bargain basement

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bargain basement (plural bargain basements)

  1. An area within a retail store, especially an area located below ground level, where the least costly merchandise can be found.
    • 1922, Christopher Morley, chapter 6, in Where the Blue Begins:
      "Where will I find an aluminum cooking pot?" growled the elder Beagle unexpectedly.
      "In the Bargain Basement," said Gissing promptly.
    • 1949 April 11, "Business & Finance: Basement Bedlam," Time (retrieved 5 August 2013):
      To proper Bostonians . . . it was not quite a riot: it was merely the first big postwar men's-wear sale at Filene's bargain basement.
  2. (attributively, often hyphenated) Inexpensive.
  3. (idiomatic, attributively, often hyphenated) Of poor quality; of little or no value; low-end, shoddy.
    • 1965 July 30, "The Law: Police: Deputy Doe, B.A.," Time (retrieved 5 August 2013):
      "This nation can't afford bargain-basement cops any more," says Oregon's Multnomah County (Portland) Sheriff Donald Clark. . . . Almost everyone agrees that U.S. police sorely need more education.
    • 1984 March 27, "Democrats Stall Anti-crime Bill, Reagan Hints," Schenectady Gazette, p. 12 (retrieved 5 August 2013):
      "We are not going to ask the brave young men and women who defend this country to put their lives on the line using obsolete weapons and bargain-basement equipment."