How To Avoid The Nefarious Tricks Of Outlet Malls

What is an outlet store? Long ago, factories where consumer goods were made were actually situated in the United States, and shoppers could visit factory stores to find overruns, merchandise with tiny errors, and other wonderful cut-rate goodness. (As an exciting bonus, if you took a wrong turn, you could end up on the factory floor.) Outlet malls have proliferated, but there are few factories left in America. Today, a store proclaiming itself to be an “outlet” is more likely to be peddling lower-quality merchandise under a well-known brand name. So how do you know when an outlet isn’t offering any true deals?

DivineCaroline rounded up a few tips for effective outlet shopping. Don’t let retailers’ “outlet” tricks fool you.

Look at apparel tags. The tags of irregular or imperfect merchandise are usually sliced, marked on, or otherwise altered to show that the merchandise is unfit for retail sale.

Know what an item is really worth. How can you know whether you’re getting a great deal at the Samsonite outlet if you don’t know the real retail price of a suitcase?

Think seasonally. It’s a good bet that any in-season merchandise is from an outlet-only line.

Remember that fewer stores = better quality. If you’re shopping at a store that has posts in every outlet mall in the country, you’re almost guaranteed to be getting outlet-quality merchandise. At an outlet with only a few locations, the merchandise is more likely to be true overruns, discontinued items, and last-season’s line because the company doesn’t have to fill hundreds of stores.

Me, I don’t consider it real outlet shopping unless I’m digging through a bin of $4 “slightly irregular” jeans of all sizes. That experience doesn’t really exist anymore–it’s been replaced by disappointingly well-organized and ubiquitous outlet malls scattered all over the country.

Buyer Beware: Sneaky Tricks of Outlet Malls [DivineCaroline]

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  1. digital0verdose says:

    I’ve yet to see an outlet store that had better prices or deal than their mall or strip counterparts. Tanger’s is a perfect example.

    • AnonyLawyer says:

      COACH outlet. I purchased a $400 bag for $199 + 20% off.

      • Sian says:

        how could a bag possibly be worth $160?

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          What’s it to you? AnonyLawyer got a great deal, and it’s not your money.

          • AnonyLawyer says:

            Thanks- I am a conscious consumer, but I don’t hem and haw over the expensive purchases of others. For what it’s worth, i’ve never purchased a Coach bag from the boutique and I do not invest in trendy, expensive things. I love my bag. It is not emblazoned w/ logos, it’s classic, and it makes me happy.

            • RayanneGraff says:

              I’ve never had a Coach bag, but I can definitely understand the value of a good bag. I’m a fan of Fossil handbags myself, they’re cute, sturdy, offer plenty of nooks & crannies, and they’re leather so they’ll last forever. My mom thinks I’m certifiable because I paid $96 for my newest one. She’s the type that thinks $30 for a purse is ‘expensive’, she buys the cheapest, gaudiest pleather purses that she uses until they literally fall apart. My Fossils last long enough to become just that- fossils!

              I don’t even know why my mom even carries a purse. All that’s ever in hers is used tissues & the old hairbrush she’s had since 1987.

        • Buckus says:

          When someone says “I’ll take that for $160″ then it’s worht $160. Supply and demand.

        • mythago says:

          1) Coach bags are very well-made and have a lifetime guarantee.

          2) Particularly in white-collar jobs, women are judged harshly (yes, by other women too) on their dress, hairstyle, shoes and handbags. A female attorney having a well-made and recognizably name-brand purse is like you showing up in a well-made tailored suit instead of a polyester cheapo suit from Kmart.

        • scoccaro says:

          Also coach bags last forever, she will have that bag for years. and $160 really is a good deal for a coach bag :)

        • I just blue myself says:

          That was my thought exactly. I didn’t spend more than $10 on my purse (got it on clerance at K-mart) and that was over 10 years ago. It’s still in really good condition and hasn’t failed me. What the hell do you people do all day that make your purses fall apart so easily?

      • sufreak says:

        Until I started dating my now wife, I never understood the value of Coach. Although she says I got her into it..not sure how.

        Anyhow, I can completely understand why the bags are valued at what they are. Meanwhile, I do think $1000 for a Chanel bag is insane.

        Sadly for Coach, its become such a ‘common luxury,’ especially in more urban areas. So its slowly closing its upscale value

      • Posthaus says:

        Coach Factory is a tricky one. Some things there are overruns from retail stores, but a lot of it are special runs/editions from the factory of their retail product. Those can usually have changes in color or color name, are sold cheaper and lack the dust covers. You kind of have to weed your way through to find retail stuff being marked down, but it’s there, and they are constantly changing stock on a day to day basis.

