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DISCOUNT BY DESIGN

It’s a year-round hunting season for off-the-rack bargains
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The Kleins are here (Calvin, Anne, and Charles). So is Perry Ellis. Gloria Vanderbilt is over there, nesding next to Ralph Lauren. And Norma K. is certainly making a hit.

The gathering is not for some swank New York fashion powwow. Instead, the news-making designers are bowing to a different audience: namely, those of us who were born with flat feet, rotating charge cards, and who will die clutching a marked-down Gucci.

Discount mania is on its way to changing the way business is done in Dallas. The proprietors of the proliferating discount shops, outlets, and malls have a hard-to-beat battle slogan: “You don’t have to pay retail anymore!” From plush boutiques to concrete-floored warehouses, star-studded labels mix with lesser-knowns, and they’re all 20 to 40 percent off retail. But beware:

1. Scout a few discount storesfirst. Become aware of whatmerchandise they carry andwhat their refund and exchangepolicies are.

2. In many designer fashions,smaller sizes will run larger. Asize 8 might wear a 6 or even a 4.

3. And don’t hold your breathwaiting for customer service.While a select few stores cater toyour whims, most are strictlyself-service.



SOME OF OUR FAVORITE HUNTING GROUNDS



Burlington Coat Factory: The selection of coats is overwhelming. Hunt for quality merchandise and designer labels (Perry Ellis, Ashley Scott, Liz-Sport). Three locations: North-town Shopping Mall (Webb’s Chapel and Forest); Euless Town Center (1201 Airport Freeway West); Bill’s Factory Outlet Mall (800 Shelby Dr. in Allen).

Hit or Miss: We’ve always found on-target merchandise in this store that caters to the twenty-five- to forty-year-old working woman. The hosiery products are among the best buys. Six locations throughout the Metroplex, including one at the Galleria. Other locations: Prestonwood Town Center; 7529 Campbell Road; 11333 Northwest Highway; 1330 Town East Blvd.; Outlet Malls of America in the Mid-Cities.

Loehman’s: The grandaddy of ’em all sits smack dab in discount heaven on the corner of Northwest Highway and Jupiter Road. Here you can find true designer fashions, along with a lot of off-season merchandise. You have to know what feels right and what doesn’t-all the labels are cut out.

Marshalls: Here, you might have to sort through racks of knock-offs before handling that one great buy. This is an all-purpose, no-frills experience. Loads of locations: 7609 Campbell Road; 11333 E. Northwest Highway: 317 Forest Lane; 1432 Precinct Line Road (Hurst), 5200 S. Hulen St., Fort Worth).

PM Place: Park Cities shoppers are slowly finding out the secret: discounted Polos for boys among other designer buys. On Hillcrest, south of Milton Avenue.

Ross Dress For Less: Check out the shoes at this “off-price chain that specializes in soft goods and domestic merchandise.” Spokesmen claim that prices are 20 to 60 percent off retail, but not all the merchandise is the same at all stores. Most of the merchandise is current season, but 5 percent is irregular. Loads of locations, among them: 4550 Buckingham Road; 3046 Forest Lane; 1950 Promenade Shopping Center; 3200 Camp Wisdom Road.

Rothschild’s Designers Den: One of our favorite shops, Rothschild’s is more like a retail boutique than the others. The owners emphasize fashion knowledge and customer service. Shoes, too. Three area locations: 9820 N. Central Expressway at The Corners Shopping Center; 14639 Inwood Rd.; Interstate 30 and FM157 (Arlington).

T.H. Mandy: We know those who swear by this store, and it’s easy to see why when cashmere sweat-ers can be found for $25 to $49. Old Town in the Village: 5500 Greenville Ave.

Whatchamacallit: The discount business has certainly gone uptown with this Lovers Lane address. Oodles of designer labels, all 20 percent off. Two area locations: 5401 W. Lovers Lane; 17194 Preston Road at Campbell.

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