Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Outlet Malls

Outlet Malls: guaranteed place to find a bargain, right? True, I've found some a-mazing pieces; however, it's also easy to get duped by the theory that because it's at an outlet it's a deal. I'm sure this will be the first of many times I discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of outlet shopping, so consider this a crash course.

For those of you that reside in the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, you are within an hour or two of some excellent outlets. Leesburg Corner, Potomac Mills, Arundel Mills--three of my favorite places to invest my paycheck. While each of those have their own unique attributes, there are a few underlying principles to keep in mind while shopping at any outlet mall.

First, certain outlets base prices are better than others. For example, the Burberry store at the Leesburg outlet offers prices that are 50% less than their base! This is incredible if you're looking to purchase that timeless Burberry trench that normally sells for almost $1,000. At other stores, though, the outlet prices may actually be more than what you pay if you found that item on the sale rack at the actual store.

Speaking of sale racks...this is the first place I head in any store, outlets included. Off 5th (the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet) and Last Call (the Neiman Marcus outlet) always have TONS of stuff that's marked down from the outlet price, which has already been marked down from the store price. Not to gloat, but over the weekend I found maybe the best deal I've come across at Last Call (Arundel Mills). Alas, it was not something I purchased for myself, but it's better to give than receive, right? Anyways, as I was looking through the final sale rack I stumbled across a silk, Armani, bubble skirt that, according to the orignial tag, had been $1,295 marked down to....are you sitting down...$79.99!!! I couldn't believe my eyes; I kept looking at the skirt thinking there had to be something seriously wrong, but I found nothing! Being the wonderful daughter that I am, I of course thought of my mother (ok, so it wasn't my size), clutched the skirt dearly, and headed to the cash register. I'm such a good child...

Another thing to look for are the coupons that many outlet stores send out quite frequently. Off 5th is especially good for this; they routinely send out 20-30% off cards and they also give you a "Gas Money" card that is good for $10 off your next purchase of $50 or more. Last Call offers 5% off your entire purchase if you use a Neiman Marcus card; not a lot, but every little bit counts.

Now that you're all jealous over my current find, I've given you enough of a road map to head out and start scouring for your own treasures. However, it's important to not get discouraged if you don't find that $150 pair of Manolos the first time out. Sometimes you come back empty handed and others you're toting home an Armani skirt :)

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