The only thing better than new shoes? New, free shoes. And if you’ve ever wondered how some folks get a hook-up or a discounted pair, look no further. Whether you’re a college student on a budget or looking to cop the latest sneaker trends when you’re low on cash, here are a few surefire ways to snag low-cost — or even wholly free — shoes at some of the biggest brands and retailers in the market right now.
1. Use your discounts
Students, teachers, seniors, military and first responders: As a member of any of the select groups, you should certainly make the most of your benefits. Major athletic brands such as Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and Reebok offer discounts from 10 to 20 percent off to customers who fall under one of the categories. You might be surprised to learn a number of higher-end names also do the same, including Kate Spade and Club Monaco, while fast-fashion destinations (think Topshop), as well as big-box retailers like Target, are more recognized for this service.
2. Become a product tester
Testing products is another easy way to acquire samples of pairs that you’d otherwise have to pay full price to own. Although companies differ in policy, the general idea allows qualified participants to try out prototypes of shoes for free in exchange for feedback. While some businesses request you send them back and offer store credit as a reward for completing the test, others might actually let you keep the shoes. Nike, Adidas, Brooks, New Balance and Saucony are among the more well-known brands that are willing to compensate their customers with freebies in order to improve product research and development.
3. Give your email
Sure, your inbox might receive a constant influx of emails, but what’s one more when you can get a product gratis in return for basic contact information? Brands that are looking for ways to market new products or sales are often willing to show their generosity with a giveaway or new-subscriber discounts. Should you be willing to sign up, men’s basics brand Pair of Thieves will send you a free pair of socks. Other examples include Keds and Timberland, both of which offer 10 percent off your next order while Hunter and Crocs are among those that provide new customers with discount codes.
4. Sign up for credit cards
Applying for a store credit card is a step above the simple email sign-up, but along with your application might come rewards points you wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere. Take Amazon’s Rewards Visa Signature Card, for example, which gives shoppers a $50 Amazon.com gift card immediately upon approval. For Neiman Marcus, on the other hand, customers get 5,000 bonus points when they open an account and make a purchase on the same day, which puts them halfway toward getting their first $100 credit toward purchases at the department store as well as sister retailer Bergdorf Goodman. Target, too, has the REDcard, which applies a 5 percent discount for every purchase made online and in stores. If you’re loyal to a particular brand or retailer, it might be wise to open an account to capitalize on those savings after receiving the initial discount or free item. Just make sure to review the credit card’s terms of service to make sure the interest rate and package align with your needs.
5. Enter giveaways
If you happen to follow a few businesses or influencers on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, chances are you’ve come across one of their social media giveaways. Created to increase exposure and build engagement for brands, these campaigns can vary from random selection among engaged users to offering fans the chance for a free pair in exchange for sharing a post on Instagram. Some retailers host sweepstakes directly from their websites, including Zappos, which encourages participants to enter for a chance to win a $100 coupon voucher or e-certificate that they can use to buy their shoes of choice.
6. Join a store’s “friends and family” circle
Networking isn’t just for the office; as it turns out, you can become a member of a store’s friends and family circle. Among the retailers that support these cliques is Saks Fifth Avenue, which regularly hosts Friends and Family sales that allow customers to nab significant deals on designer items, usually at 20 percent off retail price. Earning your stripes as a frequent and loyal buyer at these stores can even lead to your inclusion in secret deals and promotions in the future.
7. Shop inventory clearance sales
When a brand or retailer goes out of business or closes a store to relocate, it often entertains customers with a major clearance or a liquidation sale in a bid to clear inventory. Oftentimes, these deals can go upwards of 80 percent off or come as a buy-one-get-one-free offer — and if you’re lucky enough, you might be able to score high-end designer pieces at heavily discounted prices.
8. Attend activations
Brand activations seem to be popping up everywhere nowadays, with a growing cohort of industry players looking to provide memorable experiential retail opportunities. While some turn to shopping activities with a designer, others might stage a pop-up or an in-store event that benefits a charity with each purchase. As an added bonus, some of them might even hand out product samples on a first-come-first-serve basis or allow guests a chance to win exclusive gifts from the brand. Follow your favorite retailers, shopping destinations and brands on their social media platforms to get the scoop.
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