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Outlets a step-wise approach

nordstrom racksaks off 5th

Recently, both Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off 5th announced store openings in Edmonton. Nordstrom Rack will open next fall at South Edmonton Common, while Saks Off 5th will open two stores – one at South Edmonton Common this fall, and one in north Edmonton next year.

Some are disappointed that the full-line ‘big sisters’ are not (yet) planned for Edmonton – but I believe this is a very strategic approach.

Edmonton is a metro area of more than one million people. As Canada’s most northern provincial capital, Edmonton is a shopping destination for northern residents in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. This catchment area makes Edmonton a great location for retailers.

But the kinds of provisions people buy here tend to be more practical than trendy. Costco, for example, operates a half-dozen stores in the Edmonton area alone. We’re a hardy people; frugal and no-nonsense, in many ways.  People here like big savings.

This is why I believe that opening with off-price stores will pay off for Saks and Nordstrom – and maybe one day we’ll see full-line stores here, too.

These off-price stores will help introduce people to a broader range of designer brands than are currently available in this market. Doing this at an affordable price point will be very attractive to people here, and can potentially set the stage for more expensive tastes in future, should full-line stores arrive.

We have a lot of catching up to do in order to embrace top designer labels. Until that happens, people here will scour the off-price stores and continue to do their designer shopping online or in the US.

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It’s on sale!

End of July/early August means summer sales are in full swing. It’s sad that we’re only mid way through the summer, but in the retail world, it’s already fall. You’ve no doubt seen back to school sales on as well. Every kid’s nightmare…every parent’s dreamEileen Fisher white tee.

Summer sales are a great time to pick up seasonal classics. Look for white tees that are well-made and designed to last. This Eileen Fisher white tee is on sale at Nordstrom‘s famous anniversary sale, priced at about $108, down from $162. Now, you may think that a hundred bucks is a lot to pay for a t-shirt – but quality makes the difference. I have Marc Cain Sport t-shirts that are 8 or 10 years old, but still look like new. Regular price is about $120 each. But if you calculate cost-per-wear, it’s pennies.  I love a quality tee because of its versatility under suit jackets or paired with jeans on the weekend. And, for the record, no one should ever buy a $9.99 t-shirt! Not only is the quality completely lacking, just think about the impacts on the environment, and more importantly, the workers in emerging countries who make pennies a day in order to keep the selling price so low. Usually these tees only last a couple of wears, too!

Marc Cain navy blazerAnother great basic to pick up is a navy blazer. Many designers create a lightweight navy blazer for summer – but this is a fantastic basic that works year-round. Look for a classic style, understated and made of quality fabrics and construction. It will last you for years. The blazer at right is by Marc Cain.

I love a navy blazer for both work and casual looks. Dress it up with a chic blouse and skirt, or a sheath dress. Dress it down with a Breton striped tee and jeans.

Look for fine finishing, a well-executed cut, smooth lining and quality buttons. Warning signs are rumpled hems, loose threads, loose buttons, and a puckered fit.

Some things to avoid on sale, no matter how deeply discounted, are this year’s trends. They won’t be in style next year, meaning you’ll only have a couple of weeks to wear them this summer before they hit the donation pile next year. Also, remember to shop for your style personality. This year, boho or “festival” tops are all the rage – but if you’re a Classic or Sporty style type, these will not look right on you. Save your money and buy items that fit your style and your lifestyle.

Happy sale-ing!