NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Shopping online may be more convenient and even cheaper at times than shopping in a store, but the in-store shopping experience will always be better in at least one way: Consumers can score free samples while they shop.
Sure, some websites may throw in a discounted add-on item with your purchase, but at countless bricks-and-mortar stores you can sample products while you shop without actually having to commit to making a purchase. At some stores, the free sample may just be a sliver of food, while at others it could end up being an entire meal. Oftentimes, the trick to finding the best free samples is simply good timing.
|Many stores dish out free samples from time to time, but it's a select group of retailers that offer great freebies on a regular basis.|
The best opportunities for scoring freebies tend to be when a company is introducing a product in the store, according to Julia Scott, who blogs about deals at BargainBabe.com. Likewise, when the seasons change, she says there is a better chance of stores rolling out more free samples for new and in-demand products. And if that fails, stores commonly provide freebies to customers who provide their email address or start following the company on Facebook and Twitter.
Certain retailers are generous enough with their free samples that you won't need to resort to these tactics, though. We asked several shopping experts to weigh in on their favorite stores for landing free stuff on a regular basis without having to make a purchase.Whole Foods and Trader Joe's
Say what you will about Whole Foods (WFM) prices, but this grocery store chain specializing in natural and organic products offers up more product samples than most. "Whole Foods is by far my favorite place for samples," says Rachel Holland, the writer behind SurvivingTheStores.com, which tracks down food and retail deals. "They always have fresh fruit samples, and it's always fun to try new 'healthier' products." Trader Joe's, arguably one of Whole Foods' biggest competitors in the organic market, is also known for its free samples. In fact, many locations actually have a special station set up in the store offering a large assortment of free samples that changes throughout the day. This writer has even seen a Trader Joe's location offers complimentary espresso next to free samples of garlic bread and pasta, a veritable feast.