Recently I went on a hunt. I had an idea of an outfit in mind and I needed some specific items to bring the look to life. I’ve been working with a photographer so that I can revamp my Instagram page. That’s the reason I was looking to land an awesome deal on the items I needed for the outfit I had in my head. Buying clothes, shoes and accessories has been on overdrive because I needed to take a boat load of pictures over a short period of time. My solution was to head to the cheapest place I could think of with the most variety.
I threw on some sweats and headed out to land my pieces. The top went smoothly. I hopped out, picked up the top, checked out and was back to my car in no time. Then I started the hunt for the shoes I wanted. My first stop was Nordstrom Rack. I found the perfect pair of shoes there but they didn’t have my size. I called around a bit and ultimately ended up at the outlet in hopes of finding the pair of shoes I needed in my size.
As I called around I was told by one sales associate that the shoes I was searching for were “last season’s” shoes and that I should try the outlet to see if they had any leftovers, basically. She was a little snooty, but I didn’t care. It’s my money and I will only spend the amount I choose to spend. So off I headed. Me, the chip on my shoulder, my determination and limited budget. All of us went to the outlet. (Follow me on Snapchat to get the behind-the-scenes)
I ended up at the outlet mall nearest me. It was hot, it was the middle of the day on a Saturday and it was a bad decision. Normally I wouldn’t be caught dead there at that time of day. I am a master – MASTER — shopper and I plan for everything from traffic to sales days before I venture out. This desperation had me all out of my element. I trekked from store to store to store with no luck. As the sun beat me down it became clear to me that I missed class the day they went over understanding outlet shopping.
UNDERSTANDING OUTLET SHOPPING
Something dawned on me as I walked around like a crack head chasing my next high. The items for sale at the outlets are there for a reason. They didn’t sell in the stores or they were designed specifically for the outlet stores. It’s the retailer’s last hope for turning a profit. Let me break down what the outlet is NOT.
- the place you will find pristine items in common sizes for 75% less than they are in the ‘regular’ stores
- the place where you will find current or up-to-date items from the current season
- the place to go when you want what you want but you ain’t got the funds so you try to convince yourself that second best is ok
It hit me that outlets are like low cost insurance. Sure you can save some money, but you will not get free towing or rental car assistance while your car is being repaired if you’re in an accident.
It is what it is.
This isn’t to say that outlets are totally a wash. They’re definitely not. But to take advantage of outlet shopping is to be an informed shopper. Use them for what they are and don’t be no fool. What are they? Keep reading.
- the place to find staple items at a discounted price
- the place to shop off season in order to save big
- the place to find those sneakers you want in that bright fuscia color in a common size because it’s no longer the actively promoted item from the brand that makes it
Take a sip of some truth serum and use outlets wisely. If you want a solid black leather bag for everyday use, but the prices in the mall have you questioning your life decision to not be a stripper, go to the outlet and shop around for a solid black leather bag you’ll use for the next 4 years while you work a job that means you get to keep your clothes on. You will find it and it will be a great buy.
Need a few button down shirts for work in basic colors? Go to the outlet and grab 3 or 4 in staple colors that you’ll wear all year long and transition between seasons. You will save money without the sacrifice on style, cut or color. Or maybe you like high end candles, but your can’t bring yourself to pay that price for them. The outlets are a great place for marked down items like candles and other small household finds.
The fact of the matter is that if you want on trend, high quality items with a wide enough selection for you to shop without feeling forced to buy in the moment, then you’re going to have to pay the price. If you want a bargain and are ok with off season items or you wear a size 5 shoe, then hit up the outlets. Either way, understanding outlet shopping before you step foot outside your door is a necessity.
Do you shop at outlets or go straight to your favorite retailer and hope for a sale? Leave a comment below.