Knowing the Difference Between These Seemingly Identical Items Could Save You $92

Austin Sloan

What’s the difference between these two buckets of pool chlorine?

At first glance, most would probably say “nothing.” But there is one big variation between the two, and knowing what it is could be the difference between scoring a great deal or leaving the store disappointed.

Last Saturday morning, I woke up to notifications about the Lowe’s gift card promotion. During this one day event, sending a simple text that contained a special keyword earned you a gift card between $5 – $500. I received a $25 gift card and had my mind set on turning it into some kind of great deal using the tools available to BrickSeek members.

After browsing through recent markdowns at a local Lowe’s store, I left home with two items on my shopping list — a Broil King 3-burner grill priced at $64.35 (down from its normal price of over $400) and a 40-lb. bucket of chlorine granules for $26.77 (normally over $100). (If you’ve ever had a pool, you’ll understand my interest in the chlorine granules!)

Upon getting to the store, my first target was the grill. With a Limited Stock designation, I knew it was likely a display model. I checked the grills that were sitting outside in front of the store, as well as the outdoor center where grills are displayed — no dice. Next, I walked around looking up at the top of the steel racks to see if perhaps they were stashed up high — also no dice. Finally, I asked an employee for assistance, but he was also unable to find it.

Time to move on…

My next target was the chlorine granules. They were showing Limited Stock as well, so I was expecting to find only one. To my surprise, when I found them, there were five on the shelf. Additionally, the price tag was a whopping $118.98 — more than quadruple the price I was hoping to pay!

Based on past experience, however, I knew that there was more to this situation than met the eye. Price stickers on the shelf are often not up-to-date with recent markdowns, so I knew not to take too much from the shelf tag. Considering that there was more stock on hand than was reported by the Lowe’s Inventory Checker, as well as the fact that the price was not matching what I had seen on BrickSeek, I started to realize that these may not be the exact same item that I had on my shopping list.

This is when I knew that I needed to compare the item’s UPC number (Universal Product Code — which most people know as the “barcode”) with the UPC that was displayed on BrickSeek.

Quick Tip: I always default to comparing the last four digits of the barcode, as the first four digits are almost always the same for items across the same brand

It would have been easy to walk away from the deal hunt at this point, BUT one of the most important things I can tell my fellow BrickSeekers is that if scoring deals discounted 70%-90% was easy, you would never find any! It takes a bit of effort. I proceeded to pull out each of these 40-lb. buckets of chlorine and check each UPC. Yes, I likely looked crazy doing that; I mean, who compares five of the exact same item before buying one — especially when it’s 40-lb buckets of chlorine granules? (The answer is BrickSeekers… or crazy people.)

Immediately, my suspicion was confirmed. The last four digits of the UPC displayed on BrickSeek were 1517. The last four digits of the UPC on the first box of chlorine granules I pulled out were 8363. These items were NOT the same, even though they looked nearly identical.

Lo and behold, the fifth bucket I pulled out had a UPC ending in 1517. I had found my match! Instead of buying a $118.98 bucket of chlorine, I had found the same exact product for $26.77 (a savings of $92.21), all because of a few different numbers in the barcode.

Combined with my $25 Lowe’s gift card, my final price was $1.93!

So before leaving for your next shopping trip:

  • Always have a few items on your shopping list before heading to the store. When hunting local clearance, you are going to strike out from time to time
    (like I did on the grill). If you strike out on one item but find another, your trip will still be a success.
  • Always compare the UPCs of the items you find in-store against the UPCs you saw on BrickSeek.
  • We provide tools to help you find crazy savings, but it’s always important to realize that it takes a bit of effort to find these items. Know when to move on, but also know when to keep pushing!

Austin Sloan

Founder at BrickSeek
Check out more articles by 
Austin Sloan

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