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Great Places to Score a Discount Designer Handbag

You don’t have to dress less-than-glam during these hard economic times—not when shopping centers and Internet sites are flush with places to snag a genuine designer handbag at a deeply discounted price.

Stores selling discounted handbags range from small, intimate vintage and consignment shops to large department stores, and even larger outlet malls. Internet sites offer a wide range of styles, colors, and designer names.

The Premium Outlets and the Tanger Outlets far and away have the largest concentration of discounted designer merchandise. Along with handbag stores such as Coach, Judith Leiber, Kate Spade, and Dooney & Bourke, you’ll find a fantastic array of designer stores. Michael Kors, Liz Clairborne, Prada, DKNY, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Burberry, along with many others, carry everything from clothing to shoes, and a sampling of their handbag lines.

The Premium Outlets have over forty locations nationwide, along with malls in Puerto Rico, Japan, Korea, and Mexico. Tanger Outlet has over thirty locations in the U.S. Both offer AAA and AARP member discounts. Join their VIP Club and visit their Web sites for coupons and special offers. Check out their seasonal sales weekends and national promotions for extra savings in addition to everyday discounts.

First, and in some cases, second quality merchandise is available. You’ll have to bring along a magnifying glass to find flaws, though. Most are detectable only to the factory-trained eye.

These outlet stores are great places to shop. There’s no digging through clearance bins or blowing the dust off merchandise that’s been sitting around for months. The stores are immaculate; the shelves are orderly and well stocked. The staffs are knowledgeable and helpful, the same as you’ll find in their retail stores. Many times, after making your selection, the clerk can bring you a “fresh” bag from the stock room. Care is taken to wrap your treasure in the store’s signature tissue paper, and deposit it into their trademark shopping bag.

Discounts typically run 20 percent to 40 percent off the MSRP, with deeper cuts of up to 65 percent off sale and clearance items. Many of these stores offer a full guarantee on their products, plus a money back return policy. But, as with any store, ask before you buy. Keep in mind that these outlet malls are huge, so wear comfortable shoes and plan for a full day of shopping.

Great bargains can be found in retail giants such as Macy’s and Dillard’s Department Stores. These discounts are usually offered seasonally so you’ll have to watch for them. The selection of these bags will be limited, but you can expect to pay from 20 percent to 30 percent off their retail prices.

Leading discount department stores such as Ross Dress for Less, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls offer designer handbags. The selection varies. You might find a Diane von Furstenberg, Betsy Johnson or a Fossil bag mixed in with their non-designer bags. Merchandise varies from location to location. These are no-frills stores. If you don’t mind digging for a good deal, you can expect to save 20 percent to 60 percent off of department store prices.

Some of the most sought-after designer brands are offered at Websites such as Rue LaLa and Gilt Group. These sites offer members-only pricing on luxury brands, usually for a limited time. Shop early. Expect to pay sales prices of up to 70 percent off retail.

The website e-bay, along with many other online sites, offers designer handbags at considerable savings. The selection is wide and varied. New as well as used purses are available. You’ll have to pay shipping costs, in most cases, so take that into consideration when looking at their prices.

Consignment stores and vintage shops are also good places to find a handbag at a low price. Keep in mind these purses are gently used. Designer names and selection will vary widely. Inventory fluctuates so it’s good to check back often. Savings can be considerable.

No matter where you choose to shop for your designer handbag, it’s important that you can distinguish a genuine bag from a knock-off. Read product descriptions carefully. Do your homework. Know the telltale signs of a counterfeit bag. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

There’s no need to deny yourself the joy of sporting a designer handbag when so many places offer great merchandise and outstanding discounts to the everyday fashionista. Get out and see what’s available. Shopping for your new bag is half the fun!

By Dorothy Howell for Not Just the Kitchen


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