        • selkie says:

          I actually like many of the Coach outlet purses better than their usual retail line because it can be easier to find something that’s a more classic look instead of something overly trendy that will seem horribly dated in 2-3 years.

      • CalicoGal says:

        RE: COACH Factory Stores (aka Outlet)–
        These stores contain two types of COACH merchandise:

        1) “Made-for-factory,” which are items made for and sold only in the Factory Stores. These can be identified by the “F” appearing at the start of the *SECOND* set of numbers, just after the hyphen, in the inside patch.
        There’s nothing wrong with these items; they might be a bit less fancy of design, lighter materials, thinner straps, or less hardware.

        2) “Boutique deletes” which are items transferred from the mall-based boutique COACH stores. These are typically customer returns, over-runs, or last season’s stock. Boutique deletes are becoming harder and harder to find in the Factory Stores. They can be identified by a “bulls eye” sort of stamp on the corner of the ID patch inside, and the lack of an “F” after the hyphen. Usually in the Factory Stores, these have a 50% off sign with them. Many times, these items can be had for less than the Made-for-factory items.

        The best thing about buying at a COACH Factory Store is NO COUNTERFEITS!!! And great prices.

    • HoJu says:

      Really? I go into the Banana Republic outlet and walk out with two bags full for $100. I know they manufacture specifically for outlets (as is signified by the little stars on the tag) but I don’t mall store quality at outlet prices.

      The real difference I see at BR all their shirts are hugely emblazoned with their logo. At the mall stores there’s none of that crap.

      That bugs me.

      • kristinabeana says:

        I love the BR outlet and am very excited about using my “give & get” coupon this weekend. I stock up twice a year on basics for work – slacks, skirts, sweaters and blouses. All staples at excellent prices.

        • Pinklette says:

          That coupon is good at the outlet stores too? I missed that part. Looks like I’m hitting up the Gap Outlet this weekend!

      • Laura Northrup says:

        I find that the clothes at the Banana Republic outlets run bigger than in the mall stores. I find this fascinating from a socioeconomic point of view, and very useful because I’m fat.

    • pandroid says:

      I have – in Istanbul. Since the clothes are actually made there, it’s true outlet finds.

      In the US, the only outlets I have seen that seem appreciably cheaper are Van Heusen and Chidren’s Place. Both have sales that push them lower than you’d be able to find elsewhere, but that’s because they’re overpriced in stores.

    • Doncosmic says:

      Try going to some of the stores in Tanger during their bigger sales, especially Bass, Izod, or Van Heusen, the stuff is normally over 50% off the normal outlet prices. Plus if you go to the one in Delaware there is no sales tax.

    • Me - now with more humidity says:

      GAP and Eddie Bauer. Last time, I got 10 good pieces for just under $100.

  2. Dallas_shopper says:

    There’s an “outlet” mall about 30 miles north of Dallas that’s extremely popular. It has the Gap, Banana Republic, J. Crew, etc. but all of them sell items that aren’t available in the normal stores. It’s odd. You can get a good deal at all of them, but you have to be careful. It’s not automatically a bargain just because it’s at the outlet mall. I did get some great tees from J. Crew at $10 a pop that are much better quality than the equivalent $10 tee at Target, but you can’t assume everything there is a total bargain!

    • babyruthless says:

      I got a great deal on a Coach purse at this outlet mall. I paid about $85 for a classic black bag. It has a navy blue zipper on the inside–I think this might be the mistake that landed it in the outlet mall. My mom, on the same trip, got a pair of fabulous gloves for about $15 (she won the purchase of the day). Some of the stuff there was definitely made for the Coach outlet though, and was more expensive, and IMHO, of poorer quality (since you can’t see my purse’s navy zipper, anyway)

      • Mr. Stupid says:

        A “deal” on an $85 purse? This website might not be right for you.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          $85 for a good Coach purse is a bargain. Aside from that, I think it’s YOU who does not belong here if you want to ridicule how people spend their hard-earned money. You can do whatever you want with your money, so others can as well. All consumers have rights, not just the ones who you think are moral and decent.

