This story aired on Great Day Houston on KHOU on August 6, 2013. A video of the story and all the tips and items in the segment are listed below. Thank you to the San Marcos Visitor’s Bureau for making this story possible.
A good value is not necessarily the cheapest item. Cheap is just finding a low price. Value is finding a balance between price and quality. The San Marcos Visitor’s Bureau invited me to the San Marcos outlets to check out their stores and do some back to school shopping. I got some really good deals and I learned a lot about outlet shopping! Here’s what I discovered:
All outlet stores (also called factory stores, company stores, last call stores) aren’t created equal
- Back in the day, outlet stores were created to sell irregular pieces and factory seconds. Now, outlet stores carry first quality products.
- Every outlet store is different. Some outlets carry premium retail merchandise left over on sale racks, past seasons and surplus merchandise.
- Other outlet stores carry totally different merchandise that is made specifically for their outlet stores. Stores say these products have the same quality as and regular retail merchandise, but some shoppers don’t agree.
- Some stores in outlet malls just carry regular merchandise at regular prices.
- I found lots of outlet stores that carried premium quality products in the San Marcos outlets.
- Ask: what kind of merchandise each store carries?
Outlet Stores Are Name Brand Stores, Not Discount Stores
- You won’t find the cheapest generic clothing here. You will find Name Brand merchandise at much lower prices than at retail stores.
There Are Lots Of Ways To Save Money At Outlets
- Outlet mall VIP shopper programs (online) give you access to special cupons and insider sale info.
- Always get the mall coupon books. (These books usually cost $5 and The San Marcos CVB has a vouch to get the coupon book for free).
- Check the outlet malls’ website for each stores deals and sales (Check San Marcos CVB website for links to the outlet malls)
- Many outlet stores run periodic sales for 30, 50 or even 75% more off everything in the store.
- This weekend for tax-free weekend, the San Marcos Tanger outlets have an extra 20% off.
- At checkout, ask: Is there a way to save any more?
Getting great deals for Back To School was a balancing act. Every purchase had to meet all these criteria:
- Dress code/uniform requirements
- Reasonable Price
- Quality, especially for shoes, back packs and young children’s clothing
- Availability of sizes and fits
- Each child’s specific tastes and preferences. If kids don’t like their clothes, dressing everyday is a struggle for everyone.
- School Dress Code – sleeves must be at least 3 fingers wide, hems on skirts and shorts at least fingertip length, no cleavage.
- Outfit Retail Price : $257.28 (including shoes, jewelry and book bag)
- San Marcos Outlet Price: $120.59
- Savings: $136.69 (about 53%)
- Outlet shopping really can save money! The skirt from the Express outlet was $15 (down from $60) and the Banana Republic blouse was $20 (down from $45). Here’s what the model is wearing:
- Banana Republic blouse $44.99/$19.19 (40% store sale)
- Express skirt $59.90/$14.99 (outlet price and store sale)
- American Eagle sweater $39.95/$29.96 (25% store sale)
- American Eagle bag $39.95/$29.96 (25% store sale)
- American Eagle earrings $12.50/$7.50 (40% store sale)
- Rock and Candy wedges $59.99/$18.99 (outlet price and 5% customer loyalty program)
- School Dress Code – same.
- Outfit Retail Price: $203.55 (including sneakers and back pack)
- San Marcos Outlet Price: $121.52
- Savings: $88.03, about 43%
- Outlet shopping makes name brands more affordable. If your child loves Justice or Reebock, but those brands don’t usually fit into the budget, Outlets may make them accessible. We got her Reebok sneakers for $30 and saved 40% on her outfit from Justice.
- Justice leggings $44.90/$26.94 (40% store sale)
- Justice shirt $29.90/$17.94 (40% store sale)
- Justice t-shirt $17.90/$10.74 (40% store sale)
- Children’s place headband $4.95/$2.39 (outlet price plus coupon)
- Reebok sneakers $50/$29.97 (outlet price)
- Justice backpack $55.90/$33.54 (40% store sale)
- School Uniform (red, white or blue polo shirts, blue or khaki pants or jeans)
- Outfit Retail Price: $179.99
- San Marcos Outlet Price: $123.79
- Savings: $56.20, about 31%
- This whole uniform is made with durable Tommy Hilfiger clothing. The jacket is lined with flannel and versatile bacause goes with every school uniform shirt color. He can wear it every day and it is made to last. The sneakers and back pack will stand up to daily kid wear and tear. This outfit costs a little more, but you’ll need fewer pieces because they are so durable.
- Tommy Hilfiger flannel jacket $42/$33.60 (outlet price)
- Tommy Hilfiger polo $26/$15.60 (outlet price)
- The Gap jeans $24.99/$17.49 (30% store sale)
- Tommy Hilfiger back pack $32
- Vans Sneakers $55/$34.97 (outlet price)
- School Dress Code – Same as models 1 and 2
- Outfit Retail: $290.99 (including shoes, purse and jewelry)
- San Marcos Outlet price: $113.39
- Savings: $177.60, about 62%
- We used lots or avenues of savings: outlet pricing, store sales, customer loyalty program and a VIP shopper coupon. At check out, always ask if there’s another way to save.
- Kenneth Cole top $58/$25 (store sale)
- Kenneth Cole jeans $88/$20 (store sale)
- Kenneth Cole purse $45/$20 (store sale)
- American Eagle Necklace $17.50/$10.50 (40% store sale)
- American Eagle earrings $12.50/$7.50 (40% store sale)
- Steve Madden Shoes $69.99/$30.39 (outlet price, plus 5% customer loyalty program, plus 20% mall coupon)
- Dress Code – same as Model 1,2, and 4)
- Outfit Retail: $116.88
- San Marcos Outlet price: $60.33
- Savings: $56.55, about 48%
- Overall, I saved 50% or more by shopping at the outlets. This outfit came from lots of different stores. An advantage to outlet malls is that there are lots of stores all in one place. Outlet stores also had a full range of sizes. Availability of sizes can be hit or miss in discount stores.
- Gymboree t-shirt $13.99/$8.99 (outlet price)
- Gymboree cargo shorts $18.99/$13.99 (outlet price)
- Children’s place hoodie $29.95/$16.77 (outlet price plus coupon)
- Children’s place lunch box $8.95/$5.59 (outlet price plus coupon)
- Van’s Sneakers $45/$14.99 (outlet price plus sale)
If you want to turn your shopping trip into a family getaway weekend, there are lots of other family attractions in San Marcos – shopping, tubing, Aquarena glass bottom boats, Wimberly Glass Works, caves, bed and breakfasts and more. Check out TourSanMarcos.com for more info and coupons.