Deals worth the wait: Too cool for school Hot Topic's Clearance Sales

Some deals only come around once or twice a year, but offer savings that justify the wait. This post is part of our series on such 'don't miss' sales.

Okay, I'm going to start with the obvious, just to get it out of the way: I am WAY too old for Hot Topic. Their target demographic is in the late-teen to early twenties, is really into whiny rock music, and leans toward Goth chic. I, on the other hand, am in my mid-thirties, love Tom Petty, and have never mutilated myself (tattoos don't count). While I am a big fan of Hellraiser and shave my head regularly, I simply am not nearly cool enough to shop at Hot Topic.

That having been said, I totally love the place. I first discovered it a few months after my daughter was born. Between quitting smoking and sitting on the couch with the new love of my life, I put on about 25 pounds. Deathly afraid that my daughter might one day see Jabba the Hutt and yell "Daddy!," I resorted to extreme measures to drop my excess weight: I became a mallwalker.

I know, I know, I just lost about a billion cool points. The bright side, though, is that one day, while I was pushing my kid's stroller around the New River Valley mall, I walked into Hot Topic. I've never looked back. It was having a half-off clearance sale, and the prices were absolutely amazing. For six bucks, I picked up a bright red sweatshirt that depicted Peter Griffin dressed as Che Guevara. Another $5 bought me a "Boondock Saints" sweatshirt. On a later visit, I spent $4 on a cool sweater that made me look like an extra from The Nighmare Before Christmas and laid out $10 for a couple of gorgeous goth-design t-shirts. $5 bought my daughter a tattoo-inspired onesie that said "Daddy" and sported a beautiful heart design, while another $5 got me a pair of black slip-on sneakers covered in cool skull-and-bones designs screen-printed all over them. My wife loved them.

Hot Topic's regular prices are a little steep for my tastes, but its quest to stay ahead of the fashion curve means that it generally has a respectable clearance section in the back. A couple of times a year, usually in the late summer and early spring, it puts all of its clearance items on half-price sale. Unfortunately, these sales are usually not announced until the absolute last minute; in fact, the store employees aren't even told about them until the day before the sale begins. Still, with a little determination and a well-placed bribe for your friendly neighborhood Hot Topic salesperson, you might be able to get a great deal on some utterly inappropriate, unbelievably cool clothes!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He sometimes goes to Pac-Sun, too. Don't tell anyone.

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