July 22, 2007

Outlet Shopping in New Jersey

Growing up in the shadow of Giants Stadium, I've learned a bit about Noo Joisey over the years. At one point I had a (short-lived) job there working concessions for soccer games. That's how I got to see Soccer legend Pele make his magic. But before there was a Giants Stadium, there were the outlets.

These really were your Grandma's outlets: the manufacturers opened up primitive retail shops right there in the front office, or even on the factory floor itself. Now those were the days! My mother raised me as a shopper, and she knew how and where to hunt for quality and bargains. The first factory outlet I can remember shopping in was Crazy Horse in Paterson. The name is of course politically incorrect, and the brand as I remember it doesn't seem to exist anymore, having been apparently co-opted by Liz Claiborne and JC Penney.

Outlets nowadays have morphed well beyond their humble factory origins. Given that there is virtually no more clothing manufacturing happening in the Garden State, it would be a misnomer to call the clothing outlets here factory outlets. While warehouse outlets exist, most of the so-called outlets in Secaucus and Flemington are of a different ilk. Tarted-up strip malls with junky merchandise masquerading as a bargain are more likely what the shopper will see. I have no experience with Woodbury Commons in New York state, and so can offer no opinion about the stores there.

But for the working woman, and especially the working woman who knits, there is a beacon in Secaucus! Eileen Fisher is a fabulous line of women's clothing, very comfortable, wearable, classic, and perfect for the office. Her clothing is monochromatic and is a perfect companion to a handknit piece. The thing to do at Eileen Fisher Secaucus is to sign up for their mailing list. Twice a year, the store holds a blowout sale, and last weekend I dragged Alan to a shopping orgy. He's great to have as my personal shopper: he is very tall and has long arms, so he can hold lots of merchandise and reach everything. He was quite willing to hunt around for sizes, and was a great sport about the whole day. When he wasn't at my beck and call, he was playing musical chairs with the other men who had accompanied women to EFS that day. There were only four chairs, and they were coveted by every man in the store! Alan held his own, as you can imagine.

To thank him for a job well done, I treated him to a steak dinner at Steve's Sizzling Steaks. If you live or work in the Rutherford area and you haven't tried Steve's, what are you waiting for? It's a place not to be missed by a steak lover!

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