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PRACTICAL VIEW : After the Sale Is Over, What Becomes of the Unwanted?

July 12, 1991|CINDY LaFAVRE YORKS

With summer sales in full swing, it won't be long before stores have to clear out the last of this season's merchandise. No store sells every item in stock, no matter how low they slash the prices. Where do clothes go when the sale signs come down?

Some leftovers from department stores end up at discount or off-price stores. T.J. Maxx recently boasted the arrival of a large shipment of swimwear from department stores. Each suit was ticketed at $12.99, down from $30 or more. At T.J. Maxx, savings traditionally range from 20% to 60% off department store prices, spokeswoman Dawn Griffin says.

Much of what doesn't get sold in department stores ends up at the stores' own outlet centers. Last-call leftovers from Neiman Marcus are sent to two clearance centers, one in Wayne, N.J. and the other in Austin, Tex. I. Magnin stores in Southern California ship their unsold markdowns to the I. Magnin Finale stores in San Mateo. Nordstrom's clearance goods are sent to Nordstrom Rack stores, including centers in Chino, Santa Ana and Woodland Hills.

Most stores play down their outlets, preferring to direct customers to the main store sales. Not Nordstrom Rack stores. They advertise when they receive large shipments. A recent ad touted the arrival of men's shirts, socks, shirts and ties.

Bullock's, owned by parent company R. H. Macy, won't officially comment on where their clearance merchandise goes. But in-the-know shoppers talk about the fourth-floor clearance center in the Bullock's store at Lakewood Mall. The markdown floor's current must-see area is a rack of designer label shoes featuring names like D.K.N.Y. and Via Spiga, priced up to 75% off the original prices.

Robinson's has a similar clearance floor, on the fourth level of the downtown store.

Department store outlet centers accept cash, checks and credit cards. Some won't hold merchandise for longer than a few hours and discourage returns. In most cases, when a markdown item is laid to rest in a shopping bag, the buck stops there.

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