I never do that well at outlet shopping. I build it up as some wonderland where all things fabulous are waiting to be discovered. While this may be true of most outlets, what is also true is that it requires some creative maneuvering to navigate the pushy, messy, crowded experience that is shopping at a designer discount outlet. Sawgrass Mills is a doozy. A circular barrage of stores, it can be both thrilling and rather overwhelming. So, after hitting this mega-shopping spot (on the day after Christmas, no less), I came up with some tips to tackling Sawgrass (and outlets, in general):
1. Valet Parking: Best 10 bucks you will ever spend. Seriously. Forget jockeying for a spot or getting carsick doing circles…valet, trust me.
2. Head for the Colonnade: The whole point of discount shopping is getting a real deal. Bargain hunting is especially possible at the Colonnade, where all the higher end shops are.
3. Find the Bar: Shopping makes me hungry (heck, everything makes me hungry) and there are plenty of good restaurants at Sawgrass from which to choose. Only problem is that most of them have ridiculously long waiting times. BUT these delays can be completely avoided if you are OK with grabbing a spot at the bar at, say, PF Changs or Grand Lux Cafe, as it is first come first serve and has the full menu available.
4. Buy Your Basics: I couldn’t believe the deals on items that anywhere else would be full price- underwear, bras, socks, linens- items that aren’t all that seasonal, are great purchases at deep discounts.
5. Try ON: A lot of items that end up at outlets are ones that are misshapen or sized wrong/awkwardly. The line-ups for the fitting rooms may be long, but make sure you see if those designer jeans fit as they may be discounted for a reason….
6. Check Your Sizes: The old switcheroo is a classic shopping trick that you learn after years of working retail (which I did). People have different and sometimes lopsided body-types…this leads to the act of taking two sizes into a dark corner and, while no one is looking, creating the perfect combination of bathing suit or shoes. The next shopper, the innocent victim of the switcheroo, sees something they know fits, buys said item without checking too closely, goes home and realizes that they have a size 6 top and a size 12 bottom. Avoid being plagued by this sneaky tactic by double checking your sizes (and your feet) and by trying on your desired item.
7. Don’t Outlet Buy Just Because: I stood in the Prada store (okay, I actually was shoved in the Prada store) contemplating the people around me snapping up purses that wouldn’t sell two years ago. Here is the thing: Just because something is cheaper than it used to be, it doesn’t mean that it is miraculously transformed into something you should buy.
8. Les Toilettes: I know that restaurants everywhere would want to kill me for saying this, but use their loos. The public restrooms at most malls, including Sawgrass, aren’t cleaned as often as a restaurant’s and, therefore, are a little less tolerable.
9. Wear the Right Uniform: As any self-respecting fashion-minded person, I care what I put on in the morning. On days when I am headed to Sawgrass, my priorities change. Here is my standard mega-shopping uniform (in warm weather of course): Cross-body purse (makes for wonderfully free hands), layered top, preferably with tank (this makes number 5 on my list possible with the fitting room as optional), skirt (also makes for an easy try on) and flat (yes, you read correctly) shoes.
Did I do well at Sawgrass Mills Mall? While I didn’t walk away breaking the bank, I did manage to perfect my outlet-approach and any experience to hone my highly tuned shopping skills is a success for me.
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