Sports Authority has officially started its liquidation sale, but don’t expect the best deals right away.
Amid bankruptcy, the chain will close its 463 stores, court documents said. In the meantime, three liquidators will carve up the chain’s inventory and sell everything for as much as they can.
What to know before you shop a liquidation sale
Bargain hunters, be patient
Even though the going-out-of-business sale started in late May, Sports Authority is not expected to close its doors for good until late August.
So, at least as the liquidation gets underway, true deals will be hard to find.
How liquidation sales generally work
The three liquidators are there with the goal to make money, and they generally stock the stores with what Clark calls “fake merchandise.”
In other words, you might find items that were never sold in the store before.
Liquidators use this tactic to increase their revenue, but they also want the store to look fully stocked, so people return in the weeks that follow.
This is a common practice and not specific to Sports Authority’s closing.
All sales are final, so you want to make sure that you’re getting a real deal. Luckily, we have our smartphones to do a quick Google search while in the store.
Clark warns that this can be trickier for clothing, but do your best to research before you buy.
Read more: These 7 foods will be cheaper this summer
Check with surviving competitors
When the deals start to get better, surviving competitors – like Dick’s Sporting Goods – are going to have to compete with Sports Authority’s lower prices.
Look for retailers who sell sporting goods to offer deep discounts all summer long.
Know when to make your move
While there’s probably no good reason to rush to Sports Authority at the beginning of the sale, Consumerist says it might be worth a trip sometime in July.
The steepest discounts, of course, will be in the final 10 days.
UPDATE: According to its website, Sports Authority will honor gift cards until June 28, in-store and online. However, gift cards will no longer be sold.
Read more: 8 online shopping hacks everyone should know