Fashion & Travel:
I don't know when they changed, but there was a time when a factory outlet really was at the factory and really did sell over-runs, seconds, unsold lines and such. The shopper had to have sharp eyes to spot the flaws, but there were tremendous bargains to be found.
Here in the South where every town of any size had some kind of textile factory, the outlets were a real attraction to the bargain hunter. My mother and her friends would plan entire days of outlet-hopping, where they would pick an area with a lot of outlets, and just hit all they could until the stores closed. A favorite of my mom's was Rutherford County, North Carolina, where the towns of Spindale and Rutherfordton are located. Besides the big Tanner clothing factory, there were numerous fabric factories. She always came home with bags and bags of the most wonderful fabrics.
I was passing through that area last week, and decided to stop in at a great little antique mall Where I bought a Pucci silk scarf for $5 last year, and then homeward on the old scenic route across a winding mountain road. It was a part of the mountains I had not been through in years. Just outside Rutherfordton, I passed an antique/junk store, hit the brakes, and swung into the parking lot. There on a table outside were bags and bags of mill end pieces of vintage fabrics. All were novelty weaves - not prints, but weaves of various textures.
This was the stash of a long-time sewer and fabric collector, and yes, the pieces did come from some of the area mills, purchased years ago. And at $1 a bag, I just went crazy. Most of the pieces are just a little over a yard, but these are going to make some dandy summer blouses, don't you think?