Lilliana Vazquez, author of The Cheap Chica’s Guide to Style, recently interviewed Strategy+Style Marketing Group’s Karen Fluharty about how to make the most out of outlet shopping. Check out the excerpt below.

The Ins and Outs of Outlets

I asked Karen E. Fluharty – the president of New York-based Strategy+Style Marketing Group, who over the last twenty years has helped open nearly twenty outlet centers in the United States, Japan, Korea and Malaysia – to share some of her industry knowledge. She explains how the business has changed and how to make outlets work for you.

Q: What led to the change in the way some outlets do business, transitioning from selling only overrun goods to manufacturing goods for their factory stores?

A: The manufacturers found that you need to be able to offer consumers full-size runs, more than just size fourteens, and you need to offer a depth of product. Each brand manages their outlet business differently, so there are stores such as Brooks Brothers Factory Store and Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store that do manufacture for outlet, but they so this because it allows them to offer value.

Q: How does the quality compare in overrun stores and manufactured-for-outlet stores?

A: You may see different buttons or different closures or some different stitching, but whether it’s made for outlet or it’s overrun, the retailer will still provide a quality product because they’re not willing to give their brand a lower-quality reputation.

Q: What tips do you have for outlet shoppers?

A: Shop the brands that you know and love, because you know what they cost at full price so you’ll understand that the savings are there.  Start from the back of the store and work your way forward, because the back of the store is where all the really great deals are. And shop the sale weekends. Whether it’s Labor Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Presidents’ Day – all of those three-day weekends are historically sale periods within the outlets, and there are even more amazing savings during those times.

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