San Marcos Like a Local

Outlet Shopping - Insider Secrets

December 11, 2013

Just in time for the holidays! Check out this great blog feature on getting the most bang for your buck during your outlet shopping experience. Words and images courtesy of image coach and TV beauty expert Sarah Shah.

This story began airing on the LiveWell HD Network on October 25, 2013. The story was shot at the San Marcos Outlets (the Biggest Outlet Mall in the US), in San Marcos, Texas. 

  

Shana’s Deals 

  • Gucci bag (Abby Hobo), Retail $975, outlet price $489 (this bag is from the Fall 2013 collection and just arrived in the store a few days before we ambushed Shana). She saved 50%.
  • Gucci runway shoes (Delphine), Retail $805, outlet markdown price $219. She saved $586 and 73%.

Sarah’s Insider Shopping Tip: Luxury outlets have amazing customer service. Call them with your wish list and they will call you and email you photos when the items you want come in. They do more sales with their customers AFTER they leave the store, in repeat sales. When we were in the Gucci outlet, there were only a few customers in the store, but all the sales associates were working non-stop either working with the live customers or taking pictures of items and emailing them to off-site customers.

  • 2B (Bebe outlet) fascinator headband, Retail $25, final price $0. Here’s how it broke down – outlet price $16, clearance markdown to $7.99, special of the day discount took an additional 50%-off the clearance to reduce the price down to $3.99. She was already a member of their customer loyalty program and applied points she had accrued on past purchases to the total. In the end, she paid $0 and essentially got it for free! She saved 100%!

Sarah’s Insider Shopping Tip: Ask if there are any other ways to save. Some stores have additional ways to save such as customer loyalty programs, discounts for military service personnel, students, seniors, secret in-store coupons. These extras can save you a lot more.




Renae’s Deals

  • Etro dress, Retail $1,510, outlet markdown price $219 (outlet price was 50%-off and then all spring and summer pieces were an additional 70%-off). She saved $1291 and 85%!

Sarah’s Insider Shopping Tip: Luxury outlets have a sale schedule and always slash prices at major holidays and end of season. Call ahead to find out when sales begin and what items are included. On the other hand, most moderately priced name brands keep their sales schedules secret, to keep you coming in over and over to chase the deals.

  • Frye boots from Neiman Marcus Last Call, Retail $350, outlet price after markdowns $65. She saved $285 and 82%!

Sarah’s Insider Shopping Tip: Sometimes you have to dig through a lot of merchandise to find your deal. Clearance bins can be intimidating, but if you are patient and take time to pick through the items, you often find some really great deals.

  • Diane VonFurstenberg shoes, Retail $298, outlet clearance price $50. She saved $248, an 83% savings!

Sarah’s Insider Shopping Tip: Ask sales the associate to show you the best deal in the store. They know their merchandise best and can lead you to the hidden deals.




Grace’s Deals:

  • Red Milly handbag, Retail $459, after several markdowns, the final Outlet price was $89. She saved $370 and 81%!

Sarah’s Insider Shopping Tip: When an item has been through several markdowns, check the condition before you buy it. Look for scuffs, stains, loose seams, missing buttons or beads. Make sure the item is in good condition or you can fix the damage easily and inexpensively.

  • Coach IPad case, Retail $198, final price $59. Grace called Regina to share the deal so she could get it too.

Sarah’s Insider Shopping tip: Tag-Team with a friend. Shopping with a friend helps you cover more ground and sniff out the really great deals. You can both look for the items you want and update each other when you score a deal.

Regina’s deals:

  • Capri pants from New York & Co., Retail $40, final outlet price after sale and discounts was $12. Saved $28 and 63%

Sarah’s Insider Shopping Tip: Ask if there’s any way the store can give you an additional discount. The store gave Regina an additional 15% off just because she asked.

  • Coach wallet, Retail $168, final outlet price $40. Here’s how it broke down: outlet price $150, on clearance at 50%-off, store special additional 30%-off all clearance items plus 50%-off from an in-store coupon

Sarah’s Insider Shopping Tip: Bring a calculator so you can calculate all your savings. Sometimes the sales associates get mixed up applying all the discounts and can come up with the wrong total. Use your calculator to confirm you are getting the right price.

Felicia & Sydney’s Deals:

  • Two pairs of Nine West shoes: Retail $160, outlet price $72 for 2 pairs of shoes. Mom and daughter combined their shoe purchases to take advantage of the buy one, get one ½ price sale and then applied their coupons to the combined total.

Sarah’s Insider Shopping Tip: Team-up with a friend and combine your purchases. You can take advantage of bigger savings with buy-one-get-one-free deals or qualify to use coupons that require bigger purchases. (example: get 25%-off a $100 purchase)

  • Two pairs of New York and Company jeans, Price $90, final price $45. Jeans were buy one get one free, so she got 2 pairs for the price of one.

