There’s nothing I want at an Outlet Mall

May 18, 2011

Gail and I have visited half a dozen outlet malls in our travels through two provinces and six states. The only outlet I’ve seen that was of even remote interest to me was the Bose sound system store. Oh sure, I’ve picked up some shoes, pants, socks and shirts but that’s out of necessity not shopping. In desperation I’ve browsed the Sunglasses Hut and Samsonite stores but with clip-ons and new luggage that we bought in Italy last year I am already set. I suppose some men would find interest in a Tag Heuer store but if a watch is in the same price range as a Prius it better get the outstanding gas mileage.

My interest was peaked when I noticed that one store carried Caterpillar (tractor company) branded goods but they turned out to be steel toed stilettos and lace trimmed denim shirts. The Harley Davidson store didn’t have a single motorcycle part or accessory and I there were no Montreal biker gang members picking up pink hoodies for their Breast Cancer Bike Tour on the day I was there.

Where are the outlet stores that feature designers like Stanley, Black & Decker and Delta? Does Mike Holmes buy his Makita tools at full retail? I want to see brands like Lowes, Ace, Home Depot and Revy. Sony, Yamaha, Toshiba and Samsung should join Bose at the discount end of the retail market.

I overheard a couple of women already loaded down with bags planning to meet at the food court “as close as possible to the window in two hours from now.” I was finished shopping and had eaten lunch in just 30 minutes and left with a full belly but empty handed. I’d be planning a return trip if the store selection contained Lee Valley, Best Buy, Magic Palace, Weber Grills or John Deere. A Chapters book store or an automobile showroom would at least give me somewhere to go while Gail shopped for shoes.

Perhaps if I was richer I could shop like the guy in the two-car convoy. His black chauffeured Cadillac pulled up in front of the Cartier store and he dashed inside. His body guard stepped down from the black Escalade that followed and took a stance on the sidewalk looking into the store. At six foot four and 240 pounds I am considered overweight but this guy at 300 pounds would be considered trim. He cast a shadow that provided shade for a whole busload of Chinese visitors. If he had hinges he could have been used as a barn door. His boss exited the store within minutes, his driver opened the trunk and stowed his packages while the mountain man held the car door open. Everyone climbed aboard in a well rehearsed routine and the convoy drove around to the Moms and Tots Store. The tableau repeated itself while the boss dashed inside. He must have phoned in his order and had it ready for pick up because he was out again in seconds with an armload of bags. Then they moved along to park in the fire lane with flashers on outside another store while the boss finished shopping. His credit card hardly had time to cool before they exited the mall and headed for home.

Meanwhile, I am still sitting in the husband chair outside Jimmy Chou’s watching the endless stream of people that seem to think that outlet malls make for an afternoon of good entertainment. I would be pleased to join them again when the product mix includes stuff that doesn’t have to be tried on before purchase.

That’s what I’m thinking about.

Jon Hall

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