Clearance store ‘treasure hunt’ is gaining popularity, helping online stores like Amazon
Andy Buchanan sifts through bins and bins of produce at a new store in Ottawa where he and dozens of other treasure hunters are on the hunt for bargains.
“It’s like finding a diamond in the rough…you never know what you’re going to find, that’s the big deal,” he said.
Buchanan, who is retired, came to the Quick Pick store in the village of Richmond, on the outskirts of Ottawa, on a Wednesday, when each item is priced at $2.99.
On Fridays, everything is priced at $25.99, and that drops throughout the week until Thursday, when customers can score items for just 99 cents.
There are two Quick Pick locations that recently opened in the Ottawa area. The clearance store, which also has a Bank Street location, sells surplus and returned items from giant online retailers, such as Amazon, and offers fixed prices for items that drop daily.
Anything left over is then donated or thrown away, depending on the store manager, and the bins are restocked with fresh items.
Similar business models have operated in the United States for years, and a chain called Krazy Binz opened its first Canadian store in Hamilton, Ontario in February 2021.
Clearance stores also save businesses money
While bargain hunting isn’t new, this kind of needle-in-a-haystack shopping experience is growing in popularity in Canada, according to Barry Nabatian, director of independent research firm Shore-Tanner and Associates. .
“The increase in online shopping is really the main reason for the appearance of these stores,” he said.
Nabatian says Canadians used to spend about 5% of their total purchases online, but that quadrupled during the pandemic.
He said in-person shopping has started to pick up recently and he expects online shopping dollars to stabilize at 10% before picking up again.
Shopping online also leads to more returns, which Nabatian says can get expensive for companies like Amazon. This is where clearance stores such as Quick Pick can offset some of that cost.
“It’s not worth it for [companies like Amazon] because you have to consider how much you have to pay for the driver, gas and shipping,” he said.
Nabatian said some companies are deciding to sell their returns and excess inventory to smaller retailers to cut costs.
thrill of the hunt
Gilles LeVasseur, a business and management professor at the University of Ottawa, said he suspects these stores are coming to Ottawa because Amazon’s warehouse is nearby and the goods are easily accessible.
Clearance stores then receive a percentage of sales, he said.
“That’s the beauty of the system for Amazon is that they’re able to liquidate and have rapid growth of real incremental products that haven’t been able to sell,” LeVasseur said.
Customer Dhamia al Fahad says she came to the Quick Pick location in Richmond for low prices and found “good quality clothes or household stuff for me or my kids”.
The thrill of the hunt is the reason customers keep coming back, according to store general manager Nidaa Yassin.
“The concept is to have random objects. The concept is to have a real treasure hunt for you to [hunt] browse and find objects without knowing where they are,” Yassin said.
The company has announced its intention to open other branches in Ottawa.