The next best thing to manufacturers' outlets are the outlets for major chains where markdown merchandise ends up after prices have been slashed several times.
Usually, the formula is 50% off when the item arrives at the outlet store, and from then on whatever reductions will move it out. Obviously, there are some items at these stores that no one wants. If, however, you're a maverick, it's easy to score. And anyone with good shopping credentials can find deals.
In the Los Angeles area, we have the final resting places for The Gap and for Ann Taylor, at the Citadel in the City of Commerce at 5675 E. Telegraph Road.
Inventory from the various Miller's Outpost stores ends up in Montclair at their clearance store, which is called California Fit, at 9460 Central Ave.
Nordstrom has its Nordstrom Rack stores: The Topanga Rack is at 21500 Victory Blvd., Woodland Hills; the Chino Rack is at 5537 Philadelphia St., and the Santa Ana Rack is at 3900-C S. Bristol St. In San Diego, the store is at 824 Camino del Rio Norte.
If you're a Broadway shopper, here are four locations where their clearance merchandise ends up: 8333 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys; menswear is on the first floor, women's apparel is on two, and home furnishings and housewares are on three.
The other stores are 444 N. Euclid St., Anaheim; 3400 N. Peck, El Monte, and 2727 N. Grand Ave., Santa Ana.
The May Co. clearance centers are called The Budget Store and there are three in the area: 3447 S. Grand Ave. and 6067 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles, and 1530 W. Covina Blvd., West Covina.
The downtown location of Robinson's at 700 W. 7th St. is the receptacle for that chain's markdowns. Clothing is on the fourth floor and furniture is on six.
If you want to see the leftovers from Bullock's, check out the fourth floor of the Lakewood store at 5005 Clark Ave.
Standard Shoes has its outlet store in Hawthorne at 12345 Hawthorne Blvd.
The J.C. Penney Catalog Outlet Store at 6651 Fallbrook Ave., West Hills, is the only outlet for Penney's catalogue merchandise in the West.
Sears has several outlet stores where the inventory is mostly catalogue merchandise, although some items come from its retail stores: 1327 Encinitas Blvd., Encinitas; 9045 Adams Ave., Huntington Beach; 828 W. Ave. K, Lancaster; 13927 Pioneer Blvd., Norwalk; 1585 E. Highland Ave., San Bernardino; 3550 College Ave., San Diego; 2245 N. Tapo St., Simi Valley; 304 E. Foothill Blvd., Upland, and (2750 E. Main St., Ventura.
In the San Francisco area, there are outstanding bargains at the I. Magnin Finale store at 500 S. El Camino Real in San Mateo.
In any clearance situation, the merchandise is a mixed bag: There are some treasures--and some absolute dogs. But the prices are almost always worth the digging.