higher percentage of items in good/fair condition for gents.

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Last Chance Bargain Shoes & Apparel

1919 E. Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016

602-248-2843


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