Many people visit Pennsylvania Dutch Country each weekend to take advantage of the many Lancaster outlets that offer such great shopping opportunities.
In fact, the outlets are so popular that bus loads of visitors pour in each day from neighboring Eastern cities just to shop.
If your main reason in visiting Lancaster County is to escape the rat race and step back into a more simpler time, you may not be interested in visiting one of the Lancaster outlets. After all, after enjoying a relaxing horse and buggy ride, taking a peaceful stroll along 18th Century buildings, visiting historical churches, and dining on some home-style Pennsylvania Dutch country cooking, the thought of purchasing a pair of Liz Claiborne shoes, Bose speakers, or a Bulova watch may seem like a shock.
I suppose it just depends on what you feel like doing at any given moment. After soaking up the simple charms of some of the Pennsylvania Dutch towns, there's nothing a bit wrong with a little self-indulgence.
In case you are unfamiliar with outlet shopping, at any given Lancaster outlet you will find entire stores filled with merchandise exclusively from your favorite brands. In contrast, your conventional department store generally has only a small section devoted to any particular brand. Not only will you enjoy a greater variety of products from your favorite brand but since each store is owned by the manufacturer, store employees will be very knowledgeable about their store's brand name merchandise.
Most importantly, however, is the savings you will enjoy. By selling directly to the public and eliminating the middleman, the manufactures are able to offer top-of-the-line designer clothes, shoes, jewelry, home supplies and more at a fraction of what you would spend at a conventional store. Brand name merchandise can routinely be purchased at 20%-40% below retail prices. Plus, if you take advantage of coupons and special promotions, you will save even more.
So, if you start to feel guilty about going to a Lancaster Outlet during your visit to Lancaster County, don't. Think of it as a way of being economical and saving money in the long run. Huh? Didn't work? Well, I tried.
If you do take the plunge, here are some tips to make the most of your visit to the Lancaster Outlets:
- Upon arrival, check out the Customer Service Center. Be sure to ask about the availability of discount coupons, updated store information, and current sales promotions. Be sure to pick up an outlet brochure which provides a map of all the store locations.
- Because some of the Lancaster outlet centers can feature up to 100 different factory direct stores, there is no way that you'll see every stores. At least not in great depth. That is one of the reasons why so many people make these outlet stores the focus of their visit and make frequent weekend visits. So, my suggestion is to plan ahead. Just like you might plan on which hotel to stay at or which restaurant to dine. Make a list of the top 10 items that you or your family are really interested in the most: shoes, perfume, luggage, furniture, sunglasses and so on. Focus your visit on the brand stores that carry those products first. If and when you're finished, you can browse around and, perhaps, discover some surprises which you hadn't thought about before.
- It is very likely that you might want to buy a present for a friend or loved one. If buying clothes, make sure you have their sizes, favorite color, style preferences and so forth beforehand.
- The Lancaster outlets tend to be a lot more crowded during the weekend than during the week. So, to avoid wasting unnecessary time in lines, try to schedule your shopping on a weekday if possible. Also, the outlets are usually the least crowded in the early and later hours of the day.
- If you're shopping with your entire family, the adults and older children may want to go their separate ways. This helps to preserve everyone's sanity. Dad may want to check out the sporting equipment while Mom may prefer to shop for china and glassware while the teens may prefer to search for CDs, DVDs, and books. If so, arrange to meet at an agreed upon location at a specified time. At the very least make sure everyone's cell phone is turned on. I know this may sound like obvious advice but keep it in mind. Nothing makes tempers flare more then when it approaches meal time on a hot summer day and one of the clan is still window shopping.
- Don't buy anything unless you are positive that you want it. Although most Lancaster outlet stores offer return policies similar to other retail stores, this may not be of any use to you if you live out of distance to bring the items back. If possible, check out the outlet's return policy. Some will accept returns without questions asked and offer cash refunds, while others will give store credit. Once again, if you do live far away, store credit may not be very helpful.
- If you're fortunate enough to live close enough where you can make frequent future visits, you should definitely sign up as a club member if that particular Lancaster outlet center offers a Membership Program. Club members usually receive special discounts, exclusive offers, free gifts and much more. Check with the Customer Service if you would like to become a member. If there is a fee, it is usually very little. The Tanger Outlet in Lancaster, for example, currently charges a one-time fee of only $10. The savings you receive easily pays for itself.
- Dress comfortably, have fun, and don't get stressed over the shopping. It's just stuff.
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Lancaster PA Outlets
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