          • AnonyLawyer says:

            Agreed! I’m sure everyone on this site except for us is sewing their own clothes, growing their own produce, milking their own cow (which they received from bartering an old Coach bag from the 80s that is still kicking) ;-)

            • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

              hah! i spin my own thread from pet hair, then weave it and sew it into clothes. i also have a mini cow in my yard. when she’s done giving milk [from which i make my own cheese and yogurt] i will eat her and make my own shoes out of her hide [that i will tan myself]
              just kidding. but man, my pets do shed enough for probably at least a couple of sweaters.

              • babyruthless says:

                You could get an angora rabbit and spin your own yarn from it and then make fantastic sweaters. You’d probably want to dye it though, so you should also start looking into growing some indigo in your yard.

          • Dallas_shopper says:

            $85 for any well-made bag is a bargain, but I think the problem people have with Coach is that everyone and their grandmother seems to have a Coach bag these days. I’m the only woman in my circle of friends not carrying one. They’ve lost their cachet by being ubiquitous, and if it’s lost its cachet then people see it as overpriced. *shrug*

        • babyruthless says:

          You’re right. I should buy a vinyl purse for $20 and have to replace it every year. That would be way more economical than spending $85 on a classic leather purse and being able to carry it for years.

          • Bohemian says:

            There are many people who can not wrap their brains around the logic of spending a little more for something that will last longer. Spending $100 on a bag that will literally last 10-20 years vs. spending $30-$40 for a cheap one that will last 6 months. Those cheap bags will cost you $800 over 10 years. I also don’t have to waste the time trying to find yet another bag that will fit my needs and not look like some sort of Jersey Shore abomination.
            The only bags I buy anymore are Coach leather bags from their classic styles. My favorite is unlined so I don’t have to worry about the lining wearing out.

            • cowboyesfan says:

              Plus, you can’t really brag to everyone about spending $20 on a purse, but if you buy a bag marked “regular price $400 – on sale today only for $199″ you can brag for years.

            • Skyblacker says:

              I’ve been using the same small purse for almost 15 years. It’s beginning to show wear and the clip-on strap was replaced with something from a camera case, but I still get a lot of compliments on it.

              It was $10 from Claire’s.

      • jamar0303 says:

        It’s an even better deal for some people. Take a Chinese tourist with some money to burn to a Coach outlet. They look like an even bigger deal compared to Coach stores in China even though a good chunk of the stuff is made there. Anecdote: I got a wallet for $50-something in a Coach outlet in the US. When it got stained after I got “back” to China I took it to a local Coach store. They said the stain was permanent, and to see if I wanted any of their half-price wallets from last season. “Half price” was US$110+. I declined. Yes, that’s right, a 4x price difference.

        • Powerlurker says:

          I’m in grad school, and my east Asian co-workers and friends LOVE hitting the outlet malls before they make a visit home so they can pick up cheap brand-name merchandise, especially given how much cheaper that stuff is in the US then over there. According to my mom, when people from her company’s Tokyo, Seoul, or Taipei offices come to the US on business, they’ll often take an extra day to get some outlet shopping done before they return home.

    • shadowboxer524 says:

      Yeah, I went to that outlet mall earlier this summer. It was a waste of time. In the stores I shopped, hardly anything was cheaper than its equivalent at the “regular” store.

    • ARP says:

      I think that’s the point. Many outlet mall stores aren’t selling the same products that are in their regular store for less, they’re selling outlet mall (read: lower) quality merchandise and attempting to trick people into thinking they’re getting a bargain. So those t’s may be better than Target, but probably aren’t the same as a typical JCrew, Gap, t-shirt. You may or may not care, but be weary that you’re actually getting a standard BR, JCrew shirt.

      • Etoiles says:

        Right, but if what you want is to spend $10 on a shirt and get the best-quality shirt for that price, you’re doing pretty well. It can be a good solution for those who are looking for a middle ground — kind of like hitting up Marshall’s and TJ Maxx, only with more consistency.

        • Dallas_shopper says:

          That’s pretty much how I look at it. I can get some good quality wardrobe basics at the same price I’d pay for lower quality at Target. I don’t see it as “OMG, I’m getting J. Crew for so cheap!” I look at it as “This t-shirt/skirt/sweater is excellent quality for the price. Sold!”

    • BBG says:

      Banana Republic and Gap Factory Store stuff is the easiest ones to identify though, b/c their outlet merchandise has those three diamonds on the label. AFAIK, neither store sells any regular merchandise.

    • AstroPig7 says:

      I go to that particular outlet mall for jeans from the Levi’s store and nothing else.

    • TheSkaAssassin - College Man says:

      polo outlet FTW!

