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There are three kinds of outlet stores, and knowing the difference will help you avoid getting ripped off at outlets.
Factory stores like Gap, Banana Republic, and Express sell items that are exclusively made-for-outlet. You won’t find regular retail in these stores.
Retailers like Famous Footwear, Bath & Body Works and Old Navy place full-line retail stores into outlet malls, hoping you’ll think they’re outlet stores.
But the real gold is finding an outlet store that offers last year’s looks or discontinued styles along with overstock. Here’s a list of those stores:
1. L.L.Bean Outlet: Up to 50% off.
You can walk into L.L.Bean’s outlet and buy anything, knowing you’re getting something that was once sold in a retail store.
Save up to 50% on discontinued and overstocked items. Outlets are located in East Coast states like Maine, Connecticut, and New York.
2. The North Face Outlet: Up to 50% off
The North Face Outlet offers discontinued styles, factory “seconds” (minimally irregular or damaged items) and overstock items.
They also sell made-for-outlet items, which tend to be lower quality and were never sold in a retail store.
3. Pendleton Outlet: Up to 60% off.
Save up to 60% on Pendleton items like woolen blankets and accessories.
You’ll have to visit one of the 20 Pendleton outlets in the U.S. for these savings — you can’t get outlet merchandise online.
4. Nike Factory Store: Up to 70% off.
At the Nike Factory Store, you’ll find made-for-outlet items similar to other “Factory” stores. But you can also find discontinued and out-of-season products, too.
You’ll find the best deals on the Hash Wall (Nike’s glorious clearance section), because shoes are often offered at an additional percent-off already low clearance price.
5. Coldwater Creek Outlet Online: Up to 50% off.
Coldwater Creek doesn’t have a stand-alone outlet store, but they have an outlet section online where you can save up to 50% on out-of-season or discontinued styles.
Depending on the item, your savings may be even greater. For example, this white blouse is more like 57% off, compared to its original price.
6. REI Outlet Online: Up to 60% off.
REI’s online outlet has items purchased from manufacturers like Marmot, Camelbak, etc., specifically for the outlet, but they’re not “made for outlet” items — they’re last year’s styles.
You don’t have to be an REI Co-op member to shop the online outlet either!
7. Amazon Outlet: Up to 50% off.
There are 20 categories to shop on Amazon’s Outlet, an online bargain-shopping hotspot.
Amazon Outlet sells mostly overstock merchandise, but there are also some general markdowns (up to 50% off) on merchandise Amazon sells on the main portion of the website.
Look for discounts on brands like Adidas, Carter’s, Crocs, Tommy Hilfiger and Guess.