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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tip: backyard play set -- double your money

About this time two years ago, we had just moved from our urban home (a cute 1891 Victorian without closets) with one bathroom to a suburban home with three. A must once both kids were potty-trained.

We wanted to put in a nice play structure for our children but not spend a fortune. We kept watch over sales at Costco, our usual favorite store.

If you had told me we would end up buying a swing set from Toys R Us instead, I'd have called you three shades of crazy.

The strategy that I'm about to tell you, the one that doubles your buying power, is not limited to Toys R Us, though. If you are in the market for a home playground, you might try using the steps below at any store that sells them.

Now is the time of year to do so. Late-August through October is the end of the season BUT stores may still have play structures in stock.

Here's what to do:

1. Find a store that has a range of sets that would work for you. You should go to a brick-and-mortar store, not online shopping (hence the dearth of links in this post).*

2. Ask the sales person if there have been any returned sets.

Occasionally, a customer will return a set because it is missing a part or two. This set is now basically a complete loss for the retailer. The store is often happy to get rid of such sets for half-price, in our experience.

Our Toys R Us salesperson told us we could buy a $2000 set for $1000, an $1100 set for $550, or an $800 set for $400 -- the returned sets he had in the back at the moment.

3. So, ask the salesperson what special deal s/he can offer you on a returned set, and what returned sets are available.

4. If you don't find what you're looking for that day, try another day or another store.

5. After you buy, and when you open the kits at home, first inventory your parts. When you find what is missing, call or email the manufacturer, who should send you the parts. Free.

6. When the pieces arrive, install as instructed. Or, drink mojitos while your spouse swears and sweats a lot.

7. Feel proud of your shopping prowess as you listen to your kids giggle and watch them climb the rock wall, scramble across the monkey bars, swing maniacally, and hold a tea-party at the table.

This strategy can take some time and patience, but for up to $1000, isn't it worth it?

The photo shows my husband's handiwork in our backyard. Wanna come swing with me?

*If you really want to shop online, I found a reduced-price sets at Amazon (which may not be available as this post ages).


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5 chiming in:

BethH6703 said...

I LOVE that you included mojito drinking in your instructions! LOVE IT!

luna said...

can I come swing? I especially loved the installation instructions.

chicklet said...

I'd have NEVER thunk it. Good one.

jenny fowler said...

those are great tips. i'll use them... if i ever get a house, lol. i grew up in denver (just recently moved to rifle, co... RIFLE!!! can you believe a city called rifle is even more expensive than denver?!) and my husband is a teacher and i stay at home and well i could tell you all about the places i've lived in denver, from the private areas to "cops, filmed on location with the men and women of law enforcement" at the neighbors daily. oh dear goodness, i'm rambling. you don't even want to know, lol.

Spicy Sister said...

Great tips!!! totally loving your swingset too!!! :)

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