The “Outlet” [Creative Non-Fiction]

A line of women dressed in their Gucci, Versace, and Dior (among other brands) stand in front of a pair of double doors, attached to an unmarked building.  From the road, the building looks like nothing more than an extension of a warehouse, but these women know the secret treasures that this place holds.  They stand, eager to enter, numbers in hand.

The women who have been coming for years reminisce over better days, when everyone entered based on their place in line.  Though it could get hectic as everyone rushed in (before the doors were even completely opened), they preferred the idea of “the early bird gets the worm.”  Now, they could only stare at their numbers, hoping there’s would be one of the first called.

A few senior members of this exclusive group, who have been coming for well over 10 years, glare at some newcomers.  The Outlet had a list of unofficial rules and rule #1 was to keep your mouth shut about its whereabouts.  That included telling family, close friends, and co-workers.  Despite this rule, some people still thought it was a good idea to share the wealth with everyone.  Everyday more and more numbers were being handed out because of these people who couldn’t keep their mouths shut.

At 8:30AM on the dot, a store clerk comes outside to read off the numbers at random.  The people who get in first are pretty much guaranteed to get the best of the designer labels.  The others tap their heels impatiently and hope that there are decent leftovers.

At the store, everyday is like Black Friday and, for the ladies who go, it’s an addiction.  There is a different selection of random designer clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry (you name it) everyday you come and it’s all at discounted prices.  That’s the appeal of this store.  A Marc Jacobs purse that is originally $1600 in stores may be sold at less than half that price at the Outlet.  But there is a price to getting these labels so cheap.  Many of the items at the Outlet have some kind of issue with them, whether it’s a tear that needs mending, a broken zipper, or a stain on a garment.  I personally call these items “Outlet specials” because they’re what make Outlet items so distinct.

An Outlet item can also be identified by the thick, black Sharpie line drawn across the tag of the item.  They do this to avoid any funny business with people trying to take things back to the store to get “their money back.”  But, let’s just say, Outlet goers have still found ways to make a profit from their discounted merchandise.

The women of the Outlet can be quite ruthless.  Friends will covet the things that the other one has found.  People will fight over who was in line at “the case” first (the case has items in it that you have to buy straight out.  You can’t hold it with you around the store, pondering whether or not you want to buy it).  Some will say things like “That probably won’t fit you” or “I don’t think you should get that.  It’s ugly,” just so you can put it down.  And, guess who will have it in their hands two minutes later?

The cattiest can get extreme, so it’s not for the faint of heart.

The Outlet is a hit or miss on a day to day basis.  But, to the women who go, it is well worth standing in line (each day, for some) to possibly get something glamorous.

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Note:  If you’re curious, my mom is among the “women of the Outlet.”  She’s been going for years and I am sworn to secrecy when it comes to its location.  Over the years I’ve gotten a lot of “outlet specials” from my mom and now 90% of my clothes are things she’s bought me from the Outlet.

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