    • savashley says:

      I know for a fact that Gap, Inc manufactures a completely different line of clothing each season for its outlet stores than its regular stores. You’re not getting past-season or irregular, etc clothes, you’re getting clothes made specifically for the outlet.

    • 50ae says:

      I love the Allen outlet mall for that cool kitchen place over by Coach and the Vans store. The Vans store offers some great deals and generally is buy one get one 50% off.

  3. pop top says:

    There’s a huge outlet mall about an hour and a half from me (Birch Run for any fellow Michiganders) and it is awesome. Their Bath and Body Works outlet has crazy discounts– normal large bottles of the shower gel and body lotion cost like $17.50, but go for $3 or $4 at the outlet. High-quality $7.99 lip gloss is $3 each. I always make sure to go a few months after XMas so because their really cool (and really expensive) gift sets are on sale for something like 75% off. Those are great to buy to have as emergency gifts throughout the year.

    The rest of the stores there are alright. The big ones like Nike, Adidas, etc. are all terrible (they are pretty much useless at any outlet mall) and you’re going to spend pretty much the same there as you would in a “real” store. The suggestion about “keep in mind the number of stores” is a good one.

    • pb5000 says:

      The best thing about going to Birch Run for the day, is the massive lunch you eat at Tony’s. Almost worth the drive on it’s own.

      • pop top says:

        Oh man, Tony’s is the best. Although I like to combine my Birch Run trip with a visit to Frankenmuth, and if you go to Frankenmuth, you have to get a chicken dinner from the Bavarian Inn. Yum. :D

      • cs6ranger says:

        the only place in the know universe where there is such a thing as enough bacon

    • selkie says:

      If you’re more about performance than appearance, there can be some real deals at the Nike store. I got a ton of nearly indestructable running shirts from there a while back for $4 each. Granted, they’re screaming bright orange, and I suspect they say “Fuck me” in Portuguese on one side, but at least the orangeness of them makes me a little bit more visible to drivers in theory and a little less likely to get hit by a car while on a run.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Yep,,less than an hour from Birch Run!

    • Bohemian says:

      We found decent deals on things at the Nike store but they were odd things that were obviously overstock. like Nike beach sandals for $4 a pair. Mr. Bohemian is still wearing his seven years later.
      The Old Navy stores will have overstock in the back frequently. Found swimsuits for the kids for $1.50. I only wish I would have thought ahead and bought more in other sizes.

    • bugmenot101 says:

      I live less than five minutes from Birch Run! It’s great in one way, because you get cheap clothes, but you end up spending sooo much money because you live so close…

    • I just blue myself says:

      I visit Birch Run every year on the way home from Frankenmuth. The Bath and Body Works Outlet is my favorite, I could litereally spend hours in there trying to decide on what to get.

  4. tbax929 says:

    I like the Eddie Bauer outlet in the Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe. I actually go there anytime I’m in the Phoenix area to stock up on shirts, cargo pants, and shorts.

    If I’m not going all the way to Phoenix, I’ll shop at the outlets in Casa Grande, AZ.

    • ElizabethD says:

      And the Eddie Bauer outlets definitely carry at least some regular merchandise that you also see in their retail stores, especially things like outerwear. I’ve gotten good buys, too.

    • Copper says:

      I worked at the Eddie Bauer outlet in 2006 and this company is actually pretty awesome. Their outlet stores do have outlet lines and the clothes are a little lower in quality, but they also carry rejects, returns and items that didn’t sell at real stores. At my store, it was about 50/50, although that may vary depending on location.

      Once every two weeks we’d get a new load from the regional Eddie Bauer retail stores with the stuff they didn’t sell. We also had random stuff people returned from buying online or buying at retail stores.

      The best way to tell the difference was the labels. Everything made specifically for the outlets had a different design on the tags than the retail stuff.

  5. brinks says:

    I worked for Pac Sun years ago and they were tricky. Granted, some merchandise in the outlet stores actually belonged there and was a good price, but most of it was the EXACT SAME CURRENT MERCHANDISE at a slightly reduced price.

  6. smo0 says:

    There are quite a few outlet malls here in Vegas.. nothing really “outlet prices.”

    I haven’t had “quality” outlet items since the early 90s.

  7. savvy9999 says:

    the “outlets” in/near Rehoboth Beach DE have some very good deals. Especially at the Banana Republic store. I just bought 5 pairs of spanky brand new chinos for $20 a piece, normally at least twice if not thrice that much online.

    Generally, I find YMMV vary by store. Some are simply selling 95% new shit at new prices, mixed in with 5% teasers, others have genuinely good deals across the board.

