Outlet Store Shopping is Not Always A Money Saver

outlet stores

Ever have one of those moments where something crosses your mind and just kind of hangs out there for a while without your permission? I had that experience recently. I have a very healthy love of designer shoes, handbags and clothes. I love them; I believe in shopping for classic, timeless pieces that can be worn or carried around for decades without ever looking used or worn, and that never go out of style. I love to invest in items such as this that I will (and do and have) wear for the rest of my life. Ask me if I want a trendy maxi dress for $50 from a trend online boutique or a classic Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress for $398 from Nordstrom, and I’m taking the DVF every single time. I’m also going to wear it for the next 15 years, whereas that maxi dress might get a season before it begins to fade, rip, tear and look worn.

That’s why I never buy things in outlet stores. I was recently found myself in the midst of a conversation with a friend who just bought a Kate Spade handbag very similar to one I have. My husband bought mine for me at a Kate Spade store for our anniversary last year. It was something like $298. My girlfriend picked up her almost identical Kate Spade bag at the Kate Spade outlet, and she paid only $90 for hers. She felt she had the much better deal, but I felt that I had the much better deal. Her bag was the same shape as mine, and it was the same bag. However, when I looked at hers I noticed several things. For one, the exterior Kate Spade label on mine was made of hardware. Hers is a stamp. My bag has a much nicer interior material, whereas hers is made of a very plastic-looking and feeling material that makes a lot of noise. My stitching is much nicer, and hers was crooked and uneven.

I don’t buy from outlet stores. It’s not a bargain, it’s not a deal; you get precisely what you pay for. I didn’t tell my girlfriend this, of course; and I would not. Her bag is lovely and she’s thrilled with it, and I’m thrilled for her. However, I simply will not purchase items from an outlet store, and many will agree with my sentiment.

Cheap items aren’t on sale; they’re made cheaply

Most people believe that outlet stores just sell an oversupply of items that might be last season and not able to sell in stores anymore. This is not the case. In actuality, it turns out that many outlet stores actually derive their products from designers that are looking to create a much less expensive line of items that they can sell at outlet stores on purpose. The materials are not as nice, the finishes are not as nice, and the product that seems to be 50% off the regular retail price is cheap because it’s cheap. It’s not on sale. You’re getting precisely what you pay for, and chances are good that this designer item will fall apart in a matter of time.

Items are imperfect

Another of the issues I have with outlet store shopping is the fact that many items in outlet stores are shipped there because they were from a batch of mistakes when they were made. For example, I have noticed that while I have no problem at all buying my kids little designer outfits that are from outlets, their sizing in outlet stores is so far off the sizes they wear when I buy their items in department stores or boutiques.

For example, I can buy my 2-year-old twins Ralph Lauren clothes at department stores in the correct size. My son is in 24 months and my daughter in 18 month items. However, when we go into the Ralph Lauren outlet, I can pick up a 6-9 month dress for my little girl and it’s huge. It’s bigger than her actual 18-month items. The same goes for my son. He’s in regularly sized 24 month clothes but at the outlet he can wear a 9-month polo or a 3T polo from the same rack.

Princes at outlets are not worth the money

When you think of the scenario above regarding me and my friend, you might think that she got the better end of the deal purchasing the same bag (minus the higher-end finishes and materials) at the outlet store for a third of what my husband paid for mine. She might have, and that’s fine. However, I can trust that might will last forever and will not fall apart. That means my investment is probably wiser since in a decade I can still carry my bag and it will still look brand new. My girlfriend, on the other hand, has already complained that her stitching is beginning to fall apart. Her investment is only a few months old; so it’s not all that wise.

Sometimes walking into an outlet store makes you feel as if you have to spend money because everything looks like a bargain. Suddenly, a $90 wallet looks great because it’s 50% off the retail price and you feel that you’re getting a good deal. When you don’t take the time to realize that this was an item that was either imperfect or one that was made specifically for the outlet, it’s no longer something that seems so worthwhile.

Your best bet for finding designer goods on sale is to wait for them to go on sale at your favorite department store. When you stick with timeless classics, you can be sure they will not be out of style by the time next season rolls around, and they’re a guaranteed great value.

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