Outlet shopping has become a big thing in the Washington metropolitan area. There are 7 major outlet malls less than 100 hundred miles from DC including the new Clarksburg Premium Outlets. With all of these shopping destinations, the shopping excursion can be somewhat daunting. However if you remember my 6 outlet shopping tips, you can enhance your shopping experience and even come away with some great finds. And even better…. some fantastic bargains.
Clarksburg Premium Outlets is just north of Washington, DC. With stores like Armani, Ermenegildo Zegna, All Saints, Thomas Pink, Bally and Hugo Boss, it clearly lives up to its name of a premium outlet. On my last excursion, I decided to put my outlet shopping tips to the test. Let’s just say I made out well and will be going back in the near future.
Outlet shopping tip #1: Understand the merchandise.
Many outlet stores do not carry the same merchandise as their full retail stores. Often times, the inventory in factory or outlet stores is made exclusively for the outlet and was never in the retail store. To come in at the lower prices, brands often use less costly materials but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I find it’s a good way to stock up on basics and the stores are much more reasonable prices then at their full price counterparts.
Outlet shopping tip #2: Hit the sale racks
Even if the merchandise from the retailer is made exclusively for the factory, often times, the sales rack (usually in the back of the store) will carry items from their full price stores. These items are typically carried in very small quantities but you could find a hidden gem. For instance, I’ve found Ralph Lauren Purple Label on the sales racks at the Polo Factory Store.
Outlet shopping tip #3: Learn the delivery times of your favorite store.
While some stores carry items made exclusively for the store, others carry full price merchandise. The secret is to learn when that merchandise will hit the store. In the case of Theory, it can be as little as 6 – 8 weeks after it’s been in the full price store. With the earlier times clothes are hitting retailers, that means you could score this seasons looks and still be able to wear them in season. Other times, the looks may be from several seasons ago. However remember classics never go out of style. I was able to score a couple of incredible blazers at Thomas Pink for less than $100 each.
Outlet shopping tip #4: Follow the sales at full price retailers and online.
Many times when the sales hit the full-price stores, it’s not long before the merchandise pops up in the outlets. Although I didn’t do it at Clarksburg, I once tracked down a pair of Ferragamo loafers that went on sale at the retail store. Because they were sold out at there, I was able to track them down at Desert Premium Outlets in Palm Springs, its sister outlet, and even got a bigger discount. Now that Ferragamo is at Clarksburg Premium Outlets, my search for out of stock sales items has gotten closer.
Outlet shopping tip #5: Ask questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions especially at the higher end stores. Armani and Zegna both had some of their higher end clothing with original price tags to match. But upon chatting with the managers, I was surprised to find out that many of these items were as much as 80% off their current prices. Over at Allen Edmonds, they had shoes with secret gold dot boxes. Some of these held custom made shoes that were not purchased. It was like a bargain hunters treasure hunt!
Outlet shopping tip #6: Join the VIP club
Club members can get advance notice of sales and can also pick up a coupon book for additional savings. The additional savings made be just enough to put that out of reach item to a more attainable price point. At Hugo Boss, I was able to nab an exquisite blue suit that is almost identical to one that is being sold at retail for more than twice the price.
You have any outlet shopping tips? I’d love to hear them. Drop me a line.
Details/Shop My Look
With the exception of my shoes and tie, I discovered that my look could be found out the Clarksburg Premium Outlets.
Blue suit jacket – Theory (seen at Theory), White dress shirt – Armani (Seen at Armani); Blue floral tie – Prada; Denim jeans – 34 Heritage (Seen at Allen Edmonds); Lapel Flower – Hook and Albert (Seen at Saks Off Fifth); Blue loafers – Gucci (Similar at Ferragamo).