Sarah’s Insider Shopping  Tip: Double-up to get the most for your money. If there’s a buy one get one free, get a second one for yourself, a friend, a gift or to donate to a homeless shelter.

More Outlet Shopping Tips

When working with my clients, I look for great values. A good value is not necessarily the cheapest item. Cheap is just finding a low price. Value is finding a balance between price and quality.

I went to the Outlets in San Marcos to investigate the outlets and see if there are really any good deals there. I found some really good deals and I learned a lot about outlet shopping! Here’s what I discovered:

  1. Back in the day, outlet stores were created to sell irregular items and factory seconds. Now, outlet stores carry first quality products.
  2. There are many names for outlet stores. They can also be called factory stores, company stores, warehouse stores, last calls.
  3. Always Ask each outlet store what kind of merchandise they carry.
  4. Every outlet store is different. Some outlets carry premium retail merchandise left over on sale racks, past seasons and surplus merchandise.
    • Other outlet stores carry totally different merchandise that is made just for their outlet stores. Stores say these products have the same quality as regular retail merchandise, but some shoppers don’t agree.
    • Some stores in outlet malls aren’t outlet stores and just carry regular merchandise at regular prices.
    • Check tags and labels. Each tag and label will give you clues about whether the merchandise is the brand’s regular retail merchandise or whether is it “made-for-outlet” merchandise. i.e. The Gap label for “made-for-outlet” merchandise has 3 dots just below “The Gap,” while regular retail merchandise has no dots. Coldwater Creek label for “made-for-outlet” merchandise has a leaf just below “Coldwater Creek” while regular retail merchandise has no leaf. (I emailed 2 photos for this tip).
  5. Somethings at an outlet are a good deal, and somethings aren’t. Use your smart phone ore tablet to check the going rate and see how good your deal is. Search for the item in general, then by image, then in the “shopping” feature to see what prices you find.
  6. It’s safer to buy from a luxury outlet than from online source because you know that it is genuine. And that can give you a lot of piece of mind.
  7. If you like it, get it! It might not be there when you come back in a few hours.
    • You can put items on hold at outlet stores. If you aren’t sure about a purchase, most outlet stores let you put an item on hold for a couple hours or until the end of the day.
    • Ask each store about their return policy. Most outlet stores allow full refunds with a receipt for 30 to 90 days from purchase. Some are final sale and no returns are allowed.
  8. Outlet stores are Name Brand stores. You won’t find the cheapest generic items here. But you will find name brand merchandise at much lower prices than at retail stores.
  9. Outlet stores have a wider range of sizes and styles than most discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
  10. Outlet stores accept coupons. And there are lot’s of coupons available. Use them all together for bigger savings.
    • Get outlet mall coupons from the San Marcos Convention and Visitor Bureau
    • Outlet mall coupon books have coupons for different stores in the mall and nearby attractions.
    • Join outlet mall VIP shopper programs (online) for special coupons and insider sale info. Check the outlet mall’s website for a rundown of current deals and additional coupons for each store.
  11. Many outlet stores run periodic sales for 30, 50 or even 75% more off everything in the store.
  12. At special times of the year (like tax-free weekend) the whole mall will offer an extra savings like an extra 20% off everything.
  13. Outlet stores have sales – outlet stores have periodic store-wide sales for 30, 40, 50 or even 70% off everything in the store.
  14. Always ask if there’s another way to save. Some outlet stores have in-store coupons, loyalty programs, points, daily specials, discounts for students or military, or other ways to save.
  15. The rarer the outlet, the better the deals. Outlets that are available in every city may not have deals that are as good.
    • For instance, there are only five Gucci outlets in the US (one is in San Marcos). These stores have some really great deals.
    • There is only one Uggs Australia outlet in the central US (in San Marcos). Uggs Retail stores never have sales. The only place to get Uggs on sale is in the outlet store.
  16. Outlet stores carry current season merchandise. Items are delivered and restocked daily from many sources, so it’s not just past season merchandise.
  17. Malls can be busy on weekends. To beat the crowds and get first pick at merchandise, the best time to shop is early in the morning on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  18. Many outlet malls are big and outdoors. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes!
  19. Bring snacks. It’s easy to get mesmerized by the deals and loose track of time at an outlet mall. Bring snacks and water to keep up your energy!
  20. Outlet malls are big and bathrooms can be hard to find. Get a map and use bathrooms when you see them!

For more information about the San Marcos Outlet Malls, contact the San Marcos Convention And Visitor Bureau: http://www.toursanmarcos.com/

What’s Sarah Wearing? 

Diane Von Furstenberg shift dress (DVF outlet store, Retail $298, marked down to $149) and Kenneth Cole platform wedge sandals.