Apolgies and a rant
And the shitty blogger of the week award goes to...me! Sorry I've been semi-M.I.A. this week. I was in Hilton Head for a wedding last weekend, then I came back to this horrible close at work. Needless to say, I've been swamped. Hopefully the situation will improve starting tomorrow. If not, maybe I'll quit. Yeah, right.

Onto the rant. As I just mentioned, I was in Hilton Head for a wedding last weekend, and on Sunday, we had to kill time before our flight back to New York, so we decided to check out a nearby "Outlet Center." The selection of stores wasn't great to begin with, but at least there was a Gap outlet and a Banana Republic outlet...However, neither of these "outlets" were actually outlets. They weren't selling overstock from the stores; they were selling clothes with special "factory store" labels, and the prices were not much less than what you'd find in the normal stores. What the hell is this? Gap is making a special line of clothes to sell at these so-called "outlet stores" for about 25% less than regular price? Not that Gap's clothes are the most well made in the first place (their idea of a "long" inseam is to add another two inches to the hem, instead of realizing that us tall people are actually built differently, not that we just have longer legs), but my friend N tried on a pair of her beloved Long & Lean jeans and found they were completely different--i.e. much more poorly made--than the ones at the regular Gap.

Then I remembered two years ago when I was in Napa Valley for a wedding and found the same thing at a Barneys New York "outlet"--lots of private-label stuff made especially for the store and no super-marked-down merchandise from the real store. So what gives? Do people not care about the quality of the clothes they're buying? I thought the point of outlet stores is that you get a high-quality item for a super-cheap price: Stores get rid of overstock and shoppers get a bargain. And yet this merchandise is neither from the store nor cheap. To me, it just seems like a way to hoodwink consumers who don't know the difference. Or maybe capitalize on people's cheapness or need for conspicuous consumption (i.e. "This shirt says 'Barneys New York,'" but it's a piece o' crap). Or maybe manufacturers, distributors, and stores have become so efficient that they don't have that much merchandise to sell while the demand for "outlet stores" is high. (I got a B- in economics in college; I'm sure it's showing.) Nevertheless, I hope this isn't a trend that spreads to all outlet malls, especially my dear favorite, Woodbury Commons.

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