    • HenryES says:

      The Rehoboth outlets have the added bonus of no sales tax.

      • Posthaus says:

        Delaware has the bonus of no tax… although some states don’t tax clothing.

        And the Sony store at Tanger has amazing deals on factory-refurbished electronics, with factory-backed service plans.

  8. ScarletAnn says:

    The biggest joke had to be the Sony store at Birch Run in Michigan. Not sure if it’s still there. It had lot’s of Sony products that I not seen in any retail outlet before but the prices were ridiculous. At least 20 to 25 percent more.

    The Croc’s outlet north of Cincinnati was interesting. Ninety percent of the stock was same or higher then elsewhere, but they had good deals on discontinued styles. Nice to be able to try then on at least.

    Anyways, you can’t seriously believe manufacturers are going to cannibalize all their retail and online sales by giving the stuff away. I think the public has figured it out anyways. At lot of these malls failed years ago and even the ones that are still around seem to have at least a third of the space empty.

  9. ScarletAnn says:

    The biggest joke had to be the Sony store at Birch Run in Michigan. Not sure if it’s still there. It had lot’s of Sony products that I not seen in any retail outlet before but the prices were ridiculous. At least 20 to 25 percent more.

    The Croc’s outlet north of Cincinnati was interesting. Ninety percent of the stock was same or higher then elsewhere, but they had good deals on discontinued styles. Nice to be able to try then on at least.

    Anyways, you can’t seriously believe manufacturers are going to cannibalize all their retail and online sales by giving the stuff away. I think the public has figured it out anyways. At lot of these malls failed years ago and even the ones that are still around seem to have at least a third of the space empty.

  10. AdamBC says:
    • jaya9581 says:

      Despite the fact that I grew up in Canton and still live nearby, I have never been to this store.

  11. Harry_Greek says:

    I just shop on the net. Stores rarely have what I am looking for; size 14 shoes/sneakers, tall sized shirts and non-pastel colored clothing.

    Some people find tons of bargains at Outlet malls. And, if they enjoy the experience, more power to them. For me, it’s a wasted day.

  12. ElizabethD says:

    The only reason our nearest big outlet mall (Wrentham MA) is useful to me is that it aggregates some products such as shoes in sizes I can’t always find in regular retail stores. Ecco, Merrell, Cole Haan — I have gotten good buys in each one, generally after the shoes have moved from the regular outlet price to discounted. It’s a good alternative to shipping tons of shoes back and forth to Zappos etc.

    I am actually livid today because early in the summer, I bought some gorgeous thick towels and washcloths at the Ralph Lauren outlet on sale for extra cheap prices, for our son to take to college with him. So yesterday I ran them through the wash to get the lint out a bit. Well, after 6 washings and dryings, having to use paper towels to grab all the clumps of toweling left in the washer and cleaning the dryer filter twice each time I dried them, I am dumping the damn things. Clearly these were made-for-outlet towels. I have bought Lauren towels at TJ Maxx and they are great… never excessive pilling and shedding. GRRRRR! Caveat Emptor. Never shopping in that outlet store again.

  13. Dutchess says:

    Also, stores have started creating lines of clothing that they ONLY sell in the Outlet stores.

    I’ve noticed this especially at Gap Brands (Bannana Republic and GAP).

    When they say watch the labels, it’s true. The labels in these brands are often different than the ones in the real retail stores.

    • Etoiles says:

      Old Navy used to be the label on the Gap Outlet clothes. I mean, that was in, what, 1993? But I did think it was interesting when I saw them broken out into their own brand.

      • Raekwon says:

        So how bad does that make Old Navy Outlet clothes lines :-P

        • Michaela says:

          Most people understand that Old Navy is cheap GAP Inc wear. However, I am still pleased with the cashmere sweater I got from them a few years back when they tried to get a bit classier, and I pick up a dress or two from them every season.

      • Laura Northrup says:

        Yup, 1993. I still have an Old Navy Clothing Co. t-shirt from the Gap outlet in Reading, PA from 1993 or ’94.

    • curlyfro says:

      I’ve greatly enjoyed my ‘outlet’ Banana Republic shirts. They properly are an outlet line, but they are nicely tailored. Hard to find shirts like that. Didn’t pay as much if I had gone to the regular store. So it don’t bother me. Five years later and they still look great. Can’t find that elsewhere much either.

