The economic slump is forcing some smaller retailers out of business. In my area in the past couple of weeks I've seen a sport shoe store, a dollar market, a furniture store and a pet supply store close their doors.
While seeing these businesses go belly up makes me sad, it can be a real boon for bargain hunters. I've got more furniture than I need, so I didn't go there. I didn't need anything at the shoe store either, but I sent Sweetie in to look for sneakers. I saw the dollar market "going out of business" sign on their last day. Everything was 50 cents. There wasn't much left, but I found a few useful things. I stopped at the pet supply store today. They've got a couple of weeks left, but the mark downs were good. I found a couple of dog toys that I hope will be indestructible (we'll see).
Watch your newspaper for "going out of business" notices and keep your eyes open for signs while you're out running errands. Don't buy things you don't need, but keep in mind that some stores diversify their stock, eg. the pet supply store carries bird feeders, and the sport shoe store carries socks and some sports equipment. If a fancy clothing boutique is going out of business, they may be selling their fixtures, too. If they display their clothes on nice wooden or satin hangers, they might sell them to you, if you ask. They might have a nice coat rack or full length mirror, too.
Earlier on, mark-downs will not be great, but in the last few days they'll be drastic, often below cost. If there's something you like, but can live without, ask when they'll be closing and wait. If it's still there later, you'll save some money, but you might miss out. It's a gamble, but it's gambling that will only save you money... either it's gone and you don't buy it at all, or you save a nice chunk of change for your patience.