Expert tips: Shopping post-holiday sales

Wooden nutcracker figurines are for sale at Martin Wooden nutcracker figurines are for sale at Martin Viette, a nursery in East Norwich, that has great after-Christmas sales. (Dec. 15, 2012) Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

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Dinner has been served and devoured, the gifts unwrapped and the yule log is down to embers. What to do?

Get ready to shop, of course. Savvy Long Islanders know this is the perfect time to get a jump on next year's holidays and shop for decorations, ornaments, cards to create fantastic yard displays and fireplaces that look like something on a Christmas card. Their secret? They don't pay full price. And, in the spirit of the season, they're sharing their tips and strategies for getting much more for less.

"We make our major purchases after Christmas on clearance," says Roberta Palminteri, 31, of the elaborate display on her Ronkonkoma lawn. "I don't like paying full price, and you really don't have to."

Many stores and nurseries offer deep discounts on holiday decor the day after Christmas, usually around 50 percent. Harrow's, for example, has been offering day-after sales for 60 years.

"Smart shoppers are here the week before looking for the things they'll get at the sale," says Ken Ehrlich, president of Harrow's, which has locations in Carle Place, Lake Grove, Melville and Patchogue and opens at 7 a.m. Wednesday. "They know at the door to go left for the trees and right for the lights and villages."

Dodds & Eder in Oyster Bay also has shoppers waiting in line before the store opens at 8 a.m.

"We even have people who come in the week before and try to hide things they want," says Dottie Simons, president of retail operations at Dodds & Eder, which offers 50 percent off everything in the store. "They try to place it behind something else. We always find it and put it back out."

So, dig out your comfy walking shoes, because we're giving you the 411 on how to maneuver the day-after sales.

BE AN EARLY BIRD

If you're new to the shopping blitz, don't even think you'll be at the front of the line. But going early is important for the best selections.

"The day after [Christmas], I'm looking for particular ornaments," says Marie Young, 55, a retired schoolteacher from Port Washington. "I'll go to some of the higher-end nurseries like Martin Viette for Christopher Radko or Old World Christmas handblown glass ornaments."

TRY UNEXPECTED PLACES

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Karen Conway of Kings Park takes the road less traveled to find a bargain.

"Target [on] the day after Christmas is like a war zone," says Conway, 42, a stay-at-home mom. "So, don't overlook places like Rite-Aid and Walgreens or CVS. They all have some Christmas stuff like cards and paper, but people don't think to go there so you have your pick of what's there."

Another strategy is to stay away from the hottest items at a popular store. Hallmark is known for collectible ornaments, and they're the first things customers make a dash for before and after Christmas.

Ron Falbee, who owns seven Hallmark stores on Long Island (hallmark.com/stores), suggests that when the doors open, customers instead head for the wrapping paper and boxed cards, which usually are in abundance.

HIGH END, LOW PRICES

Buying gifts can sometimes sap your holiday budget, and there's no room left for splurges. But, who can say no to a blown-glass ornament at half price or better?

"I like to make the rounds of stores," says Conway, who's on the hunt for deep discounts for inflatable lawn decorations and specialty ornaments. "Things like baby's first Christmas and other dated ornaments, you can pick them up for a few dollars the day after Christmas."

WAIT FOR THE PRICE DROP

Yes, the day after is a great time for half-price decor. But, give it another week and prices will drop even more. Expect another 10 percent to 25 percent drop if you wait a week. And, up to 90 percent if you can hold off for two weeks.

Palminteri has a formula she goes by. "If you go in and there's only one or two of something you want, snap it up," Palminteri says. "If there's like 30 or more, wait. I guarantee you the price will go down."

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