Sea of Savings: Cmart
We would suggest not heading to Cmart without your room dimensions and door widths—this former Kmart is so cavernous that large pieces can look small amid rows of chests, chairs, sofas, tables, armoires, bars, and vanities.
While remaining true to its off-price-clothing roots, Cmart added furniture in 2001 and today scavenges bankruptcy sales and furniture marts in High Point, North Carolina, and Las Vegas.
Brands include E.J. Victor, Haversham, and Stone International. Markdowns can be substantial: A Maitland-Smith blond-wood entertainment center, originally $11,700, was $4,329 recently. A Gail Steele black glass sink with brass and cut-glass faucets in an ornate vanity was marked down from $3,100 to $1,082.
The best deal? Free delivery.
Cmart, 1000 Joppa Farm Rd., Joppa, Md.; 410-538-6100; cmart.com.
Markdowns on Modern: Top Drawer
Since the ’70s, Top Drawer has sold private-label variations of high-end modern and transitional furniture. Behind one $4,000 brown leather couch with flip-up headrests was an ad for a similar $8,900 designer model.
Name brands are rare, although we recently came across a $999 Vladimir Kagan swivel tub chair ($2,300 retail). Dozens of accessorized room vignettes make one-stop shopping a snap.
Check out the clearance room, which recently featured a sleek, ice-blue Italian leather love seat, sofa, and chair for $2,000, and a countrified pine dinette table and four rush-seat chairs for $500. A staff designer offers free advice.
Top Drawer, 8909 McGaw Ct., Columbia; 301-982-1464; topdrawerhome.com.
Best for Bedding: Tuesday Morning
From tiny Limoges boxes to giant garden urns, this Texas-based closeout chain founded in 1974 can be a crapshoot.
But it’s hard to beat the prices on bedding. Although colors and sizes can be limited, we recently uncovered a four-piece Nancy Koltes king sheet set for $200, down from an eye-popping $1,035. A Barbara Barry queen sham, $30, was originally $160, while a Tommy Bahama queen blanket cover and two pillow shams were marked down from $635 to $200.
Kitchen items are also deeply discounted. French Baumalu tin-clad copper was half-off retail; an eight-quart lidded stockpot was $150. Display is always haphazard, but pawing through clearance Christmas items next to off-price beach towels is part of the fun.
Tuesday Morning, locations in Virginia and Maryland; tuesdaymorning.com.
Accessories Heaven: HomeGoods
This well-lit, well-organized cousin of T.J. Maxx has loads of decorative glass in a rainbow of colors. (Footed hurricane vessels started at $8; a 26-inch-high rectangular vase was $15.) The chain is also long on festive dishes and serving pieces, stylish baskets and boxes, and pet gear.
Mirrors are especially well priced: A framed, beveled four-by-five-footer was $150, a 32-inch square $40. Furniture deals are spotty, but recent finds included a 40-inch tufted, square red leather ottoman for $199 and hand-painted kids’ director’s chairs for $30.
HomeGoods, locations in Virginia and Maryland; homegoods.com.
Best Used Furniture: Upscale Resale
At more than 28,000 square feet, this consignment shop offers lots of used furniture, lamps, art, and unexpected accessories, like a pair of church altar rails or vintage wooden dumbbells.
Turnover is rapid, with markdowns every week for five weeks. A Chinese-style Bernhardt armoire started at $750 but over time, if not sold, would drop to $300. A clearance room does daily markdowns for ten days; a five-piece 1950s bedroom set was recently a rock-bottom $50.
Consignors include local celebs and bankrupt businesses. Artsy Fartsy, the defunct Bethesda boutique, sent over an extensive inventory, including a $3,300 painted blanket chest, here for $1,800. An independent delivery firm is on site.
Upscale Resale, 8100 Lee Hwy., Falls Church; 703-698-8100; upscaleresale.com.
Mother Lode of Silver: Christ Child
At Christ Child Opportunity Shop, you’ll find well-priced new and antique furniture, china, and glassware on the first floor, but this venerable Georgetown charity’s real appeal is upstairs, where sterling and silver-plate artifacts from Washington’s cavedwellers are arrayed in gleaming splendor.
Ogle that glove stretcher ($65), hooded salt spoons ($150 for ten), or candle snuffer/wick trimmer and tray ($112). Antiques dealers, locals, tourists, and Laura Bush drop in regularly.
Christ Child Opportunity Shop, 1427 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-6635; christchilddc.org.
A Find for Fabric: Haute
Roxene Hill sold off-price designer fabric at the Georgetown Flea Market for two years before opening a Middleburg shop in 1998. She’s still buying from mills, furniture factories, and design showrooms and filling her 4,000-square-foot space with bolts from Robert Allen, Stroheim & Romann, Lee Jofa, and others.
Recently spotted: Belgian-linen Scalamandré tapestry, $20 a yard (down from $200); Stroheim wool-on-linen crewel, $100 a yard (originally $400); a lush mauve velvet mohair, $20 a yard (originally $200).
Leathers, including animal-print cowhides, are $100 to $125 a hide. Fancy trims include beads, feathers, balls, and tassels, $12 to $32 a yard.
Haute, 15 E. Federal St., Middleburg; 540-687-4646; hauteonline.com.
More Terrific Textiles: Discount Fabrics USA
This hangar-size, Frederick County warehouse that often requires a forklift for fabric retrieval carries much more than its name implies, including wallpaper, trim, drapery hardware, upholstery foam, and do-it-yourself books.
Still, textiles reign. Stroheim purple raw silk was $24 a yard (down from $76), a Big Kahuna red-and-white tropical print was $15 a yard (originally $22).
You can find top deals on remnants: 21⁄2 yards of a French-printed Clarence House silk was $283, marked down from $1,575. Before wasting gas or risking an online mistake at this all-sales-final store, you can order a swatch to be sure you like it. Free shipping on fabric.
Discount Fabrics USA, 108 N. Carroll St., Thurmont, Md.; 877-271-2266; discountfabricsusacorp.com.