Friday, December 11, 2015

Where Do You Shop? The Pros And Cons

As one of my co-parents at Mary’s school says, the holiday season is the most expensive time of the year.  Admittedly, shopping is inevitable! :) It is the traditional time for gift giving.  There are a lot of holiday deals going on and for some it’s the perfect time to shop just in time for Christmas.  So where do you usually shop?  As an online retailer of girl's boutique clothing, I would like to share some pros and cons of shopping at each type of retail store.

Louis Vuitton | Venice | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique
Our 2 year old Mary was attracted to the window display of Louis Vuitton store in Venice.

Mall Stores / Department Stores

Mall stores / department stores provide huge discounts especially during the end of the fashion season. This is because their inventory is already in house, their transportation cost has been incurred, and so, they’re really willing to get rid of their inventory as much as they can.  The pros -- on top of the deals currently offered, they can offer additional discounts if you have store credit cards.  But the one thing that I don’t really like when you shop at mall stores is the lack of exclusivity.  There’s a huge chance of bumping into someone who shopped the same sale and wears the same shirt, dress or blouse especially if you’re from the same town or vicinity.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II | Milan | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique
Who would not like shopping at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the world renowned mall in Central Milan.  Browsing can be counted as a memorable experience.

Brick and Mortar Specialty Boutiques

I personally love shopping at specialty boutiques. It's a very relaxing shopping experience since you can really take your time browsing the boutique's collection. It has a very relaxed ambiance and there’s no huge crowds.  If exclusivity is your number one priority it’s better to shop here. The cons -- retail prices can be a bit higher especially because most of the specialty boutiques' merchandise are curated and designer pieces. The merchandise here are mostly boutique brands and are not mass produced. The collection is basically based on the taste of the boutique owner so it’s great to find a specialty boutique that really matches your taste. 

Quebec City | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique
A strip of specialty boutiques in Quebec City.

Outlet / Discount Stores

Outlet stores provide attractive retail prices and it’s also targeting tourists because anytime of the year, they offer lower prices than the regular stores.  However, brand owners now design and manufacture items that are meant to be sold at outlet stores.  Some of these outlet items were not even displayed at their regular retail stores.  In this case, the materials used might be very different. Brand owners do this so that they can offer much lower prices.

If you’re not very particular about it, then, you might be satisfied shopping at outlet stores but just take note that it is not always past season merchandise that you're buying. In a lot of cases, you're getting intentionally inferior products just to get the cost down, so it’s better to check the quality and material composition so that you’ll be happy about your purchase.

Woodbury Commons Outlet | NY | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique
Woodbury Commons Outlet in NY.  Photo courtesy of Woodbury Commons.

 Flash Sites

Who doesn’t love shopping at flash sites?! Whenever they send their schedule of sales, it’s hard not to visit the site and browse at the collection. They offer great discounts and there’s no need to wait for a sale because it’s always on sale.  The cons, of course is that these are all past season collections. If you’re very conscious about the latest in fashion trends, this may not be the best way for you to shop. You also have to buy soon to avail of the sale otherwise the item quickly becomes sold out. Also, shipping lead time can be an issue because most of these sites are doing drop shipment -- when you place your order, they forward your order to the brand owners and the brand owners then fulfill your order. Sometimes, there is a long wait before your order arrives and sometimes you don’t even know the status of your order.  It happened to me so many times, and I'm really so tired of waiting!

Rue La La | Sale | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique
Schedule of Sales at Rue La La.

Online Malls/Online Department Store

If you’re fond of browsing at mall stores/ department stores, this is the best way for you to shop especially when you don’t have time to actually go to the mall.  You can also avail of end of season sales or even special discounts for online shoppers.  Some merchandise might also be available only online and usually these online exclusives are good buys.  The cons, same with the physical stores, is that you cannot guarantee exclusivity.  Also based on my own experience, some online department stores have such a huge number of options that it’s no longer fun to browse the collection  -- it's either the site's user interface is too cluttered and can't easily show all the possibilities, or all the products just slow down your browser to a crawl.

Nordstrom | Holiday | Chichi Mary Online Kid's Boutique
Nordstrom's front page this holiday season.

Online specialty store/boutique

Of course, this is my favorite (wink, wink!).  As an owner of an online girl’s boutique, I had so many inspirations about why I decided to put up Chichi Mary.  It is definitely the combination of my love for brick & mortar specialty boutiques and online shopping.  Whenever we travel, I’m keener to discovering and exploring boutiques around the area.  I still remember this small shoe shop at Martha’s Vineyard that really inspired me to open my own.  When I entered the boutique, it was so small but the merchandise was admiringly laid out.  The best part -- they offered some of my favorite brands available at the mall/department stores but the collection was entirely different.  I found out when I became an online retailer that most of the brands offer a different collection for department stores and boutiques.  And so, if you’re really looking for exclusivity, search for specialty boutiques within your area or even better find an online specialty boutique where you can shop anytime of the day -- glass of wine optional ;)

Chichi Mary | An Online Kid's Boutique | Girl's Clothing & Shoes
Chichi Mary's front page.

Usually for some people, they’re really looking for online specialty boutiques that carry hard to find and unique items.  It’s a great shopping experience to browse a curated collection. And in Chichi Mary’s case, the products always have a designer’s touch to go along with great craftsmanship.  Because the products are unique, well-made and exclusive, the prices can be higher compared to your department store choices.  But the thing is, if you love getting deals then sign up for their newsletter. Also follow them on social media so that you’ll know when these stores are having their sales because usually, you can avail of great discounts to go along with the superb quality. 

Of course, it’s also important to check the credibility of online specialty stores.  Check out customer reviews or press releases to ensure that you’re shopping at a reliable online specialty store.  It' also a must to read product descriptions and take a look at the size guides.  Once you find your favorite online specialty store, believe me you’ll always go back again and again J

Remember -- this holiday season or whenever you do shopping anytime of the year, don't buy just because you find a "can-t pass-up" deal because you might just end up wasting money.  It's always great to purchase something that you'll cherish for a long time!


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