Shopping Choices - Stores & Catalogs



Before you buy, first make sure you really need the item and if so how quickly you need it.  Think about it—impulse purchases can cost you a lot of money over time.  Spend a few minutes doing research on the Internet or talk to your friends before you buy.  Stores have a lot of pluses; primarily you can physically see an item and/or try it on.  Neighborhood stores are also easy to get to and return an item if necessary.  You also know who you are dealing with.  Hey, shopping with friends can be fun too!  There are lots of different types of stores you can purchase from.  Become familiar with your choices before you decide which one is right for you.  You will probably purchase from different store categories based on your budget, what they carry and which is closest to you.  Check out your different options, you might be surprised at what some stores carry.


Department Stores

Like Macy’s, Lord & Taylor or Bloomingdale’s.  Some communities still have local department stores, but most are either regional or part of a national chain.  Department stores provide lots of variety. You can try things on, browse and see lots of different types of merchandise all under one roof.  You can shop with your friends and you can find something for everyone.  You will find more upscale trendy merchandise at premium prices. They will be more expensive than discount or outlet stores. These stores sell apparel, accessories, cosmetics, shoes. Some also sell items for the kitchen, domestics (things that go on your table or bed) and sometimes luggage.  If possible, wait until an item goes on sale. These stores have great sales. There are also more moderate-priced department stores like JC Penny, Sears (which also carries hardware), and Kohl’s ( a hybrid with merchandise priced lower than a department store and higher than a discount store).  Department stores are primarily in malls, or free standing in your downtown area.


Specialty Stores

As a teen you probably are the most familiar with specialty Stores like Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch.  Specialty stores are generally more expensive than department stores.  These stores cater to a specific group of consumers (could be by age, lifestyle or physique).  However, a hot store this year can become old in a few years’ time, especially those geared toward the teen and young adult market.  Specialty stores can be in the mall, or downtown.


Discount Stores

Discount stores like Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target.  Here you can get everything that department stores carry, such as clothing, but also toothpaste, pots and pans, stereo and sporting equipment and basic food… a one stop shop, generally for less.  The decor is basic and you can use a shopping cart.  Not as high end, you won’t find the latest fashion designer here, but you can get more for less.  Great for the basics and for items you want to wear for a short period of time then throw away at the end of a trip or season.

There are also multi-brand discount apparel stores.  These stores purchase close-outs from other retailers and manufacturers and sell them to you at deep discounts.  Stores in this category are primarily apparel stores such as, Burlington Coat Factory, Syms, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.  Sometimes these stores are also referred to as discount stores.  You have to spend a little more time going through the racks, but you can find some really good bargains.

You could also put stores like Dollar General, Everything for a Dollar and Odd Lots here too.  These are deep discount stores.  They buy merchandise from other stores that might be going out of business, or manufacturers who have too much inventory.   These stores are great not only for people on a budget but smart people trying to save a few dollars.   While sometimes these stores are located in a mall, they are often free standing stores.


Outlet Stores

Oulet Stores most of the time are clustered together in outlet malls.  These stores offer last season’s merchandise, over runs, returns and irregulars at discount prices.  However, some manufacturers actually make "new" merchandise to be sold in the outlet stores. It is a great place to shop for teens to shop with your friends.  Before you go the the outlet stores, shop the specialty stores  and department stores to understand prices. Take note of prices and styles to make sure you are really getting a good bargain when you shop the outlet stores.

Sometimes a department store’s sale will be cheaper than an outlet store’s price.  Examine the merchandise carefully before you buy.  These stores are primarily located in outlet malls or areas in some towns that specialize in outlet shopping.  They are generally close, but not in major cities since they do not want to pull customers from full price stores.


Thrift Second Hand & Consignment Stores

You can find amazing items at these stores, especially if you live in or near a big city.  Often people buy things, use them once or twice and then want something else.  Their taste, size or needs might change.  These stores carry everything from apparel to furniture.  They are all, since they are used, at great bargain prices.  When shopping these kinds of stores, give yourself some extra time, because they are not as well organized as traditional stores.  If you have a good fashion sense, you can find great items and put them together with things you might already have in your closet and create an awesome and unique fashion statement. As a teen this is a great place for cheap chic.  You can really stand out or be a trend setter with your friends.  Go as a group, and see who can find the best look.

There are often plenty of choices in major cities, and some communities will also have them.  Some are independent; some affiliated with a religious group or charity where the sales go to the group.  Not only are you getting a great deal, but you are helping a worthy cause.  Thrift and Second Hand stores carry merchandise that has been donated.  Consignment stores carry merchandise that still belongs to the owner.  If the store sells the merchandise then the sale is split between the owner and seller though not always 50/50.  If the merchandise does not sell, the store owner can return it to the merchandise owner.



If you find a brand you love that fits and you want to select the latest fashion from inside your home then catalogs are great.  If you have a hobby or interest you can keep up to date on the latest gadgets from catalogs too.  Catalogs can be mailed to your home, but often you can also view them on the web.