Factory stores, clearance centers, and surplus outlets away from the malls.

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  • Hartmann Factory Store

    Hartmann makes fine high-end luggage popular with investment bankers and other business travelers who get to sit at the front of the plane. A luggage outlet is a way to deal with the problem of pieces being left over when stores carry sets but people only want to buy one piece of it. That’s less of a problem than it was in the days when luggage was a trousseau item.

    Hartmann used to make its luggage in Lebanon, Tennessee, which is why this outlet store is an industrial area. Most of the luggage is made in China, but there are deals to be had here. But remember that the list price of this stuff is high, so even at the outlet, you’ll probably pay up.

  • Nasco Outlet Stores

    2014-03-27 09.38.36Nasco is a catalogue company with distribution centers in Modesto, California and Ft. Atkinson, Wisconsin. Much of the company’s product line is aimed at teachers looking for classroom materials and craft supplies, but Nasco also has catalogues for agricultural, laboratory, and health care.

    2014-03-27 09.39.13The company has two outlet stores in Wisconson, catty-corner from each other. One sells arts, crafts, and school supplies, while the other sells eveything else. Between the two, you can find duct tape in just about every color, playground balls, and pet supplies. There were especially nice values on preschool toys and educational books.

    The arts and crafts store had few bargain prices on the art supplies, but there were some closeouts on school gym equipment – like playground balls – in the back.

    The main store had a great selection of books and toys.

    The only problem with this outlet is that Ft. Atkinson is in the middle of nowhere! The prices are good enough that you should make a visit if you are in the area, but it’s not worth a special trip.

    2014-03-27 09.42.52

    Nasco Catalog Outlet Store
    4825 Stoddard Road
    Modesto, CA 95368

    Nasco Catalog Outlet Store
    901 Janesville Avenue
    Fort Atkinson, WI 53538

    Nasco Arts & Crafts Store
    801 B Janesville Avenue
    Fort Atkinson, WI 53538

  • Palermo’s Pizza

    Cheese PizzaPalermo’s Pizza is basic grocery-store frozen pizza. The manufacturing plant in Milwaukee offers frequent tours and has an adjacent cafe and company store. Lunch is a good value, and the pizzas are, too. They are priced slightly better than the best sales prices at the grocery store. If you have teenage athletes, take a cooler and stock up!

    The tours are not free, but they are pretty cheap and include lunch and a souvenir. Make reservations in advance.

    3301 W. Canal St.
    Milwaukee, WI 53208

  • The New York Times reviews Neiman Marcus Last Call stores

    Neiman Marcus Last Call has some overstock items from 41 regular Neiman Marcus stores and two Bergdorf Goodman stores, but most of the items are merchandise purchased for the 30 Last Call stores. After all, the company now has about as many outlets as full-priced stores; the inventory math doesn’t add up. If Neiman Marcus really has that much excess inventory from its regular stores, then it’s time to hire some new buyers.

    That being said, there are some bargains at some Last Call stores. If you want to learn more about them, the New York Times has a few good stories. One is a 2008 review of the Deer Park, Long Island Last Call store that highlights some of the occasional designer finds.

    The 12 Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio stores carry only merchandise made for them. There are some bargains there, too in the form of designer-like styles under the store’s own brand name.

    There’s nothing wrong with that, either – just make sure you know what you’re buying.

  • Why we don’t review outlet malls

    Land PoloThis site is about outlet, clearance, and discount stores. As part of that, we’re always looking for real outlet stores – those that sell closeouts, slightly imperfect merchandise, leftovers, etc. Some of these are also retail stores associated with a factory or warehouse that may have items sold at full price or a slight discount thereof, but that are hard to find elsewhere.

    What we don’t review are outlet malls. True, sometimes genuine outlet stores can be found in outlet malls, but not always. Most of the stores at outlet malls sell items at regular retail (after adjusting for all of the fake sale prices you see), or they sell items that are made specifically for the outlet stores. The tags and products aren’t exactly the same as those you’d find at Macy’s, Nordstrom, or a regular Banana Republic store, for example.

    Let’s face it, there are a lot of outlet malls out there. At the same time, manufacturers put such an emphasis on quality control and inventory management in order to save money that there just isn’t a lot of outlet-worthy merchandise out there.

    In some cases, the outlet stores sell brand that aren’t found in most stores, possibly to target international customers. Let’s take U.S. Polo Association, which is not to be confused with Ralph Lauren Polo. It’s a knockoff brand that seems to have a store in every outlet mall, but is it sold anywhere else?

    If you are like to shop by brand rather than by retailer, and if you find yourself near an outlet mall, by all means – go ahead and shop. You won’t get ripped off, but you won’t be getting a great deal, either.