All year long, Clark.com’s Michael Timmermann is sharing quick and easy ways to save money as part of our Michael Saves series. Check in every Monday as he puts new and familiar savings strategies to the test. Sign up for our newsletter to have these stories delivered to your inbox!
If you want brand name shoes for less, DSW is a great place to look for bargains!
Many people mistakenly believe that DSW stands for Discount Shoe Warehouse — wrong! It’s actually Designer Shoe Warehouse, and the store is full of great deals on high-quality footwear!
How to save money at Designer Shoe Warehouse
In each of DSW’s more than 400 locations across the country, there are thousands of shoes for men, women and children — as well as a large selection on its website, DSW.com.
So how do you find the perfect pair at a perfect price? Here’s how to save at the DSW near you.
1. Go immediately to the clearance section
You know how most retailers have just a tiny clearance rack in the back of the store? That’s not the case at DSW — the store has a huge variety of discounted (but not always cheap) shoes.
In fact, its clearance section is often larger than the entire shoe department at places like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.
When I go shopping at DSW, I follow the clearance signs to the back of the store and pay no attention to the regular-priced merchandise that’s up front and usually out of my price range.
I recently picked up these Aldo dress shoes on clearance for less than $25!
2. Shop by color code
To save the most money at DSW, you need to understand the way items are priced.
Every pair of shoes will have a tag that reflects DSW’s price and a comparison price, which is how much you may pay for the item at another store.
Clearance merchandise will also have these color-coded discounts:
- Purple: 20% off
- Red: 30% off
- Blue: 50% off
- Green: 70% off
If I’m not after something specific, I’ll only consider shoes based on the color guide, looking for those 70% off (green) and 50% off (blue) stickers.
3. Let DSW do the math for you
With so much information on the price tag, you may be thinking that finding a bargain at DSW is going to take a lot of work, but it really isn’t that hard.
They hang these boards to show you exactly how much you’ll pay after the discount.
4. Yellow tag alert!
The color guides posted in the store would make you believe that 70% off (green) is the highest discount you’ll be able to get.
Keep an eye out for yellow tags, which mean the item is a whopping 80% off.
You may not see many of these tags in the smaller men’s clearance aisle, but they’re easier to spot in the women’s section, especially for smaller and larger shoe sizes.
There must be something about the color yellow! It’s also the secret to saving more at T.J. Maxx.
5. Spot the hidden deals
Kyle from Rather-Be-Shopping.com recently informed me that my strategy of only shopping the clearance rack is flawed because there are hidden deals all over the store.
I made a special trip to DSW to see for myself — and he was absolutely right!
The picture below shows some clearance shoes that I spotted in the regular children’s section. They were positioned right next to shoes that weren’t even on sale.
Kyle suggests quickly scanning the aisles for these out-of-place clearance shoes.
6. So much more than shoes…
Shoes are the specialty at DSW, but there’s also a selection of purses, socks, hats and scarves.
As a general rule, you’ll find more expensive accessories located in the front of the store near the register. Clearance accessories are found by the marked down shoes.
For women who buy handbags at stores like Ross — or just looking for discount designer bags — it’s definitely worth a look!
7. Return online purchases in-store
Shopping online for shoes isn’t easy because you never quite know if you’re going to like the fit.
Reading the reviews of specific items on DSW.com can help, but you should know that exchanges are free and so are returns if you bring the item back to a DSW location near you.
However, returns (not exchanges) via mail may cost you an $8.50 shipping fee.
8. Join DSW Rewards
Even if you don’t shop there often, the free DSW Rewards program is totally worth it.
Here’s how it works: You earn points with every purchase, including clearance items, which lead to valuable rewards certificates for future purchases.
- $10 coupon for every 1,500 points earned
- Double points days twice a year
- $5 off certificate emailed on your birthday
Before you go shopping at a physical location, check DSW.com for any additional promotions, like this recent triple points offer that required customers to show a barcode to get the extra points.
Members earn 10 base points for every dollar spent, so rewards add up fast!