When I wrote about Sara's Designer Outlet in February 1994, it was a small shop in Woodland Hills.Today it's simply called Sara's and has moved to a much larger shop in Toluca Lake. In addition to designer fashions, the extra space leaves plenty of room for displaying the owner's sculpture and paintings. This combination of art and fashion is not a new one, but the fact that the artist is also the proprietor and that the prices are deeply discounted is unusual.
Recently, a sharp shopper familiar with some of the labels often on the racks here for less than retail prices, walked into Sara's with the new Nordstrom catalog in hand. "I'm looking for this, but not at this price," she said, pointing to a three-piece semi-casual outfit for $189. Proprietor Sara Shai pulled it off the rack and showed her the tag: $98.
Another piece with the same label (which shall be nameless in this column) that retails for $210 is tagged at $85, and a black chiffon, floor-length gown that was also $210 is $99.
Casual wear is also on the racks, including designer T-shirts priced at $19.95 (retail $50) and some zippered sweat jackets that sell elsewhere for $89, marked $39. There's hardly an item in the store for over $100, and a local milliner designs some stunning hats ranging from $15 to $29. Shai makes her buys from local manufacturers' over cuts and handpicks everything, often buying one of-a-kind designer samples.
While saving money on elegant outfits, there is also the opportunity to purchase original art at affordable prices. Sculpture is Shai's forte, and a cast-in-stone torso of "Mother and Child" is a modest $195.
Sara's, 10216 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake; (818) 755-9070. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. All major credit cards accepted.
Weekend Super Sale
Local manufacturers and retailers regularly donate goods to the City of Hope, which offers them for sale to the public at its Town Fair Bazaar on Saturday. You'll find apparel for the whole family, party supplies, housewares and backpacks and school supplies. All proceeds go directly to City of Hope.
City of Hope Town Fair Bazaar, 317 S. Crocker St., Los Angeles. Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Cash, checks only. (213) 488-0832.