Spending an hour or more in the Family Outlet on Balboa Boulevard is a most entertaining way to whittle down lists--gift lists, office supply lists, kids' books and toy lists--while discovering new and intriguing gadgets.
I don't know which is more impressive at this 10-month-old store: the variety of merchandise, the prices or the immaculate housekeeping.
If you're looking for gift-wrapping, kitchenware, books, calculators, organizers or computer bags, you'll find some dazzling deals. Gift tote bags that cost about $1.98 at most stores were 68 cents.
In toys, a charming Victorian dollhouse that folds and is complete with built-in furnishings for $6.98 seems like a steal considering that the suggested retail is $29.99 and some stores claim it as a bargain at $22.99.
If you have little ones to buy for, you may not be able to resist a teddy bear telling about Goldilocks. Match the numbers on the bear's foot to the page number on the book and you have a talking teddy. It sells in one catalog for $19.98, but the tag here is $9.98.
Those touch lights selling on TV at six for $20 plus shipping are only $1, which is one reason I will return to the Family Outlet. I gave away the four I bought. And the small book light for $1.98 that goes for $9 at one book chain will probably be a gift as well.
Those stainless-steel commuter coffee mugs that one specialty chain sells for $24.99 and a major discounter offers as a deal for $10 sell here for $4.98. In kitchenware, you'll find many nylon cooking utensils going for 68 to 88 cents. A package of three pairs of scissors of various sizes was $1.
Though it hardly seems necessary, owner Gary Kramer is having a sidewalk sale this weekend and reducing prices even more.
Family Outlet store, 11124 Balboa Blvd., Granada Hills, (818) 832-1367, and 19557 Parthenia St., Northridge, (818) 701-0145. Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
For more bargains, visit http://www.bargainsla.com.