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Never Pay Retail: Sierra Trading Post Tips

February 24, 2010

It’s impossible that you haven’t noticed how cheap I am. In fact, I am quite mercilessly hung up on the cost of things and I don’t think it’s my classiest asset, but I just have to make it work for me. Being cheap does not, sadly translate into me not liking/coveting/pining for high cost items.

The entrance to the one and only Filene's Basement at Downtown Crossing

I grew up when Filene’s Basement was still in a basement and it was there that my mother taught me to appreciate two things: quality and a bargain. My earliest shopping memories consist of sifting through piles of japanese designer sweaters, scoring multiple pairs of  Barney’s shoes (I think that was in 4th grade) for $10 on one awesome day, furiously calculating the markdown date, and always wearing a skirt and tank top so that any corner was an instant dressing room.

Before I had kids, I had the time and inclination to scour second hand stores, sale racks and yard sales for finds. Now, for better or for worse, the internet has made it possible for me to scour after bedtime from the comfort of my own home. This post is the first in what I imagine will be a series that offers up some of the cheapest ways to get great stuff, and because I just received several pairs of Smart Wool socks from Sierra Trading Post and do not want to take them off, I’ll start there.

I’ve often heard the virtues of Smart Wool extolled and have seen them on the best heeled of the crunchy-hip mothering set, but I am  decidedly not one to lay out $19 for a pair of socks. Enter Sierra Trading Post and my troubles are solved.

I got three pairs of the same “saturnsphere” striped socks (one in each of three colorways) that are selling at REI for almost $20 for less than $9 apiece. OK, so they have “IRREGULARS” stamped on them in large letters, but I can’t feel or detect anything amiss. In fact I am head over heels in love with them. They are warm, very, and substantial (not thick, but they have heel padding, arch support, and are cushy on the sole). See my cozy tootsies below:

OK, So I love the Smart Wools, but what this is really about is how to work the Sierra Trading Post system.

1. First, sign up for their DealFlyer. Some people may find the number of missives annoying, I just delete the ones I don’t use, but the reason to get them in the first place is the coupons. You’ll usually be able to get between 20 and 30% off if you wait for the right coupon. A Warning: waiting can be dangerous if you’re desperate for something, since items go fast. For example, the socks I am bragging about are no long available, but chances are they will be back and there are a number of other Smart Wool products still in stock.

2. Get FREE SHIPPING. I have never paid for shipping from Sierra Trading Post and you shouldn’t either. Go to the Official Sierra Trading Post Thread on This is a thread that is hundreds of pages long. People post coupons codes (usually only good for a few uses, so be aware) and more importantly, they post the answers to the FREE SHIPPING riddles that STP hides in their catalogs. Simply click through to the most recent page of posts and then back track until you find a riddle and a verified answer. When you are checking out at STP, simply type the riddle into the “message/instructions” box before you verify your purchase. You will likely need to shorten the riddle and answer to fit the prescribed character limit. After your purchase goes through, and if your riddle answer is correct, you will receive an email from customer service informing you that your shipping costs have been refunded to your credit card. Ta-Da!

To some, this may seem like a lot of work for a few bucks saved, but it’s the kind of score I live for and, maybe it will help you out too.

By the way, STP is not just for socks! I feed my KEEN shoe addiction there as well. Remember these?


From → NPR*

  1. ha! I too am terribly cheap. and have been a fan of STP for years! Also love those socks so thanks for the tip.

    • Hi Eve. STP is a terrible weakness of mine, but I get the best stuff there! Hope the socks come back in stock for you.

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