Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Trousseau Tuesday: J.Crew Clearance Outlet

I've been hearing about the J.Crew Clearance Outlet located in Lynchburg, VA since my friend (shout out to Marie C.!) called me up to gush about the steal she had gotten on some J.Crew shoes, which was about 3 years ago. This place sounds like fantasy island for the preppy at heart. Unlike the J.Crew outlet stores that you see at outlet shopping malls, the J.Crew Clearance Outlet is a stand alone store. J.Crew's factory is located in Lynchburg, so if you order online or through the catalog all of your merchandise is shipped from Lynchburg. Likewise, if you don't like your purchase (gasp! how can this be?), your merchandise is shipped back to Lynchburg for returns. J.Crew either chooses to or is not allowed to resell this merchandise and instead sells the stock at a discounted price in two different Lynchburg stores.

Even though I'm living in Arlington, VA, I don't get down to Lynchburg very often...until this past weekend. Mr. 3 and I were headed back from a long weekend in Charlotte, NC visiting our parents and attending a wedding.* The man loves to do all the driving and I'm happy to let him, but he is always willing to take a little side trip to a nearby attraction (shopping, I've told him is clearly an attraction worth stopping for). Since it was a spur of the moment decision to stop off, I had to do some quick internet stalking to find the address (J.Crew doesn't list the locations on its website). Thanks to an great blog I've recently started reading, I was able to easily locate the addresses (Thanks Small and Chic in Cville!). One location, (25 Millrace Rd. Lynchburg, VA) is located at the distribution center, and the second location (101 Northwynd Circle St. Lynchburg, VA) is a super cute stand alone store, which is where I chose to stop.

I was really impressed with how the store was laid out and the sales associates working at the store. They were so friendly and helpful (they went to the trouble of looking through their back stock and display pieces to find Mr. 3's size)! The store has a Crew Cuts (J.Crew for kids), men's, women's, shoe, accessory, swimsuit, and bridal sections. There are also a few racks of Madewell clothing (a J.Crew company). The outlet also carries a small selection of handbags that are scattered throughout the racks and end caps.

I shopped around for about 45 minutes, looking for myself and doing a little bit of market research for you Posh Purpose readers. I found that the shoes were priced at $50-$70 for shoes that generally run $150-$350. This is a great price point for shoes, most of which are made in Italy (I've heard a rumor that J.Crew shoes are made at the same factory as Gucci!). There is a small cabinet of accessories with necklaces at $40-$70, bracelets at $20-$40, and headbands and other hair accessories at $10-$20.

The women's section is organized by type of apparel (i.e. tanks, t-shirts, pants, etc.) and then by size. Tanks and tees are priced at $15-$20, the nicer sleeveless shirts (perfect for wearing to work) are $30, pants are $40-$70, blazers are $70-$100.

Swimsuits are an especially great bargain! Previously, I paid full price for a pair of bathing suit bottoms at $68 (I know, for shame, but bathing suits are the bane of my existence. So if I find one I like, I snap it up!), but I found the same exact pair in a different color for $15! And yes, I totally bought them!

The men's section leaves a little to be desired, great prices, but not too much selection. The men's casual pants (i.e. khakis and other chinos) are $20, blazers are $120ish, dress pants are $40-$70, tees are $10, shorts are $20-$25, jeans are $25-$30, swim trunks are $20, and shirts are $20-$30. There was a very small selection of ties for $15 and shoes (I didn't catch the price, sorry!).

Overall, the best part about the store was the bridal section. J.Crew only carries its wedding dresses and bridal collection at few stores in the US. As a result, the Clearance Outlet had many wedding dresses, that have been purchased online and then returned, in the store ranging from $120-$220.

In addition, there was a small selection of flower girl dresses and bridemaids dresses. If you are having a small wedding with only a few attendants, this would be a great place to find bridesmaids dresses and at $70 each you can't do better than that (full price they are $200-$350)! If you are having a larger wedding, this is also a great resource for finding a rehearsal dinner dress or some cute dresses for your honeymoon!

So, on my particular shopping expedition, I came away with my swimsuit bottoms for $15 (don't worry I already have a top), a dressy tank top for work at $30, and a pair of pants for Mr. 3. His khaki pants were quite the steal. They were originally priced at $20, but because the fastener was partially missing (and he has a handy girlfriend who can correct this with a quick trip to the sewing store), the sales associate sold them to us for $10!

There are no returns or exchanges, but they do take credit cards. Overall, I would say that the selection is not big enough to warrant the 3.5 hour drive from DC, BUT if you happen to be passing through, it is totally worth the 10 minute drive off of the highway!

* Shout out to Mrs. Carolyn and my wonderful mama for putting us up for the weekend. Love being with y'all! Also, congrats to "little Sara" P. (formerly "little Sara" B.) on her wedding! She made a beautiful bride!