Who doesn’t like a good bargain? I am a bit out of practice due to straddling two continents. But I still have my lists of favorites.
Hands down, my favorite places for bargains are the outlet malls, Nordstrom Rack and Target. I periodically achieve success at T.J. Maxx. Perhaps it is because I infrequently shop at the later store. Amongst the outlet stores my favorites are: BCBG, and Max Studio for women’s clothes. BCBG sells the best blouses and dresses made out of stretch material which is great for travel. The colors don’t fade which is invaluable as the desalinated water here in Qatar is hard on our clothes. For my husband, I like the Kenneth Cole outlet. I bought four quality dress shirts for $100 total at Kenneth Cole this past July. For kid’s clothes, I like Children’s Place and Stride Rite when they have a sale. Some of the stores at the outlet don’t offer a discount over the regular stores so be aware. For example, I purchased a Lego set from a toy store at the outlets that later I found at Wal-Mart for $2 less. The Children’s Place outlet prices are no different to the regular store prices. The outlet just has a larger selection. And before you start shopping at the outlets go to the information desk and buy a VIP coupon for $5. It allows you to receive further discounts from participating stores. Sometimes the coupon is free or less if you have certain memberships like AAA.
Nordstrom’s Rack is great for buying expensive brand name bras like Chantelle and Natori for very cheap. You can find good deals in almost every department. What you find depends on stock. It would be worth asking a sales associate which days they receive new shipments.
Target, well target is target. We all have our favorites there. I like the pajamas, cheap and comfy. The kid’s clothes are pretty good. I can’t wait until my daughter is a couple sizes bigger as the girl’s clothes are so cute and trendy.
For full price stores, get to know their sales, establish a relationship with a sales associate and frequent the store if you can. I like Ann Taylor. But their prices seem to have escalated. Last year when we were back in Seattle, I would browse the Ann Taylor store a couple times a month as I was trying to rebuild a business wardrobe. I found several unannounced sales. The best purchase I made was a silk dress shirt (with a hint of stretch) for $29. It was retailing for $79. This sale did not last long. The next time I went to buy it, I could only get it as low as $44. Nordstrom’s, another favorite, will allow you to “pre-sale” items immediately before their big sales. It pays to establish a relationship with a sales associate.
The sales here in Qatar are largely twice a year: June and December. However, since we first arrived in 2005, this has been changing and the sales can be more frequent. Make sure the stores you like have your mobile number entered as they all text (sms) to announce the start of the sale. And go within the first days of the sale if you want to find anything. I have found really amazing dresses for 25% of the original price at ABS (lovely evening gowns), BCBG and Karen Millen. For the kid’s clothes, I like Pumpkin Patch when it is on sale. And Maxx for girl’s clothes is fashionable and cheap as chips (each item is usually between 20-40 QR). Their boy’s clothes are mediocre. Otherwise, for kid’s clothes I do all my shopping in the USA and bring it all across. Another option has been to use Aramex to ship light items. For those of you unfamiliar with Aramex, you can obtain a US address for free and then just pay for shipping which costs 39 QR (just over 10 USD) to ship each ½ kg which is 1.1 lbs. Recently, my children had out grown all of their swim wear. In Qatar, it is either very expensive to buy or it is difficult to find rash shirts along with the swim shorts. The rash shirts are important in regard to skin protection in lieu of being in the sun and swimming almost every day. A rash swimsuit can retail over 200 QR (55USD) for my son and around 150 QR (41 USD) for my toddler. I did a little research and was able to ship swimwear from the USA at a fraction of the cost. Old navy had rash shirts and shorts on sale for a total of $21 per set for my son and $9 USD for toddler sets. I bought three sets for my son and 2 for my daughter for a total of $81USD (minus tax) add $5 USD for shipping cost to Old Navy and 39 QR (approx 10 USD) for shipping via Aramex. 5 sets of swimwear for around $100!
Now with the opening of the Pearl we are seeing even more “high end” stores. I have heard that business is slow in these stores and that the discounts have been phenomenal. It would be worth a look to establish a relationship with a sales associate at your favorite stores. I don’t buy designer brands any longer (not that I ever bought much to begin with) but I may have a look and will let you know.