  14. Outrun1986 says:

    Its totally YMMV here for outlet malls, your best bet is to shop at the end of the season. During the prime selling season at the beginning of seasons, you won’t find any good deals but the end of the season is different. My mom got Gap jeans for like 6$, I got jeans for $3.67 at the Gap store. We suspect that the jeans were last years styles that were left over but we do not care as the style is not important as long as its not something from 10 years ago. My mom gets t-shirts for $4 at the Gap store and they are MUCH MUCH better quality than anything in Walmart and Target. Walmart’s, Target’s and Kmart’s sneakers are the same prices as at the outlet mall but at the mall you can get a brand name pair for $25-30 instead of paying the same price for garbage from Walmart or Target. You have to watch though, not all shirts in the Gap are created equally, some are thin and see through just like at Walmart and Target, however if you feel the material you will find the better quality shirt is $4 instead of $3 on clearance. Gap also runs 40% off of its clearance at certain times and if you can hit that sale you are in for some very good deals.

    If the price is low, I don’t really care if the line is made for the outlet or is the regular stuff. No one here is going to know the difference. People aren’t looking at my jeans and saying, oh that’s last years style… I rarely purchase clothing for more than $10 an item except for shoes so any of the normal outlet prices like $30 for a shirt or $60 for jeans is wayyy over my clothing budget and I will just look at it and say OVERPRICED!

    The converse outlet also runs a 2 pairs for $35 sale occasionally, which is the best deal on converse that I have ever seen and they have a variety of styles to choose from.

  15. trashpicker says:

    I absolutely love our L.L.Bean outlet stores here in Maine. You can get excellent deals ($3 smart wool socks, $4 pima cotton shirts, $10 windbreakers) especially if you shop off season. Down jackets can cost as little as $40 in the spring time. I got my winter boots for $25 marked down from $130 and they all come with their guarantee.

  16. KennyS says:

    L.L. Bean outlets are good. They have some regular items but also a lot of discontinued, overstock, returns, etc. for good prices. The tags show if it was a return.

  17. mebaman says:

    I noticed this several years back when I went to a Brooks Brothers’ outlet, excited and eager to find BB suits at non-BB prices. I recall the suit prices not being incredibly low, but excellent compared to what BB charges for its suits at its regular stores. Immediately, I pulled a suit from the rack and retreated to the fitting room for sizing; however, upon sliding into the pants, I realized that the pants were scratchy and coarse. Upon removing the pants, I noticed something unforgiveable in any suit sold in this day and age – no pant lining – not even partially lined (even JC Penney’s bargain suits have linings in the pants). The omission was not in error – these were suits specifically produced for the BB outlet. Needless to say, I left the outlet, hit the clearance racks at a few ordinary retail stores and found an honest to god HSM suit (with lining in the pants) for 75% off.

  18. balthisar says:

    Kudos to the Birch Run crowd. I like Birch Run, not because of the prices, because I can avoid enclosed malls and all of the stupid, little stores they have. There’s something really convenient in parking less than 100 meters from the Eddie Bauer store, knowing that they’ll have Eddie Bauer shirts, and not having to walk 2000 meters trying to figure out which of the 100 mall stores will have an Eddie Bauer shirt. Plus, a quick trip into Frankenmuth to get some famous chicken from the KFC, and hit up Bronner’s for the wife, and it’s a good day.

    And for the record, I was kidding about KFC. Zehnder’s is my destination of choice.

  19. backwerds says:

    I just got back from Birch Run this weekend; the prices weren’t incredibly low; but there are some exceptions here and there.

    They had this sport-blow out tent sale where prices were incredibly low; shirts for about $4, heavy duty jackets for $20.

    That being said; my favorite place to get jeans, (other than Costco now that they have/had Lucky brand jeans) was to get jeans online from The Buckle. You can go into their retail store, figure out what style, color and size you like then go straight to your computer and order their “irregular” items on line for $20-$30 a pair. I’ve gotten about 4 pairs of jeans over the course of 2 years; every pair has worked out wonderfully, the irregularities on their jeans are barely even noticeable (mistakes on seams, slight snags that look normal, etc)

  20. bigdirty says:

    Most stores in outlet malls are horrible, especially in the NY/Philly areas where you’ve got Riverhead, Deer Park, Woodbury, Jersey Shore, Liberty Village, Jersey Gardens, Jackson, Franklin Mills, and the Philadelphia outlet centers all having the same exact things. The only stores I ever find anything of actual “value” is the Oakley Vault (for clothing not sunglasses, because they’re still way overpriced) and Columbia. Occasionally I would find shoes at some of them, thinking that 15 = outlet sized shoe, but now most of the stores cap the size at 13.

