Secrets of a Stylist: Shopping Off Price Stores

We all love getting a deal, no? The excitement, the bragging rights, the feeling that you cheated the system.... This is why stores like Hautelook, TJ Maxx, and outlet malls have all done so incredibly well. The hunt for treasures can be exhilarating!! Why I am writing this post to warn you about these stores and websites? Because sometimes if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.  There are some things you may not realize about these off-price stores. After twenty plus years in the fashion industry I have learned lots of insider secrets that I'd love to share with you (you are so lucky.)

One of the secrets to getting these "deals" is knowing HOW these stores get their merchandise. Though there are many ways they acquire product, to follow are five possibilities:

1. Out of season merchandise that didn't sell in stores.
 Stores like Express, Nordstrom and Macy's have to get rid of the sale items that aren't moving off their sales floors, right? To do this, they sell items to jobbers who then sell to the off-price stores.
 You can see this as a negative or a positive. Do you care if it is last year's model and It did not fly out the door in-season?
Quality isn't an issue in this case, you are still getting a good price for a quality item. The only negative would be if YOU want current designer merchandise.

2. Designers sell items to off-price outlets that they have left over for one reason or another.
There are a variety of reasons this happens, but it is a win-win for the consumer.
You are getting your hands on current season, first quality products for less. Yay you!!

3. The merchandise is made for the off-price store
 This one happens all the time!!! Stores will make garments and accessories at a lower quality standard to sell in these stores. You see this A LOT in factory/outlets. So, yes, you are getting something for less. You are also getting what you pay for, not a "bargain".  If you just want the brand name and you aren't concerned about the "deal" or  about getting top quality this works for you.

4. The items are "seconds" a.k.a. with a flaw of some sort
 Clothing that isn't the quality that the designer and/or manufacturer is willing to send out to stores will frequently be sold in off-price stores.  As long you realize this about the garment and it can be repaired, or you are okay with the flaw, go for it!

5. Stores are closing
A store may be going out of business. Instead of having months of "Going Out of Business" sales, the store will sell their inventory to off-price stores. In this case you are also getting first quality, current-season merchandise.

Considering these secrets, I don't think there is anything wrong with how the off-price stores do their acquiring of goods. I personally love these stores and I shop them daily. I just believe that you, as a consumer, should be informed as to what you are actually purchasing:) My job as a stylist is to educate you.

If you have more questions about these stores or any others please feel free to ask!


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