9 Smart Tips for Shopping at The Container Store, According to Pro Organizers

published Jun 7, 2022
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When it comes to shopping at The Container Store, it helps to do a little prep work in order to have the most successful shopping trip and get in and out with what you need (and nothing more). I learned this the hard way. A few months ago, my husband and I took a trip to our local Container Store with the intention of buying organizers for our fridge. The truth is, we spent nearly two hours walking around the store and splurged a little too much (although luckily, everything we bought fit perfectly).

To save time on future shopping trips, I checked in with the experts. Here are nine smart tips for shopping at The Container Store, according to professional organizers.

1. First, declutter your space.

Before introducing new items to your space, professionals agree that decluttering is the first step. “Decluttering helps us uncover our true needs in a space,” says Carly Adams, professional organizer and founder of Tidy Revival. “Letting go of items that you no longer use, want, need, or love allows you to make a simple system for the items that you do. Your system will also be easier to maintain because you’re not sorting through the excess day in and day out.”

2. Set a budget.

Overspending at The Container Store can be quite easy to do (been there, done that!), so to avoid this it’s best to come up with a reasonable budget before you go. “Set a budget for your project before you start shopping,” says Nikki Bell, lead organizer and owner of Just Us Organizing. “Your cart total can add up fast so a budget will help you focus on getting the most important items.”

3. Take measurements and dimensions.

Before our recent trip, I took “measurements” in and around my fridge in an unconventional and risky way: I needed an organizer the length of my arm to put on the top shelf, and a basket for the top of the fridge that I eyeballed as the length of a cutting board. For accurate dimensions, it’s best to actually measure your space (you know, with measuring tape) and compare the dimensions listed on the product online or in stores. “Everything is cute until it doesn’t fit, and you have to take it back to the store mid-project,” says Bell.

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4. Browse without buying.

Even before you break out your wallet, Jessica Litman, organizing expert and founder and CEO of The Organized Mama, recommends a strictly-browsing trip to The Container Store. “Don’t buy anything yet, just go to the store and browse,” says Litman. “Walk the aisles, take pictures, feel and weigh the products, and try to envision how these items would work in your home.”

If you prefer to browse online before your actual shopping trip, Bell recommends checking nearby stores for their inventory to save yourself from a wasted trip to your preferred store. 

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5. Bring a list.

“Never shop without a list,” says Bell. “Wandering around The Container Store is the fastest way to overbuy items you don’t need. Imagine a kid in a toy store with no limits and a credit card.” A detailed list created before you go will help you remember everything you need, check off everything you’ve bought, and note any items that weren’t available that you’ll need to buy later on. 

6. Find the easy things first. 

Certain items, such as organizing bins and baskets, are easy to find and choose, while others, such as shelving, might take more time to decide. Litman recommends putting those easy items in your cart first so you can spend time deciding on more complex products: “While you shop, you should start in the area that will be the easiest for you to find the items you are looking for,” says Litman. “Then, move on to the next area you know may take a little more brain power.”

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7. Take advantage of their free design services.

For DIYers who want a little design advice, The Container Store offers free in-home and virtual design consultations. “Whether you’re designing a custom closet or pantry, be sure to take advantage of their free design services,” says Adams. “All you need are the dimensions of the space and their specialists can assist you in creating the organized space of your dreams — all for free!”

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8. Always keep your receipt.

Even if you take measurements perfectly, there is still a small risk that the items you purchased might not be a perfect fit. For this issue, Bell suggests keeping your receipt in a safe place until you’re sure you’re keeping the item.

9. Join the Organized Insider rewards program.

Both Bell and Adams agree that The Container Store’s Organized Insider rewards and loyalty program can make it easier and more convenient to shop — especially if you’re a regular or have a particularly big project coming up. There are three tiers based on how much you spend annually, and all include perks, discounts, and receipt-free returns. 

Do you have tips for shopping at The Container Store? Tell us in the comments below.