I recently had a discussion with “Berkin”, the guy not the bag, (as you may have gathered all names are changed, but the stories are real), and he mentioned having read an article in Marketing Magazine, May 17, 2010, about the influx of low-end/big box stores having big name brands come on board. The grocery-store-cheap-and-chic is flourishing and I am no stranger to this trend. I love the idea of shopping for a great outfit with a grocery cart and there is something very satisfying about spending small and walking out with huge shopping bags full of stuff that you won’t mind throwing away at the end of the season (the fact that I rarely do that is a whole other blog entry). I am not referring to the H&M’s of the world, although those are wonderfully satisfying shopping experiences as well. What I am pointing out to all of you is that I often get a glance or a complement on a dress or a pair of sandals that I purchased in the aisles between the diapers and the stationary.
There are downsides to the big-box shopping extravaganza. This was evidenced when I was in a Target store in Maine and had to vacate the shoe area quickly as a mother was holding her daughter’s hair back and…I’ll stop there. The perils of the big-boxes are: the pushing, having to maneuver an oversized cart through aisles that are inevitably too small (I always feel like I have had a martini when I am wheeling those things around), interacting with a usually unhappy check-out person, and taking in the weird sights and smells (McDonald’s in a Walmart, Starbucks in a Super-Target). But if you can tolerate the odd inconvenience, these spots should be added to anyone’s shopping list.
Joe Fresh: Located in Loblaw’s, this brand makes amazing on-trend stuff, especially for children’s clothes. I was the super-sister-in-law when I bought a whole wardrobe for my niece (along with my eggs, milk, veggies and fruits!) and it didn’t break the bank. Chalk-full of ruffles, bright colors, ribbons and buttons, these outfits were to-die-for and when she grew out of them it was no big deal. http://www.joe.ca/
Walmart: Walmart is a pretty obvious stop for any bargain shopper, but what I discovered last year on a road trip up to Tremblant, was that Walmart not only has basic necessities like food and household goods, it also has some cute stuff. We were headed up to stay at a great hotel in the Laurentians, Quebec, when Berkin realized that he forgot his bathing suit at home. At a loss, we stopped in to Walmart and found so many bathing suits that had great cuts and chic styling that we were actually faced with having to decide which one to buy! Needless to say, when spring cleaning came around it was one of the old Oakley board shorts that got the boot and the Walmart ones stuck around. I have also been known to find fun socks and undies at this big-box-powerhouse. http://www.walmart.com/cp/Men/133197
Winners: I have only been to Winners thrice and I have never actually purchased anything there. But from what I have seen and heard, I can tell why this place is usually packed on a weekend. Real brands (not just the leftover, crappy ones) find their way onto these Canadian shelves. I am impressed with both the brands and the prices and have watched my friends buy up tons. The shoe rack is especially commendable. My only complaint is the layout, and this happens at many of these stores: they group by style, then size. Unfortunately, in these instances I prefer sorting by brand, because I don’t want to have to rifle through piles of Roxy, Lacoste and Quicksilver to find that one gem I am looking for. http://www.winners.ca/en/index.asp
Loehmann’s: This place is magic. Firstly, they sort by brand. I can scan the room and very quickly peruse and find that pair of seven jeans, a theory suit, FCUK sweater and Le Rok button down that I definitely didn’t need, but am so happy I spotted. Get a Loehmann’s Insider’s Card: it will give you coupons for extra-discounts, 10% extra off on your birthday and you don’t actually need to bring it with you because they have you on file in their system. https://www.loehmanns.com/Login.aspx
Target: I am a serious Target maniac. I believe that they single-handedly began the idea that high design should not be limited to high priced items. It helps that I worked with them when I was making bags in L.A. and I saw that their undying commitment was to provide their “Guests” with the absolute best pricing they could come up with, the most detailed and designed products, and the most aesthetic and on-brand shopping experience. I have been known to buy dresses, shoes, hats, scarves, jewellery, and housewares at Target (ok, and maybe some candy also….). I highly recommend the Mossimo tank-tops- they are extra-long and cozy, any of their sandals and bathing suits, their maternity section for the preggers and if you are one the small side, be sure not to miss the kids’ section (a size 16 in this section of Target is the equivalent of a size 2-4 ladies and they have tons of cute items). I also have to mention my girl Sonia Kashuk, who has been a staple in the Target Beauty section (since before I worked with her LA) and comes up with sleek, amazing makeup for very cheap prices. http://www.target.com/Sonia-Kashuk-Designers-Shopping-Directory/b?ie=UTF8&node=1084124
(A Target Dress on the streets of Europe)
Obviously, these aren’t the only spots to shop, but these are stores that have given me some great times, and not to mention outfits. So if you ever see me driving around grinning and looking like I have this great secret, I probably do. And that smile might mean my trunk is full of bags marked with a bullseye.
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