Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bargain Alert

If you're like me, you know that August means one thing (well, aside from the oppressive heat and humidity that washes over the area): bargains. Rock bottom, basement bargains. It's still hot in September, so I know that I'll get at least two months out of that tank top, even more if I wear it under a hoodie this fall. The deals were even better when I was in college. I went to the University of Tampa, so I'd be shopping for my back-to-school wardrobe from those clearance racks, probably saving enough to pay for the flight back to school.

If you look, you'll be able to score a few bargains at shore stores, though the deals won't be nearly as good as what you'd find at the Gap sale rack (unless, of course, you're at the Gap Outlet in Atlantic City, but I'll get to that in a minute). And unlike at the mall, you won't see major discounts until right around Labor Day as opposed to the usual post-Fourth of July price drops.

Of course, there are a few exceptions:

My long-time favorite is The Attic, which is next door to Suncatcher Surf Shop (9425 2nd Avenue, Stone Harbor, 609-368-3488). The Attic is a catch all for what doesn't sell, or the odd sizes out, from Suncatcher and its sister store, Mimi's. Last time I stopped in, everything was 70 percent off. And there's no fine print or exceptions. EVERYTHING is deeply discounted. Some of the items sold are pricey to start, so even a slash through the price's heart isn't going to put it in a bargain hunter's price range. I've still managed a few steals. The first was a Juicy Couture tank top (and that was before anyone ever started to wear those valour track suits as going-out wear). I've picked up jewelry, bathing suits, and fleece jackets for me and my brothers. This year, I scored a pair of Roxy espadrilles, which I consider a coup since the shoe sizes tend to run small at the Attic. I guess no one wanted the size nine. Too bad for them. I picked up the pair for about $15.

Another shop to check out is Hot Stuff (3252 Dune Drive, Avalon, 609-967-7700). Look carefully for this one -- the clothing store is nestled inside a home decor shop, but there's usually a rack of sale clothes outside. Ask about the discounts because they're not clearly marked. I was there last weekend, and most of the jeans were 50 percent off. This was quality denim, too.

If you're in the mood to bargain shop until you drop, then head over to Atlantic City to The Walk (1931 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, 609-872-7002), which is a bundle of prime time outlet stores. Most of the prices are bargains to start, and now the summer stuff needs to move to make room for fall shopping, you could hit the bargain jackpot. Your best deals will be at the Gap and Banana Republic outlets, especially if all you want are staple wardrobe pieces. Young women (or women who still like to dress like they're young) will appreciate the price slashes at the Guess? outlet. Guys, you can enjoy this one, too -- they do have men's clothing as well.

Not everything is always value, priced, though. I was disappointed at what American Eagle had to offer -- the stock didn't seem to be any different than what you'd find in a 'regular' store. I still don't feel like plunking down a few hundred dollars for a Coach bag, no matter how many rabid devotees were pawing the merchandise last time I stopped in, and I still score better deals on Reebok running gear at TJMaxx and Marshalls.

But to each his (or her) own. I picked up a cute white cotton t-shirt adorned with the image of a blue seahorse at Hot Stuff on Saturday. My mom nearly choked when she saw how much I paid for it, but I thought it was a steal. When I find something is perfect to wear out to a bar at the shore, to a movie date, and with shorts to Sunday brunch, I think I'm getting my money's worth.

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