The Outlet Trend

Outlet stores are everywhere. No matter where you look, there is some kind of store boasting cheap prices because it is an “outlet.” Companies have all jumped onto this same bandwagon. They buy or rent small, crappy buildings, throw their merchandise onto disorganized racks or tables, post a bunch of sale or clearance signs all over, then call it an outlet store. The problem here is, the prices and merchandise are the same as they are in the department store. As much as the stores want you to believe that the prices are better, they aren’t. All you have to do is actually compare them. The concept of paying hundreds of dollars for something as simple as a sweater in what is supposed to be an “outlet” store is beyond comprehension. I don’t care what the brand on that sweater is.

When I was growing up, there was an actual purpose for outlet stores. People are imperfect, as are the machines people make. Sometimes the machines create items that are not quite up to par. When people went to department stores, they found that all of the clothes there were perfect. None had the seem slightly twisted, or one pantleg slightly longer than the other and so on. These types of mistakes were taken to the outlet, and sold at a highly reduced prices, because they could not be sold retail. Many of us who were strapped for cash back in the day were very grateful for these mistakes. A slightly twisted seem was worth it for $5 name brand jeans.

Now, I guess, the companies either throw the rejects away, or just sell them retail. My money is on selling them retail. With each new retail generation, I’ve watched quality sink. When I was young, quality was a main priority. Companies focused on high quality materials, quality workmanship, and keeping the lower quality products off of their shelves. As time has gone by, I have watched companies lose interest in using quality materials. Those kinds of materials cost money. The companies would rather save the money on the materials, yet charge the consumers the same amount, or more, for a lower quality product. From there, they have gone to hiring unskilled laborers, mostly offshore factory workers. These people have no idea how to create a quality product, but they cost a lot less. Again, they company saves money, but charges the consumers the same amount, or more, for the product. Now, when you go to these stores, regardless of whether they claim to be a department store, outlet store, or whatever, it is common to find items with missing buttons, broken zippers, or other obvious issues on their shelves. When I was growing up, these kinds of quality issues would be rare, if they happened at all.

What bothers me the most about this “outlet trend,” is that it works! People actually buy into these companies’ hype! These companies sell these people torn, ragged, unorganized merchandise in a small, filthy environment for the same price it would have gone for in the department store, and people believe they are getting a deal! No wonder our society, and our economy is going downhill so fast…


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