Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Shopping in Factory Outlet Stores

Factory outlet stores are not my favourite vendors. If you know the product well, you know that outlet stores provide limited editions - essentially stuff that does not sell well in the regular retail shops and department stores. In fact, some say that factory outlets have criteria for specific clothing and products made for this venue. I won't deny that I have found some fabulous buys but you can walk away disappointed as well. As well, Brian Davis from Calgary reminded me of a NO THANKS for outlets: "quite often there are no returns, all sales final". Very often when you are travelling, you do make a point of buying without thinking to return; however, it is a factor to consider when you live in the area and shop at factory outlet stores frequently.

Marques Avenue in Romans-Sur-Isere, France (September, 2012)

Because I'm in France for six months of the year and because I have friends in Romans-Sur-Isere, I make my way to the Marques Avenue Factory Outlet mall, which has become one of my favourite because Lancel and Armor-Lux both have stores here. However I also visit the LeCreuset (French enamel cookware) store for seconds with superficial topical flaws that do not affect the product, and another store for Yves Delorme bedding and linen. 

Closet Content Analysis: Outlet Store Purchases
NEED          NEW

NEED: A small bag - not an evening bag - but one small enough for evening wear but big enough for my insulin and testing equipment.

Small Lancel taupe bag purchased at Marques Avenue, Sept/12
NEW - Lancel: The small bag with a shoulder-strap that I bought in September, 2012 at the Marque Avenue Lancel store was the same "stamped" croc leather and the same colour as my Premier Flirt that I had purchased in Paris at Galleries Lafayette in September, 2011. The price of the small bag was affordable for me at this time.
The difference between buying at the outlet store and the boutiques is product choice and packaging. When my husband bought my Lancel bag and wallet in Paris, a beautifully wrapped bag came from "behind" the store's walls by another lovely sales associate. The woman who was serving me did not leave my side until the package was handed to me by the second associate. At the outlet store, the bag I chose from the display was the bag packaged for me by the sales associate at the cash register, just like any other store. The piece did not look to be outmoded or a design dud so I don't really know what was "irregular" about it.

NEED: An unembellished Armor-Lux light blue or beige and white striped top.

Grey & White Armor-Lux mariniere purchased Sept/12
NEW - Armor-Lux: Even though the outlet store had winter season selections, sizes were limited and it appeared as if there were many single items, such as one would find in a sample sale. Classics were not always available and it felt as if there was a hodge-podge of items. The only mariniere I found was pale grey and white. I bought it for 35 Euros. The price cannot be challenged. One of the reasons this classic was in the outlet store was probably because the tag said "pink and white" for the colour. Someone's mistake becomes a shopping advantage! I am pleased but I still NEED a light blue or beige and white striped mariniere.

That's it! That's all that is NEW in my closet from the Marques Avenue outlet stores. 

Leave a comment if you want or email me about your experiences of factory outlet shopping and where in the world the best outlets are!


  1. Great post. Outlet shopping can be very satisfying for the buyer. You can get brand name items at a reduced price which may or may not contain a flaw or irregularity. Regardless, you might be buying something you've wanted but weren't willing to pay full price. You likely won't get the fancy bag or box the original might have come in or two sales people waiting on you but in the end what difference does that make. It's a win win situation for the seller and the buyer. Outlet shopping can be like a game full of surprises and disappointments. You might find that pair of ballet flats you've always wanted in your size and colour at a reduced price - that's a nice surprise. Or you might find a pair you love but not in the colour you wanted or your size - that's can be a disappointment. That's what outlet shopping can be like. Whereas if you know you want a specific item at a designer boutique, you will likely find exactly what you want in the size and colour and you will have two sales associates helping you and it will be packaged in a fancy bag for you. But you will have payed full price for this treat to yourself. I like both experiences.

    Great post, thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks for your comment and insight. You have made many valid points Brian. As I read your comment, it made me wonder though . . . do design houses de-value their products if factory outlets sell at half price or less? Every Canadian woman I know who goes to Vegas goes to the Coach outlet store and comes back with three or four handbags. Makes me wonder why anyone would want to buy in their retail stores; short of having more money than one knows what to do with and if one does, why would you buy Coach when everyone has two or three or four?

  2. Very good point. I've never thought of it that way before but you are absolutely right. There's no way the value can go up when designer products prices are being slashed at the outlets. I've done my fair share of outlet shopping and when I see a bargain I buy it. I love nothing more than getting a deal on something then seeing the same thing in another store at full price. That makes me feel good. The people that have too much money likely see it another way. They don't feel good about the money saved, they feel good about the money spent and the experience, treatment and overall being pampered feeling they get at the designer boutiques. Some people call it retail therapy. I'm a outlet shopper at heart but it is nice to see something you like in a designer boutique and know I can't get it right but if I save for it someday I can. You get the item you wanted and hopefully a wonderful shopping experience as well. For me personally I still remember walking into the Tory Burch boutique. I asked to try on a pair of flats and the sales associate came out with several boxes of flats for me to try. During one trip I counted 11 pairs of flats at my feet to try on. This combined with the advise of my sales associate and a few other associates giving there opinions also made me feel really good. I handed the money over (full price) and was handed my new Tory flats. All the sales associates said good-bye and I felt like I'd made 5 new friends. I felt good about my full price purchase and experience. In the end I prefer the get a bargain but having that kind of Tory Burch experience also felt good and was worth the money.

    1. Love the splurge. Love the bargain. Each has its place in our shopping lives!


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