    • DerangedHermit says:

      Ha. No one ever remembered Bellport Outlet Center. They have a piddly selection of outlet stores now that half the shopping center went belly up, but VF Outlet is pretty damn good. I like getting Wranglers for ~$10 a pair.

      Riverhead Tanger sucks, and Deer Park Tanger is only slightly better because it has a Chipotle and Christmas Tree Shops.

    • sufreak says:

      You forgot the AC Walk and the Pier in AC

      • bigdirty says:

        Wow – you guys are either quite the outlet shoppers or just really picky over my omissions (especially south of 195 where I travel much less).

        I just remember “freak size” shoes always being more plentiful than they are now.

        • bigdirty says:

          And I also forgot all of the outlets of Secaucus/Harmon Cove – but does anyone really go to them?

    • Jevia says:

      I was with friends at the Peddler’s Village/Outlet area in Buck’s County last weekend (first time there). At the outlet section, I wasn’t all that impressed with the prices, I had seen similar discounts at my local mall for Children’s Place. But then we looked around in the Peddler’s Village and I realized that compared to those prices (some nice stuff, but omg the prices), the outlet section must look like a great deal.

  21. calico says:

    I seriously love the Coach outlets. I bought a $500 wool coat for $200. I’ve worn it all winter, every winter for 5 years and have no intention of stopping… worth every penny. The wool coat I bought at Nordstrom’s for $100 one year lost two buttons by the end of winter and required a second jacket underneath.

    • INsano says:

      *correction

      You bought a coat that retails(sheep price) for $500. Company probably paid $75 bucks for all production, shipping and housing. $200 is fine with them…that’s why they were selling it for $200.

      That being said, if you like it and get a lot of use out of it and thought it was a good price, it was worth it for you. Just don’t delude yourself you’re pulling one over on the company. :)

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        But if that $200 coat was inflated to $500 and only cost $75 to make, how much is the Nordstrom coat that was inflated to $100? $40? If the difference in quality can be expressed by price, that’s what that is.

    • Jevia says:

      I’m surprised with Nordstroms. Granted I haven’t shopped there in ages because of economics, but when I did, I always found real good quality and great customer service. I love shopping there when I can afford it. I never had a problem taking something back there that broke before it’s time.

  22. annabelle327 says:

    just last night went to the outlet mall in North Bend, WA. We got some great deals…the same shoes at a mall store were 20$ less (and by same, identical) and they also had a bogo so I was able to pick up 2 pairs of skechers that would have been $120+tax for only $60 plus tax… I was quite happy.

    To me it is the kitchen stores that do not have good deals. You are better off to look over the clearance tables at macy’s to get the same items for a lower price. YVMV

  23. Straspey says:

    The subject of selling “irregular” items of clothing is certainly a consumer issue and may often be regulated by local and/or state consumer protection laws and regulations.

    AFAIK, Here in NY State, any item of clothing which is being sold as “irregular” must be clearly marked as such on the tag – and simply cutting the label is not acceptable.

    While I have certainly purchased and worn irregulars before, I certainly do not go to the outlet malls in search of damaged or irregular clothing, or $4 tee shirts.

    Over the years, I have managed to be the beneficiary of some truly outstanding bargains of first-rate, high-quality apparel items – and have especially reaped those benefits when I bought more than one – such as three pairs of my favorite canvas summer shoe, which means I am now set for the next three summers.

    We usually visit the outlet mall twice a year – in the spring and autumn and always go with a good idea of what we’re after. Also, contrary to what the article says, I also have found some unbelievably fantastic deals when buying off-season when retailers want to get rid of their leftover stock.

    You can probably find all sorts of good quality summer wear dirt cheap right now. So buy three pairs of shorts and just put them away – then next summer, voila – you have three brand new pairs of shorts ready to go.

  24. Petah says:

    I worked at a store in an outlet mall while in high school, and most of our merchandise was stuff that had been returned (original tags had been replaced) or items that had been unable to sell in the mall stores and had been punted down to us with a price reduction (or increase, since they were now ‘outlet-new’ rather than ‘regular store-clearance’).

  25. DerangedHermit says:

    VF Outlet isn’t that bad. The one in my half-abandoned outlet center usually has Wranglers for ~$10, and I find them much more comfortable than any other jeans.

  26. nekussa says:

    I have fond memories of the original Filene’s Basement.

