What Are Coach Outlet Stores?
Outlet stores (also called factory stores) are retail shops where big name retail brands sell items directly to the public. In the beginning, factory outlet stores were literally attached to factories, “cutting out the middle man” so that the price for the consumer was much lower than in a retail store. These days, it is rare to find a factory or outlet store that is actually attached to a factory, and the discounts are not quite the same as at the factory outlet stores of the 80s and 90s. (See How to Be a Bargain Finder for more information.)
Coach is a huge leather goods brand, making a long list of clothing and accessory items such as ladies’ handbags, luggage, briefcases, wallets, watches, shoes, and other footwear items. Not outrageously expensive, but not cheap either, Coach goods are well-known for the beauty and their craftsmanship. Since Coach, as a brand, is considered somewhat “higher end”, factory stores that sell Coach brands are really popular, the discounts there turning once pricey Coach bags into something a little more affordable.
How Do I Find a Coach Factory Outlet Store?
What Do Coach Outlet Stores Carry?
There’s no way to look up the inventory of a particular Coach outlet store — no websites, no catalogs, etc. If you show up at a Coach outlet store, you never know what you’ll see from week to week.
If you’d like an idea of the items for sale at your local Coach outlet, you can call the store. It is best to ask about specific items by name or style number rather than simply ask “What are you carrying right now?” The employee will be able to look up a particular item for you and tell you if it is in stock. They may even be able to tell you about future shipments, if the item isn’t currently for sale at their shop.
Coach outlet stores will generally hold an item for up to two days, or (if your item is not in stock) you can have your name put on a contact list, and if that item arrives, they’ll let you know. All factory outlet stores have a really strange variety of items in stock, and one store may have a completely different inventory from the next, so if you have a few Coach outlet stores within driving distance of your home, you can always contact multiple stores.
How Much Cheaper Are Coach Outlet Stores?
This varies depending on the item you’re looking for. In general, Coach outlet stores sell their items anywhere from 15 to 80% off of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.
Believe it or not, the Coach outlet store has its own clearance rack, where older items or items that may have a small factory defect are available for even lower prices, often an additional 20 to 40% off the discounted outlet price.
Are All Items at Coach Outlet Stores Damaged or Defective?
Once upon a time, selling flawed merchandise at a factory outlet store was very rare. Now, outlet stores often sell slightly damaged items at deep discounts. Often, the flaw is so small or is hidden in such a way that no one will ever see it — and don’t forget that most of the stock at your Coach outlet store is not going to be defective or damaged, and those items that are damaged will be marked.
How Do Items End Up in the Coach Outlet Store?
Besides damaged merchandise, the reason why stock may end up in a factory outlet is probably that they were sitting unsold on a shelf at a boutique store somewhere else in the country. The only way someone would notice that your Coach bag came from an outlet store is the tiny circle that is imprinted on the Coach logo of factory outlet items. The quality is still pretty much the same, but you should always inspect items you buy at outlet stores.
A good percentage of the handbags at Coach outlet stores come from “last season” — the boutique stores want to sell new styles, so they ship the old units off to outlets to make a small return on otherwise unwanted merchandise. Also, shipping items to an outlet store makes room for the more expensive new items.
When Do Coach Outlet Stores Get Shipments of New Items?
The beginning of the month is ideal Coach outlet store shopping time — that’s when the factory trucks arrive and the new outlet items are put up for sale.
Tricks for Shopping at the Coach Outlet Store
1. If you are looking for a specific Coach bag, call all the Coach outlets within an easy drive of your home and put your name on the list for that bag at each store. Most Coach outlet stores use those lists to determine if they need to order a lot of a specific item, so putting your name on the list could be the reason they decide to order the bag you want. Besides, putting your name in multiple outlet locations increases your chances of getting the Coach bag you’re after.
2. Shop with your hands. Grab anything that you think you may want to buy — remember, you can always put the item back or decide not to buy it later. If you don’t pick it up, a sneaky Coach outlet shopper could come behind you and snatch up the bag you really want. Debate your purchase with your Coach bags in hand.
3. Pay attention to price tags and other tags. It is easy to forget to look at all the tags on an item at a Coach outlet store, but you may end up buying a bag with a specific defect that you didn’t know about before you plunked down your cash.
See How to Buy Stuff on eBay for additional ideas on how to save money on Coach products.
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