Hunting bargains at the Tampa Bay Hotbins
I love cheap s**t — and I just hit the jackpot.
Why I care: Online shopping mostly ended the thrill of Black Friday specials, but Hotbins — a fast-growing Florida chain that sells returns and overstock items from Amazon and Target — brings my high-stakes bargain-hunting dreams to life.
- On my trips last week, I felt like a sewer rat scrambling over discarded pizza crust, but for some reason I absolutely loved it.
How it works: Every item is the same price, which changes based on the day of the week. The stores are closed on Thursdays for restocking, so the week kicks off Friday, when items go for $12. Prices decrease by $2 every day with Wednesday items costing just $2.
What happened: I came away from the Wednesday $2 special with a few good items worth around $20 each, like a cowboy costume for my dog (sans cowboy hat but still adorable).
- But I also got a couple duds: A bike seat cushion that turned out to be child-sized and another dog costume that was a tad too big for my pup.
The intrigue: Real bargain hunters get there early on Fridays. I thought I was going to be first when I pulled up last Friday almost an hour before the store opened at 9am, but the line was already curving around the building.
- Once the doors opened, employees gave out raffle tickets for a Samsung Galaxy smartwatch and a tablet while asking people to please not push each other or fight over items.
- I witnessed shoppers swarming over newly stocked bins and yelling over Instant Pots and kitchen knives.
My best finds seemed to be ones that were unboxed and rejected. I got a brand new pair of leather roller skates and a pair of rollerblades, both with light-up wheels. I guessed they might be my size and rode the high of a good deal all day once they both fit.
- I have yet to see if the gamble I took on a bidet will work out.
- I'll definitely be back to catch those post-Christmas returns.
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