7 On Your Side:High Marks For Outlets - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

5/9/06

7 On Your Side:High Marks For Outlets

  Savvy shoppers at outlet malls know how to get great deals. "I can find whatever I need for a great price," says one shopper.
  To see what outlet stores offer these days, Consumer Reports surveyed subscribers who shop at outlets like Old Navy, Mikasa, Banana Republic, and Brooks Brothers.
  And Consumer Reports' Expert Shopper Tod Marks compared merchandise from outlets and retail stores. "In our small price study we saved an average of 26%, but 30-50% savings are pretty common across the board," says Marks.
  Can those same savings be found in East Texas? We headed west on I-20 to Tanger Outlet Center in Terrell. Besides having stores that cater to the whole family, it's the discounts that you're greeted with at the door.
  "The kitchenware stores I think are one of the most popular stores. When customers come out they find a lot of value there," says Tanger Outlet Center General Manager Lee Ann Wagner.
  At K.B. Toys, some of the most popular toys is practically a steal. "We have also 'crazy 8.' Anything ending in an 8 you get half off. Then we have our book sale, buy one get one free. We also have a '2-for' sale, 2 for 10, 2 for 20," says K.B. Toys Store Manager Alex Padilla.
  We found another way to get savings, becoming a Tanger Club member. It's only a one-time fee to sign up and each time you show your card, you get a coupon book that includes over $225 off in savings.
  As far as quality, we had Consumer Reports' Textile Engineer Pat Slaven do some analyzing. Retail store Brooks Brothers' pajamas cost $70. The outlet pajamas are $36. They look almost identical, though Pat found a few differences. "The pajamas from the outlet have both an elastic waistband and a drawstring, where the pajamas from the retail have simply a drawstring and no elastic." Leather belts from Coach are slightly different, too. "Look at the leather on this retail belt. It's very soft and supple," says Pat. The retail Coach belt is $80. The outlet version $45. While it's good quality, it's an older style. As for the Banana Republic sweaters, the retail one is $68 dollars and $30 dollars at the outlet. The retail sweater is wool and polyester with a little cashmere, while the outlet version is made of cotton jersey knit. "Rarely will you find the same goods at the outlets that you find at the full-priced stores. Nevertheless those goods are quite high in quality," says Marks. So if you haven't shopped in an outlet mall for a while, Consumer Reports says you may be missing out on some great deals.
  Of the stores you can find at Tanger outlet, Consumer Reports' readers picked Jockey and Mikasa for best service, quality and value.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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