Where to Find Discontinued Products

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Manufacturers don't make progress by standing still, and some of their innovations may affect things you buy. They might discontinue your favorite product without notice or change it for alternatives you don't like. Even if a manufacturer changes or stops selling your favorite product, this doesn't mean you can't continue to buy it -- at least for a little longer.


Contact the Manufacturer

Your first call should be to the company that makes or markets the product. The company can tell you if it has permanently discontinued the item and, if so, whether you have any options. For example, the company might provide a list of retailers or suppliers that still have the product in stock. Some companies also have services for consumers who want to buy older lines. For example, cosmetics maker Estee Lauder Companies Inc. has a "Gone But Not Forgotten" service that helps consumers find products discontinued within the last two years.


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Overseas Retailers

Product popularity and sales vary by location, so companies sometimes withdraw products from one market while continuing to sell them in others. It's worth checking if the discontinued product you want to buy is still available abroad. For example, Mars Inc. stopped distributing Crispy M&M's in the U.S. in the early 2000s but continued to sell them in Europe, Australia and parts of Asia. However, you might pay more to have a product shipped into the U.S.


Larger Internet retailers are a good place to search for discontinued products. Though they might not sell them directly, their third-party sellers might still have some in stock. Auction sites are also a good prospect for finding obsolete stock; you can find new or used options there. Some sites sell excess inventory that often includes discontinued products. You can also do a search for the product name to find forums and social media pages where people sell the item. In these venues, you'll also meet other people searching for the same products, so you can share ideas on where to find them.


Discount and Outlet Stores

Discount retailers typically buy some stock from discontinued lines, so you might find products in your local discount stores. Look at store websites first for the item you want. Some brand-name retailers operate their own outlet or factory services. For example, electronics maker Sony Inc. runs a discontinued products website and various outlet stores across the country. You can usually find details of these services on retailer websites.


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