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Welcome to the first installment of Brickonomics 101!  Today’s lesson?

NEVER pay retail for LEGO

This may seem obvious to you, but it goes a little deeper.  For instance, what is retail?  For me, the holy grail of LEGO retail pricing is the LEGO Shop at lego.com.  Visit it often, and know their prices!

Most brick & mortar (B&M) retailers where you buy LEGO (Target, Walmart, etc.) will have retail pricing. But some, Toys R Us (TRU) comes to mind, will not.  TRU will generally mark up every set they carry, and they’ll mark it up substantially.

Lesson 1: Only buy LEGO from Toys R Us as a last resort.

I think it’s awful how much they mark things up, but I understand it.  They are the last B&M toy store I can think of, and they just can’t compete.  They have to mark things up to turn a profit.  Again, don’t agree, but understand.  I find the people who shop here tend to be older, and they’ve always purchased toys from Toys R Us.  My mom is a perfect example.  She buys all my kid’s toys at TRU.  If you do shop at TRU, there are some things you can do to level the playing field.

  • Sign up for their rewards program.  If you buy enough, you can get some decent discounts.
  • Get a TRU credit card.  The points you get from using it will add up, and can deliver additional savings.

Most online stores, such as Amazon, will also offer retail pricing.  Actually, the pricing might even be slightly less than retail.  What online and B&M stores all have in common is that LEGO will eventually go on sale.  It’s not often, but it DOES happen.

Lesson 2: Only buy LEGO when it’s on sale

Let’s be honest.  You don’t NEED LEGO.  And you certainly don’t need it NOW.  We all WANT LEGO.  And what do you want more?  LEGO now, or MORE LEGO?  Personally, I’m a very patient person when it comes to LEGO.  I always wait for the best pricing I can find. (I’ll cover my strategies for this in another lesson. 🙂 )

Sometimes, the sales are spectacular.  For instance, Target recently had LEGO on sale for 20% off.  That’s substantial.  And this 20% savings was on top of some already reduced prices.  The best example of this was the current LEGO TIE Fighter.  I think it retails for $54.99.  Last week, you were able to get it for around $35.

Recently, Amazon.com has started price matching when traditional B&M stores have sales.  This can be a triple win for you.

  1. You’re getting your LEGO on sale, thus saving money
  2. Most states don’t get charged tax, thus saving money
  3. You don’t use gas travelling to and from the store, thus saving money
Amazon.com is your friend.  After recommending Amazon, I feel I need to add the following disclaimer:
Amazon.com is notorious for not properly packaging their shipments.  They do a terrible job at this, and most LEGO packages I’ve received look like they fell off the back of the truck.  Thankfully, no LEGO boxes themselves have been damaged, so no lost parts.  At the end of the day, I collect LEGO, not LEGO boxes.  I just want the bricks to get to me safely.
Lesson 3: A Toys R Us sale isn’t really a savings

While on the topic of sales, I need to point out that while TRU does have LEGO on sale more than anyone else, it really isn’t a savings.  Check out this video by The Brick Show if you don’t believe me.  They break the math down perfectly.

Lesson 4: Take advantage of the LEGO VIP program

While not quite the same as buying LEGO on sale, the LEGO VIP program can help save you some money, too.  It costs nothing to join, and basically gives you a 5% rebate on your LEGO purchases through LEGO stores or shop.lego.com.  For some LEGO exclusives, there’s really no other choice.  You may as well get something on the back side you can use to buy more LEGO.

The absolute best way to save on LEGO is to wait for a good clearance sale.  But I’ll cover that another day. 😉

What are your suggestions for saving money on LEGO purchases?

I am an Adult Fan of LEGO (AFOL) and an active member of the Michigan LEGO User Group (MichLUG). I have loved LEGO for as long as I can remember. I am currently working on the following models:
– UCS Millenium Falcon
– Emmett’s Apartment Building
– Gringott’s Bank

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