Part of my job involves meeting infrequently with publishers' reps trying to interest me in their textbooks. One, who often liked the way I dressed, told me about this store years ago when she learned that I liked to thrift. The store is housed in a building off the frontage road of an interstate highway and is pretty unpretentious. I waited until a Wednesday to visit, having learned from their web-site that this is when new merchandise is rolled out. The store offers "customers the best department store and mall store brands on current merchandise at the best possible prices, usually 1/2 of 1/2 of retail."
As I entered, I truly did not know whether to be overjoyed by all the bargains as far as the eye could see or to be dismayed by rack after rack of clothing packed so tightly it could not breathe. DH was with me and I could tell that he was dismayed by what he saw...as he knows how long my "window shopping visits" can take. He did browse through the men's clothing (always looking for classic Levi's with double stitching on the seams). I decided to start with the perimeter of the store and then focus in on the center display, where the bargains of the day were located.
Immediately, I was impressed by the numbers of Anne Taylor items I found. And, by the numbers of crisp white blouses, the bane of a thrifter's existence. (I will return here next time I'm in the market for a white, white blouse.) Much of this merchandise would be items that customers have previously bought and returned. Sometimes, the merchandise is returned because of a defect, and just as in a thrift store, it is necessary to inspect carefully for the flaws. Some of the items are easily reparable; their website even includes basic instructions for some repairs. But, many items that customers return are without a defect. We all know that sometimes an item doesn't fit quite the way we imagined it did in the store OR we spent too much on a shopping trip.
Additionally, the store includes items that have been shoplifted and catalogue buyouts. The video above shows you the wide range of merchandise--from Sonoma to Chadwicks, Anne Taylor, Talbotts, Lane Bryant, Caslon, BCBG, Free People, Soft Surroundings, and even, St. Johns. And I actually purchased something for a change, a front closure, crossed strap bra of good quality for $8.
As I shopped, I found myself reflecting on how much of our shopping experience (and the price) is shaped by the surroundings one shops in. The shoppers were absorbed in their shopping (one spoke an animated language I did not recognize) and many seemed to be old hands at this type of shopping. Their carts were full of merchandise perhaps taking advantage of "preferred customer" status or just the bargain of the day.
This is where unwanted department store merchandise goes to die...and as I departed after 90 minutes in the store, I did not know whether to laugh or cry. It's an ideal way to shop for those who are wary of thrift stores; the prices are better or similar. But I was haunted by a vision of the seamstresses who had constructed these pieces--a warehouse full.
Is there a store of this type in your area? And have you shopped there?