Several cities in the U.S. are known for their outlet stores. If you’re looking for big-time outlet shopping, Gettysburg PA, Las Vegas NV and Branson MO are just some of the destinations you may want to hit. A website called OutletBound is a good guide for a wider variety of outlet stores, outlet malls, and anything else an outlet shopper would want to know about.
Outlets are big business. That wasn’t always the case, though. They started off small, in the 1930s, when factory stores would sell damaged or excess goods to their employees at a discount. They eventually opened it up to non-employees, and in 1936, the first “outlet store” opened, with the intent to sell off merchandise that they had too many of, were no longer in season, and/or were “seconds.”
Until the mid-70s, that’s all outlets were – storefronts that were used as a way for factories to get rid of merchandise that would be otherwise difficult to sell. In 1974, the first multi-store outlet center opened (in Reading, PA) and it’s just exploded from there.
Over the decades, with the popularity of outlets so high, they’ve morphed from just selling seconds and overstock to some of that plus a whole lot of items specifically made to be sold in outlets. However, those items are oftentimes purposely made more cheaply, so they can still be sold at “outlet prices,” which are usually sold at a discount. So the stitching on the seams of a shirt might not be as finished as what they sell in their regular stores (and come loose after a few washings). A towel made for the outlet might be thinner than what you’d find in Macy’s. Or the wheels on that rolling luggage might only have 4 bolts holding each wheel on, instead of 6 (and you discover at the luggage carousel that one of the wheels has fallen off just as you’re starting your 2-week, multi-city trip in Japan).
Here are some ways to know:
Look for the word “factory” under the name, on the label. Those are “made for outlet” items.
Stuff made specifically for the outlets will have three small diamonds under the brand name on the label.
If the label has the number 346 on it, it’s specifically made for the outlet.
Look at the tag for these. Items made for the outlets have a serial number that starts with the letter F.
The Gap, Gap Kids & Baby Gap
Labels on the outlet clothes have three small squares below the brand name.
Like Banana Republic, items made specifically for the outlets will have two small diamonds under the label’s brand name.
Outlet clothing has an embroidered spade above the label name. The stitching on the tag is also greenish instead of gold.
For their bags and wallets from the outlet, the spade logo is a square with a hollowed-out spade in the middle or a stamped spade (the “good stuff” is just the spade logo, no square around it). Their purses also will not have protective metal feet at the bottom.
The interior of bags made for the outlets look very different from the “good stuff.” The made for factory bags (MFF) repeat a different logo in their interior that spells out “Michael KORS.” The “good” bags repeat the classic “MK” logo.
The “good stuff” will always be on the clearance rack at the outlets. Anything stocks in significant quantity were made for the outlet.
Their method is similar to Coach. Pieces made for outlets have the letter Y in front of the style number on the tag.
It’s all about the brand name. “Chaps,” “Lauren by Ralph Lauren” and “Polo Ralph Lauren” are made for outlets and lower-end stores such as Kohl’s.
If you’re not sure, ask
You may not know if those Nikes are made for the outlet or not, but the people who work at the outlet definitely do (or at least should LOL). Ask.
Parting words: be aware
Multiple consumer references say that roughly 80 to 90% of clothing found at outlets is made specifically for outlets. Granted, some people might not mind paying a lesser price for less quality, but others would rather know if that ski parka they’re buying is just leftover from last year vs. made like crap. If you’re in the latter group, be aware.
References: The Krazy Coupon Lady, Styleforum, Consumer Reports
Want to comment on this post? Great! Read this first to help ensure it gets approved.
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and get emailed notifications of when we post. Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group – we have 17,000+ members and we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary