It may not be the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything (which is 42 anyway), but tips on shopping at outlet malls are useful. And that’s what I strive for around here! Usefulness! And world domination.
Start your trip online first. Go to the mall’s website and look for email newsletters and VIP Clubs, or other “members only” options you can join. For example, both the Albertville Mall and North Branch Outlets offer VIP programs.
Albertville’s program is free to join. With your membership, you’ll receive a voucher for their VIP coupon book, as well as additional coupons.
North Branch’s VIP program costs $10 to join, but you’ll get a $10 birthday gift card and coupon books every time you shop.
Also look online for mall-wide sales events or special sale days at particular stores. For example, Albertville has their big Back to School and Fall Preview event August 2nd through the 6th. And here’s a deal for seniors –get 10% off your purchases every Tuesday at participating stores at Albertville.
Look for coupons, both online and on your smart phone. For instance, North Branch’s mall has online coupons you can download from their website. Plus, coupon apps like Coupon Sherpa often have outlet mall specific coupons. I found one for the Gap Outlet and one for Reebok Outlet just this week.
Shop at the right time. Week days are best, because it’s less crowded, so you’ll have access to the best items. Plus the stores are tidier and it’s easier to find things. If you have to go on the weekend, try 10 AM to noon or 6 to 9 PM, the slowest weekend hours.
As for the time of year, try to shop AFTER regular retailers get their latest seasonal items in store. Which is why right now is the perfect time to shop – in a week or two, stores will start getting their Fall gear and thus? Will need to get rid of their summer items are the closest outlet mall.
1. Just because it’s at an outlet, doesn’t mean it’s cheap. Remember, brand names are, by their nature, more expensive. You’ll want to look for the on-sale items at an outlet mall, just like you would at a regular retailer. Otherwise, you’re still paying too much for the brand name.
2. Double-check before you buy. Some of the merchandise at an outlet is damaged or irregular, so look for flaws. Some items are made specifically for the outlet, and have never appeared in the regular stores. When in doubt, ask a store manager for the details.
Also check the return policy by store. Different sellers will have different policies, and you want to know if you can return an item (and how) before you buy it.
One Last Tip: If you live in the Cities, and you want to go to a convenient outlet where the prices are always 70 to 80% off retail, check out Opitz Outlet in St. Louis Park. Log on to their website and sign up for their email newsletter for sales event information, and their rewards program for additional discounts.
Now it’s time for you to chime…in. What are your insider tips on shopping outlet malls?