How to Handbag Shop at an Outlet

It’s March, officially the start of Spring. Time to start hearing birds chirping, warmer mornings for runs, and go to outlets to score some amaze-ballz deals. While outlets can provide a great way to get a last season handbag you had your heart set on, they can also become a major money trap if you aren’t careful. Recently, I made my bi-weekly bi-annual visit to Woodbury Commons and had a chance to scratch my new handbag itch. Below are my tips on how to outlet shop for bags and how I got decided on my new handbag.

1. Beware of “Made for Outlet” Bags

So there are several important things to come to terms with when shopping for an outlet bag. The first is that you probably aren’t buying a irregular or overstocked item but rather a made for outlet bag. This means the bag was likely made using lesser quality materials and that discount you’re getting isn’t quite as great as you think. That said, if you love the bag buy the damn bag. One of my favorite purses was a Coach Factory hobo bag (it died in a tragic perfume leaking  accident – RIP).

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While my deceased Coach bag served me well, I have found that other name brand outlets do really have a tragic lack in quality. If you feel the leather on an outlet Kate Spade or Michael Kors bag you can definitely tell the quality is not there.On the flip side if you look hard enough there are brands that do have legitimate outlets. For example the Celine Outlet does have real last season Celine bags and as a result the prices aren’t as good (you’re looking at a flat 30% discount and the Box Bag will never be there).  To help you out on your next trip, I’ve made up this quick little chart to help you determine where you may or may not want to shop. (Note anything with an * I’m saying that the “yes” could be questionable).

Brand Bags Made for Outlet
Balenciaga Mixed
Barney’sWarehouse Mixed
Burberry Yes*
Celine No
Chole Mixed
Coach Yes
Dior No
Gucci Yes*
Kate Spade Yes
Micheal Kors Yes
Nieman Marcus Last Call Clearance Centers No
Nieman Marcus Last Call Studio Yes
Nordstrom Rack Mixed
Prada Yes*
Saks Off 5th Mixed
Tory Burch Yes

Crazy how many are made for outlets right?

2. Get that Coupon Book

While most outlets will have great in store sales, you are literally setting your money on fire if you don’t check for a coupon first. Most outlets (especially Simon owned outlets) have a VIP club you can sign up for and get a coupon book from guest services when you go. It’s all free and just give them a junk email  if you don’t want the outlet email spam. This coupon book doesn’t always have the best deals ever but every dollar counts especially if you are going to drop a ton of $$ at a store.

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My Passport to Bankruptcy

 3. Talk to the Sales Associates

I get it – you are on a mission for a deal and who the hell wants to talk to a SA? But the SAs can actually be really helpful in getting you a better deal/letting you know of up coming ones. For example after chatting with SAs from LeSportsac and Celine, I’m now on email lists for when new products come in and go on sale. They literally send me images of new bags and all I have to do is call and reserve what I would like to buy. How amazing is that/terrible for 401Ks?! Also since many of the SAs are at the outlets all the time they will know who is having the best sales (don’t assume they don’t shop there as well as work).

4. Not a Real Tip but My Outlet Purchase

Photo on 3-7-16 at 9.54 PM
Me and Phil just casually “Photo Booth-ing” please know I’m joking

After my Woodbury Commons adventure I can proudly say I own my very first Phillip Lim! I’ve been in desperate need for a brief case and after cradling this baby in my arms for about 30 minutes, I decided to take the large Pashli home with me. So here are the details on my  score (my review will come later).

  • The bag’s original price $975 (note: I could not find the OG price tag so this could be an outlet made bag)
  • The Saks Off 5th price $599 (about 38% off)
  • The Saks Off 5th VIP Coupon Discount 25% off $125 purchase or more
  • $599 – 25% off = $450 w/out tax Final price
  • Total Savings: $525 USD

Could this bag be made for outlet? Yes. Do I love it any less because it could be? No.

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