I love to shop and even more so to shop for bargain. Like getting Coach bag regularly priced at $295.00 for $99.00; Michael Kors jacket regularly priced at $139 for $35.00; Prada sunglasses regularly priced at $250 for $35.00. I am talking about authentic brandname stuff here. Where do I find these great bargain? . . . Outlet stores of course.
Outlet stores come in many forms. I frequent Loehmann's and Nordstrom rack 'cos they're in the city and more convenient for me. Then there is the Great Mall of the Bay Area which is located in Milpitas. Great Mall is a covered mall with both outlet and regular stores. It will take me days to go through all the stores in that mall.
Now let's talk about the "offical" outlet malls. There are 4 of them around San Francisco: Napa, Petaluma, Vacaville and Gilroy. My favorite one is Petaluma. It's a good size for me to finish it in a day but still can cover most of my favorite stores. If you like Coach's signature styles then this is the one you should go to as it has more selection of Coach's signature bags at outlet prices. In addition, it's not located along major freeway or tourist attraction like the other 3 so it's not as crowded on weekends.
Tips for getting best of the best bargain at outlet mall:
1. Join their VIP program. Signup VIP membership at Loehmann's and Premium Outlets. You'll get e-mail regarding additional discount. You can also print out additional discount coupons on their sites. Do that the night before you go to the mall. Many of these discounts can be applied to sale items.
2. Plan ahead. You won't be able cover all the stores.
3. Go during long weekends. Outlet malls usually have sidewalk sale or offer additional discount on long weekends. Try to avoid Thanksgiving weekend though 'cos it'll be super packed without much additional discount (unless you line up hours before midnight madness starts in freezing cold temperature, you may be lucky to get something with good discount to justify your wait).
4. Go on weekdays if possible. You'll feel that you have the mall all by yourself and no need to wait for fitting rooms.
5. Last but not least. Know your limit. Buy something something that you like and fit you. If you can't find anything that day, so be it. Treat it as a workout exercise instead.