polo t shirts men Nebraska Crossing Outlets opens Friday
In the movie “Legally Blonde,” Reese Witherspoon, who plays law student Elle Woods, is chided by a fashion savvy male for sporting a pair of last year’s heels: “Don’t stomp your little last season Prada shoes at me, honey,” he tells her derisively.
Now, now. What’s so terrible about wearing shoes that aren’t quite up to the minute, particularly if they’re cute, you love them, and you picked them up for a deep discount at an outlet mall?
“There’s nothing wrong with that at all! We work in fashion. It’s still a good product,” said Draeger, who, like many of her clients, is hoping to find beaucoup de bargains when Nebraska Crossing Outlets opens Friday.
Beginning that day, Omaha area residents and others will be able to shop at more than 60 outlet and factory stores including Coach, Borsheims Boutique, Kate Spade New York, Nike, Gap, Rack Room Shoes and Kitchen Collection without putting hundreds of miles on the odometer. at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Highways 6 and 31.
With the countdown clock ticking, many would be outlet shoppers are asking: What kind of merchandise do outlet stores carry? Will I find last season’s shoes at a deep discount? Will there be in season products: sweaters in the winter, shorts in summer? Are some products made only for sale at the retailer’s outlet or factory store? And the big, big question: Will those items be less expensive than their full price counterparts?
It’s been tough for Omaha area consumers to comparison shop, considering that the nearest large scale outlet malls are in Kansas City, Kan., a 180 mile one way trip, and Williamsburg, Iowa, a 220 mile one way jaunt.
Here’s what we know so far: All the Nebraska Crossing stores will be outlet sometimes called factory stores off price or value priced retail stores. But, depending on the retailer, that description can cover a lot of territory. The Old Navy store will be like other Old Navy stores but likely offer more discounts and sales because of its outlet location, the center’s management said.
Some retailers may offer last season’s fashions at a discount along with a selection of products made specifically for their outlet stores it all depends on the brand, according to the most recent Consumer Reports survey of outlet mall goods.
“It’s no secret that many retailers make a line that is specifically designed to be sold at their outlet stores,” said Linda Humphers, editor in chief of Value Retail News, a trade publication of the International Council of Shopping Centers.
But that doesn’t meant the made for outlet merchandise is low quality. “It’s not going to be schlock,” Humphers said. Retailers don’t want to damage the store’s image by selling shoddy goods at their outlet store.
More than 300 retailers, including many luxury brands, operate outlet divisions.
“We don’t know what percentage of a retailer’s merchandise is made for outlets. But almost every chain has something made for outlets,” Humphers said. “If you’re not sure whether an item is a made for outlet product, ask. Ask the salespeople.”
Retailers view their outlet divisions as a lower priced entry point for shoppers, with the hope that consumers will “like the brand” and be motivated to shop at the full price store, Humphers said. In the Omaha area, it’s thought that many new to Nebraska retailers are testing the waters by opening an outlet, Humphers said. “If the outlet does well,
they may think about opening a full price store.”
At Coach Factory stores, the majority “of the product line is specific to the outlet stores perhaps last year’s style in this year’s fabric,” said Jeffrey Edelman, director of retail services and consumer products advisory services for McGladrey LLP, a consulting firm.
The made for Coach outlet handbag may have fewer pockets or embellishments and be made from less expensive materials than its full price counterpart.
And that’s fine with Draeger: “The variety of prices is nice and you’ll still get the brand.”
The Gap outlets and Eddie Bauer outlets also adhere to a similar strategy as Coach, offering a large selection of merchandise made specifically to sell at their outlet stores, retail analysts say.
Kim Loretta, manager of the new Eddie Bauer outlet at Nebraska Crossing, described it this way: “Most of the products at our outlet store are specifically made for the outlet stores.”
Those products, including men’s and women’s apparel and gear, have the same “active, outdoor feel” that characterizes the brand “but at a lower price point,” Loretta said.
What that might mean is the brand will retain it’s familiar style or signature, though there may be differences in the styling or fabric instead of the full price silk version, you may find its cotton cousin.
Garment construction also may differ. A man’s dress shirt may have fewer stitches per inch or fewer buttonholes than the full price style, said David Ober, president of the Council of Developers of Outlet Centers Retailers.
“Outlet goods are designed to sell for less than retail goods, so don’t assume they’re exact copies,” Consumer Reports said. “The regular retail items were usually a trifle better because of construction details or better materials. But in most cases, the outlet versions were fine.”
The upshot? “Your experience may depend on how hard you are on clothes, how finicky you are about styling, or how happy you are saving money,” Consumer Reports concluded.
For many shoppers, minor differences in the stitching, fabric or detailing aren’t an issue, Ober said.
“You get what you pay for, but I think the quality can be just as good,” said Draeger, who recently visited Legends Outlets at Kansas City. “I bought a pair of workout pants at the Under Armour outlet store a couple weeks ago and saw a pair that was full price at another store. I got a deal, they were the same quality.”
“If you walk into Michael Kors, everything is Michael Kors,” Ober said. For shoppers who want to quiz the staff about a particular item or design, that’s a plus, Ober said. “Because that’s the only brand they carry, they’ll know everything about it,” Ober said.
Christopher Brown, the national project manager for Corningware Corelle More, was helping set up the retailer’s new Nebraska Crossing store last week. Brown said the Corningware outlet will carry the brands of World Kitchen, Corningware’s parent company, a list that includes Corningware, Corelle, Pyrex, Snapware, Chicago Cutlery, Baker’s Secret, Olfa and Visions.