I love a good bargain. I know I’m not alone since there are so many outlet malls spread out all across the country. But are there really bargains to be found there? I decided to do some homework and find out if taking the drive is worth the gas.
The first thing I did was to go to the source. The outlet mall nearest where I live is very small but nonetheless it’s still a mall. The first store I went to was a major brand clothes store and I did see some prices that seemed like a bargain so I bought a pair of jeans that had a $42 tag with an outlet price of only $21. I asked the sales associate if I could find this brand and type of jeans anywhere else and she said she was pretty sure that Wal-Mart carried them for about the same price. So, later I went to check it out at Wal-Mart and sure enough they had the same brand and style but they were $19.99. They were slightly different than the ones that I bought but were definitely not “outlet” priced.
The other store I went to was a kitchen outlet store and I really couldn’t find one thing that looked like a bargain. Next, was a shoe store that sold high end brands and they were priced at half off, so I asked the sales associate if these were the same shoes sold at a regular department store. He told me that these were last years styles and once they were sold out the line would be discontinued. That is a bargain in my book, but the department stores usually mark the end of season shoes half price too. I continued on to a few more stores to check out the prices and talk to the sales associates to see what other info I could get.
The interesting thing that I found out was that most, though not all, of the merchandise in theses outlet stores are seconds, irregulars, older colors, patterns, “bloopers”, and discontinued styles. Some of the merchandise is made from leftover materials specifically to be sold at the outlet store.
To get your best bargains you are better off going to the local mall department stores at the end of the season. When the stores need to move out winter clothes, for example, to make room for the spring/summer line coming in, you get stuff for 75 to 80% off and sometimes better.
Another good place for bargains are the close-out and overstock merchandise stores. You never know what they will have but there are definitely bargains to be had at these stores. They also sell electronics and appliances that are “reconditioned” or “refurbished”. So, for my money and time, the outlet mall is the last place to go for a great deal.