Adventures in outlet shopping

3 Mar

I have never been a big fan of outlet shopping. For me, part of the shopping experience is atmosphere and service – 2 things I don’t associate with outlet malls. But after last weekend’s trip to the Woodburn Company Stores (about 25 miles south of Portland); I realize perhaps I have been a little too harsh. Outlets have a lot to offer if you know where and how to shop.

Sunday morning I packed up two friends, picked up some coffee and hit the road.

Our first stop: Coach. I must tell you – I am not a fan of Coach Handbags. I don’t own one now, and I probably never will. (I do own these Coach boots and LOVE THEM). But a friend who came with is a huge fan so she couldn’t pass up the store. I watched her eyes grow wide as she walked in (and was promptly handed a 20% off coupon). My eyes narrowed and turned to this poor guy, who I had to take a photo of. His wife kept piling bags on him like he was some sort of coat rack.

After my friend dropped some money at Coach (and scored some excellent deals!), we stopped next door at DKNY. The store just opened last week so I was looking forward to seeing a bright new store with a ton of great merchandise. I was disappointed. The store had a sterile feel to it and resembled a bland New York & Company. Though the selection itself was disappointing, I was surprised to see spring styles! For some reason I had it in my head that the outlets would be trying to unload Fall/Winter styles, so the spring colors were a welcome surprise.

My day picked up a little at BCBG Maxazria. I found a short sleeved cashmere knit dress that was originally $275 for just $50! I hadn’t known that the Max Azria umbrella (26 sub companies!) included Herve Leger. I found these adorable little cases for just $30 (sadly, no dresses – I might have screamed ‘I DIE!’).

While there are deals to be had, it is important to keep in mind that outlets may not have the BEST deals. For example, my friend bought a jersey cover up dress from the J Crew outlet for $60. I have a similar dress from Target that I bought for just $15 last summer. Because she was purchasing her dress from an outlet, she assumed she was getting a good deal. Though, the dress might have retailed for $90 at the J Crew store at the mall, she probably wouldn’t have bought it. See my point?

Though the experience started out a bit rough, I DID have a great afternoon with my friends. I was surprised that the outlets had season-appropriate merchandise. I learned that if you go outlet shopping with an open mind and reasonable idea good pricing, you should be able to score some great deals!

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