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SLOAN COLUMN: Tricks, treats and treasure hunting

on Tuesday, 05 November 2019. Posted in Columns, Opinions

SLOAN COLUMN: Tricks, treats and treasure hunting

Led by the spirit of Halloween and the gloomy gray skies overhead, I decided to venture out last Thursday to do a little mid-morning adult trick or treating.

Rather than go house-to-house in search of holiday treasures, I went from bin-to-bin at Bargain Ben’s Treasure Bins and Happy Bins Liquidators, hoping to uncover a really sweet deal.

The two Florence businesses are both new. Bargain Ben’s, located in the red barn-shaped building on South Cashua Drive, opened its doors this past May. Happy Bins, which can easily be found by simply looking for and following the giant smiley face signs on North Flea Market Road off East Palmetto Street, has been open for just two weeks.

My daughter introduced me to the bargain bonanzas after she saw photos and posts on their respective Facebook pages.

“Dad,” she exclaimed with great delight, “you’ve got to check these out.”

So a week or so ago we hit both places on a Saturday morning tour in search of can’t-miss deals. I bought a few things, but the best deal by far that day was spending time with my baby girl.

Both places were about what I expected. Bins filled with piles of merchandise. Much of it had already been sorted through. The customer digs through mounds of items in search of a great find.

Everything is priced the same for that particular day of the week, so there is no wondering about the price.

Each place had restocked the day before and advertised Halloween sales. Bargain Ben’s price of the day was $3, while Happy Bins’ items rang up at $5. Both claimed to have restocked with thousands of dollars of merchandise.

A half hour before opening, the line at Bargain Ben’s was nearly to the back of the building. Once the doors opened, the early birds swooped up many of the sought-after items, like car radios, headphones, electronic toys and boomboxes. I saw one person clinging tightly to an Amazon Echo. Another carried a computer router under his arm.

One of the more unusual items I found was a set of Monroe brake pads still in the box.

At $3, these were bargains to be sure. I suspect they had worked quickly or just lucked out in choosing the right bin to search first.

Across town at Happy Bins, customers had a little more elbow room. The bins were also not as deep as the other “Bins.” There were fewer customers, but it was still quite busy. Not bad for only two weeks, I thought.

While the price for items was $2 higher on this day, there were still some bargains to be found. Lots of toys and kids items. I noticed kitchen and household appliances that would regular fetch $20 to $30 at regular retail prices.

Digging deep into a few bins proved quite interesting. In one I came up with an unopened clear plastic bag. I was a bit startled to find it contained a maroon-colored ladies’ nightie. Not what you might expect in a bin, but it certainly could make someone happy. Another produced a box with a set of four wineglasses. I sensed a pattern developing and decided to stop while I was ahead.

All in all, I left thinking that if you were in the market for bargains and a little binge-binning, these were two placed you definitely need to check out.

If you decide to head out to either Bargain Ben’s or Happy Bins in search of discounted treasures, here are a few helpful tricks and treats:

Trick: Know the prices for each day of the week. At Bargain Ben’s, it’s $3 on Monday, $1 on Tuesday, $5 on Wednesday (restock day), $3 on Thursday, $2 on Friday, $5 on Saturday (Restock Day), and $4 on Sunday. Happy Bins’ price lineup is $5 on Thursday (restock day), $3 on Friday, $2 on Saturday, and $1 on Sunday. The store is closed Monday through Wednesday.

Treat: Both stores often announce special sales where all items are $1. They are simply trying to empty out the inventory and make room for more. Keep an eye out on Facebook for the announcements.

Trick: Get there early. On days when they have restocked, the lines form well before the doors open. Bargain Bens opens daily at 10 a.m. Happy Bins opens at 10 a.m. on Thursday and Friday and at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Treat: Both places also have separate areas where food items, personal hygiene items and cleaning products are sold at discount prices.

Trick: Be prepared to dig! You won’t find the great deals unless you are willing to sift through lots of merchandise and do some hunting.

And for the owners of either of these fine establishments, I have come up with a positively brilliant slogan that would be perfect for t-shirts and bumper stickers: “Bin there, done that!”

I would be more than happy to sell it to you a bargain price!

Contact Editor Bob Sloan at editor@

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