There is no better advice you can give to someone who is interested in saving money than the advice to “stay out of the malls;” however, an important exception to that rule is that you may visit the outlet malls. It is also important that you have extreme self-control if you are going for such a visit.

All across this country you will find outlet malls where manufactured items are sold at great discounts. Much money can be saved by shopping these malls, especially if a trip to the mall can be combined with another preplanned trip, such as a trip to grandmothers for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

If you are already planning such a trip, you can allow yourself several extra hours travel time so you can stop at the outlet malls and shop. “Shop” does not mean “purchase.” Check out the merchandise and see how prices stack up with those that you have been paying.

As with everything else in today’s economic climate, knowing your prices can not be over- emphasized. Taking advantage of every opportunity to save money should be second nature to all of us who are fighting the war of economic survival

Outlet malls can be treasure chests and can be found selling almost anything; many are located near major highways. A word of warning: not all shops located in an outlet mall are required to be outlet stores, a certain percentage of the stores are not required to be outlets.

From Opelika’s location, there are a large number of outlet malls that can be reached by car in a short time. Ask your computer for outlet malls in Alabama and you may be surprised at how many we have.

These shops are so specialized that you can spend less time shopping. If, for example, you know you want Gap clothing, go to a Gap outlet

Opelika has the USA Factory Outlet Mall, which can be explored utilizing only a few hours of your time. Even if you find only one manufacturer who offers an item at a much lower price than you usually pay, you will be ahead of the game.

Some of the older malls, such as Boaz, Ala., are no longer operating at the capacity that they once did, but there are still bargains to be found there if you know what you are doing.

Ideally, an overall shopping list would be made that incorporated all purchases for the year – clothing for all members of the family, gifts for birthdays, Christmas, etc., and all other purchases; however, not many buyers are in a financial position to spend this much money at one time, but while you are at the mall, make notes of prices on items that may be on your future shopping lists..

No matter the direction you take out of Opelika, you can find outlet malls, such as Tanger Mall in Foley, but it is not at all unusual to find only a solitary building devoted to outlet items, often where the merchandise is manufactured as with some mills.

Most items on your list will probably be items that you buy over and over so you should know how much you usually pay for this item. If you don’t know the price, you can’t know if it is a bargain.

If you find yourself traveling during a holiday season, look for additional savings. Outlet malls are known for holiday and end-of-the-year savings, just be sure you know your prices and remember the difference between a want and a need and what the word “shop” really means.


Bita Bullet is the pen name of a local anonymous writer who can be reached at