Those huge, red going-out-of-business sales signs are so tempting. In theory, stopping by the doomed store makes sense, as a location going under really does need to get rid of its merchandise, right? Well, yes, but the trick is that most of the time, everything's already been sold.
Large liquidation companies buy all the company's assets and then mark up the prices before the going-out-of-business sale begins. Therefore, in the first few weeks of a store's final closeout sale, there's a good chance you'll be paying standard retail or higher prices, even after the liquidator's "discounts."
If you want to do some real bargain shopping, try to hit the collapsing company a week or two before the big sale starts. The inventory will still be owned by the original business, and they'll be trying to get rid of as much merchandise as possible before liquidation. It won't be the crazy discounts you'll see falsely advertised later, but you'll probably be able to find some excellent deals. Of course, you could always sort through the 80-percent-off scraps the day before the store permanently shutters its doors, but the pickings will be slim, and by that time, quality products will likely be few and far between.