Cosplay can be expensive, especially materials. Whether it is hundreds of beads or a ballgown that requires 20 yards of fabric to complete, material costs can add up quickly. This guide will show you how to maximize your craft store coupons to get the most bang for your buck. I will mostly be referencing JoAnn’s since that is the local craft store in my area, but these tips can apply to most other major craft supply retailers.**
STEP 1: COSTUME BREAKDOWN
Impulse cosplay can lead to impulse spending. Planning ahead is THE best way to save money on cosplay, regardless of the coupons. It is really easy to fall in love at first sight with a character from a new show/game/comic, etc. and immediately set out to cosplay them. Before you begin purchasing supplies, start by breaking down the costume into components to see what needs to be purchased- all the way down to thread and buttons.
(more about how to do a cosplay breakdown can be found in this video)
Once you have this list compare it to what you already own. Cross off any items you have in your cosplay stash to avoid wasting money buying things you don’t need. The earlier you start planning a costume, the more time you have to look for sale items.
STEP 2: SIGN UP
The easiest way to get coupons is from the store website. In this age of smart phones it is super easy to pull an online coupon up on your phone and have it scanned at the register during check out. Coupon sites like Retail-Me-Not are redirecting you to site coupons, so skip the middleman and go straight to the store website.
Websites are great but only skim the surface of what’s available. Most retailers have additional coupons through e-mail, text, and apps. There are also occasional mail flyers and newspaper coupons. Sign up for whatever method(s) fit your lifestyle. It is not uncommon for special deals to be only available through select channels such as e-mail only promotions.
STEP 3: CHECK THE AD
Many craft retailers have a “Weekly Ad” tab on their website and e-mails. This is a digital copy of a potential print ad detailing the sales coming up, sometimes weeks in advance. Read through the ad and take note if anything you need is on sale and, if so, which dates the sales run through.
STEP 4: COMPARE
Compare the store ads with your gathered coupons to find the deals. Be sure to read the fine print of the coupon and ask an employee if you have any questions.
ANATOMY OF A COUPON
The top says whether or not the coupon is in-store on online. An online only coupon won’t work in a store.
Next is the expiration date. This shows how long the coupon is active.
The large print shows the base coupon info. In this case it is “50% off your total regular-priced purchase of Buttons, Thread & Entire Stock Notions.”
Underneath it emphasizes that this coupon does not work on sale or clearance items.
The bar code and number must be clearly visible for the coupon to work in a store. The shorter alphanumerical code is for online ordering.
At the bottom is all of the extra fine print detailing what exclusions may apply. Most coupons don’t work on patterns, magazines, or big-ticket items like sewing machines.
MORE COUPON TIPS
-Some stores have bonus discounts for students or members of the military.
-Most coupons don’t stack on top of each other. You can’t use two 50% off coupons on the same item to get it for free.
-Dollar off coupons (like spend $50 get $10 off) apply pre-tax. So you have to hit $50 before tax is added for the coupon to work.
-Sale prices are set. The cashier can’t override the sale for you even if the regular price + coupon is a better deal.
-Some stores accept competitor coupons for only like items. For example you can’t use a non-fabric store coupon on fabric.
-Have your coupons prepared before you check out. Don’t make the people in line behind you have to wait while you download a coupon on your phone (you can always screencap if beforehand if you have a low battery or unreliable wifi).
-And lastly, please be nice to the cashier. The company makes the coupon policy, not them. Getting grumpy about a coupon not working won’t change anything- it just makes you look like a jerk.
(**Disclaimer: this guide is in no way affiliated with any of the above mentioned stores and is simply a collection of my personal shopping experiences.**)