For many years, two types of outlet store have existed in the United States. Some stores specialize in buying “odd lots” or “closeouts” of whatever merchandise they can find. They buy at a deep discount, and sell at a significant discount. These stores still offer value, and a little bit of adventure, for those shoppers who like to browse.
Other stores are manufacturers’ outlets. These stores offer products, usually from a single well-known manufacturer or retailer, at a discount. The goods in these stores may have been discontinued, manufactured in excess, returns, or have minor quality issues. The original idea was to get the products “factory direct” and save money. Sometimes this did occur, but the buyer always had to shop with care. In clothing, for example, not all sizes were available.
From freestanding manufacturers’ outlets, outlet shopping centers and malls developed. These are shopping centers, many of them open air but some indoors, all of whose shops claim to sell goods by one or another name brand manufacturer at a discount. Some of these centers have a few dozen stores, some many hundreds, with clothing the predominant theme. The larger malls of this type welcome busloads of foreign tourists, have trolleys to shuttle shoppers to and from parking, and offer food courts and restaurants.
Sometimes these outlet shops still offer odd lots of goods as they did with the original concept, giving a true bargain, but now more often than not, because of very high demand, these companies manufacture goods especially for the outlets. A careful shopper can find good values, of course, but the goods at any given brand name outlet might not be the same as those offered at the full price store of the same brand name. That said, these outlet centers are stimulating places to shop, offering a large variety of products all in one place.
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