With the proliferation of factory outlet malls, the dilemma now is "Which one shall we visit?"
In the Los Angeles area we have three excellent ways to go. We can hop on Interstate 5 and be at The Citadel in the City of Commerce in less than an hour. Or we can plan to spend the day and head for the Desert Hills Outlet Stores in Cabazon or to Barstow and the Factory Merchants Outlet Plaza.
The decision, to a large extent, depends on your favorite labels. Each of these three factory outlet malls has certain manufacturers that are exclusive to that particular mall.
The Citadel has L. Bates, Benetton, Bijoux Medici, Carole Little, Crisa, Firenze, The Gap Outlet Store, Leon Max, Lily of France, Multiples, Politix and Sarah Coventry.
The well-known brands at Desert Hills are Adrienne Vitadinni, Albert Nipon, American Tourister, Esprit, Geoffrey Beene, Gorham China, Guess?, Joan & David, Jones of New York, Maidenform, Nike and West Point Pepperel.
The Barstow Factory Merchants Outlet Plaza has some heavy hitters that outdraw either of the other two outlets: Aca Joe, Banister, Bass, Big Dog, Black & Decker, Bruce Alan Handbags, Bugle Boy, Evan-Picone, Fieldcrest-Cannon, Hartman Luggage, Izod (Ship & Shore & Monet), Johnston & Murphy, Lenox China, London Fog, Oneida, Polly Flinders, Ralph Lauren/Polo, Reebok, Sergio Tacchini, Skyr. The London Fog outlet alone is worth the ride to Barstow. And there are many who feel that way about Ralph Lauren/Polo.
At all three you will find Gitano, Adolfo II and Corning/Revere. Barstow and Desert Hills have Anne Klein, Aileen, Barbizon, Robert Scott/David Brooks, Gant, Van Heusen, Royal Doulton and The Kitchen Collection (Proctor-Silex & WearEver), which are not at The Citadel.
The Citadel and Desert Hills both house outlets for Harve Benard, Eddie Bauer, Perry Ellis Shoes and Nancy Johnson--none of which are in Barstow.
So pick your favorite labels. Whichever mall has the most of those names should be your choice.
These outlet malls offer recreational shopping at its best. But as you can see from the above list, if you're undecided as to which one to visit, Barstow has the most to offer.
The range of discounts runs from 20% to 70% off retail prices at all three malls, with 35% to 40% the average. Most of the merchandise is first-quality, although some manufacturers relegate their irregulars to their outlet, while others use their outlet stores to test-market new lines.
A few trade on their reputations and make a product of lesser quality, which they sell only in outlet stores--a tacky practice that the astute shopper will spot immediately. It's a mixed bag, but it's all great fun, and smart shoppers definitely find enough good deals to make it pay off.
The Citadel is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Exit Interstate 5 at Atlantic Boulevard. (213) 888-1220. Desert Hills in Cabazon is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Exit Interstate 10 at Apache. (714) 849-6641. Factory Merchants Outlet Plaza in Barstow is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Exit Interstate 15 at Lenwood. (619) 253-7342. In each case, plentiful signs will direct you.