  27. MsFab says:

    I lived in Orlando for several years which is outlet mall heaven. Some specialty stores like Michael Kors really does have things that were in dept stores 6-9 months earlier…I’m a big fan of Michael Kors handbags so I figured out the schedule of when their no-longer-in-dept-store stuff made it to the outlets & had salesppl set things aside for me.

    Like someone mentioned, the Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic outlets are everywhere & they carry stuff that isn’t carried in the regular store. I actually like the stuff in the BR outlet better than the actual store & its at a better price but still great quality.

    The outlets in St Augustine FL also have a Gucci outlet (one of 3 in the country) which sells off-season clothing, shoes and accessories that used to be in stores & online. I got a pair of Gucci loafers for 75% – they were such a deal I had to buy them & I love them.

  28. wetrat says:

    At J Crew outlet (aka “Factory Store”) the secret is to look for two diamonds underneath the J Crew logo. If the diamonds are present, it is factory store merchandise (i.e., made directly for the outlet, usually of cheaper material). For example, J Crew may make the same sweater, one version with cashmere for the regular stores and the same sweater with plain wool for the outlet. On the other hand, if the two diamonds are not present the item was originally in a J Crew store, and has found its way to the outlet because it was damaged or left over at the end of the season.

  29. samonela says:

    “Know what an item is really worth.”

    You mean like how it costs $2 to produce a shirt in China that will be sold in America for $60 retail and $35 Outlet? I doubt the person at the register is going to accept my offer.

  30. Blueberry Scone says:

    I know we have some Chicago-area readers here. What do folks think of the mall in Aurora?

  31. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I once bought a Nascar suede leather jacket from Wilson’s Leather’s outlet store. It was from the previous year and I got it for 1/3rd the origional price. Still more than I should have spent, but I figure the previous year part made it a true outlet buy.

  32. baquwards says:

    Bought 2 “nautica” polo shirts at their factory store ($25 each). Pure crap, walmart quality shirts. After a few washes they are much shorter than they originally were and the colors were fading, collars curled. The $10 (on sale) JC Penny house brand polos have held up far better, very minimal shrinkage and the colors are still beautiful, same goes for my Macy’s house brand polos.

    I now avoid clothing at outlet malls, I go for the kitchen stores, not because they are a bargain, but because they carry some interesting stuff. The bath and body works, and Yankee candles stores often have some great prices.

  33. jimstoic says:

    The Armani General Store is the only store I like at the outlet closest to where I live. It has items from Georgio Armani, Emporio Armani, Armani Collezioni, A|X, and Armani Jeans on the men’s side, and presumably all of those plus Armani Junior on the women’s. The Boss, Calvin Klein, Brooks Brothers, and Barney’s stores at that mall are far inferior.

  34. majortom1981 says:

    I dont know the van heusen and izod at least seem to have pretty good quality clothing to me and cheap prices

  35. Tom Foolery says:

    Don’t ” true overruns, discontinued items, and last-season’s line” generally end up in TJ Max, Ross, and other clothing discounters now?

  36. Powerlurker says:

    My dad loves to hit up the Ralph Lauren outlet stores or the clearance racks at the normal stores to stock up on polo shirts in all the colors that no one wants. Lavender? bright orange? sign him up.

  37. mixwell says:

    from what i’ve seen, there seems to be merchandise made specifically for the outlet market.

  38. fuceefacee says:

    Edmund Scientific’s factory store in Barrington, New Jersey was the greatest outlet store of all time. Test tubes, beakers, optical lenses of all manner and German military surplus items were available at reasonable prices. They also had a WWII Japanese submarine periscope. It was a wonderful place to get your geek on. Sadly they closed in 2001.

    Beat the hell out of hanging around the Gap Outlet Store.

  39. zombieshotgun says:

    I’m imagining factories are still making the same errors they always have (more since now they have outlet-only lines), where do the irregulars go?

  40. vastrightwing says:

    Please explain how the “health care” plan is not a tax. As I understand this, you don’t opt in: everyone is required to participate. This sounds like a tax. I also understand that carriers will be assessed some sort of regulatory fee. This also sounds like a tax. So, if this is mandatory and fees will be collected by the government, via the insurance carriers, can I conclude that I am being taxed?

    Also, as most taxes are assessed as people can afford them, this too has a similar structure. I’m led to believe that people who can’t afford this plan will be subsidized and this too sounds very similar to how we are taxed. Therefore, my own conclusion is that this health care plan is a thinly veiled tax increase.

    Please explain how this can be anything different.

    Thank you!