bargain hunter shopping
By: Jen Karetnick
Stylish and inexpensive are not mutually exclusive terms, especially here in Miami. Sure, we have an array of high-priced fashion items and worldly goods—if you’re a designer, brand-name shopper with deep pockets, Bal Harbour Shops, featuring Gucci, Hermes, Chanel and more awaits. But if you like to stretch your dollar, an intriguing assortment of well priced shops, outlets, thrift, vintage and consignment stores are always stocked with something that will give you a real bang for your buck.
For a bonanza of brand-name bargains, head southwest to Dolphin Mall. A plethora of department store outlets— more than 240--include Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, Michael Kors, Coach Outlet, Kenneth Cole Outlet Store, Banana Republic Factory Store, and Bloomingdale's The Outlet Store. Given the options, this is the best place for those hoping to score specific items or fill out a gift list.
If you enjoy shopping outlets, don’t neglect the Florida Keys Outlet Center. Located in Florida City – a perfect pit stop on the way to the Keys – the plaza features 55 designer and brand-name outlets, including Coach, Gap Outlet, Guess, Nike, Nine West and Tommy Hilfiger.
The elegance of the outdoor structures at the Shops of Midtown Miami, a hybrid multi-use, live-work-play area, may make it seem pricey. But this sprawling, multi-block mall hosts several large chains stores that cater to residents: Target, Marshalls, Ross Dress for Less, West Elm, HomeGoods and Loehmann’s.
In particular, Loehmann’s caters to the forward fashions of the region, and you’ll find clothing and accessories that scream “Miami” sun and fun. They’re wearable souvenirs that will forever remind you of your vacation—and make your friends envious at the same time. The Guess Factory Store is another great way to score cred; off-price but high-quality handbags, wallets, bathing suits and clothing are up for grabs.
Search and Rescue: Thrift and Vintage Shopping
If you prefer one-of-a-kind outfits Miami has scores of vintage and thrift stores so you don’t have to worry about an accidental twin at a party or night out. A favorite is around the corner from Town Center Aventura, located on West Dixie Highway. It’s called The Rabbit Hole, and in addition to vintage costumes of eras from about the 40s and 50s forward, it stocks new work from young, independent designers at very affordable prices.
You’ll come across plenty of thrift shops in trendy Miami, some vaguely nameless, others well-known like Goodwill Industries. A recently remodeled Red, White and Blue Thrift Store features large aisles and products ranging from backyard to closet and is in a whole thrift store strip mall called Flamingo Plaza. Don’t lose out on an item at these popular and very affordable second-hand stores by not bringing enough cash; many don’t accept credit cards.
Vintage shopping may not always look like the most affordable option compared to chain stores and major retail names, but it’s a great way to find unique designer duds at more affordable prices – guaranteed. Just a few years of wear can really slash the price tag down.
For impeccable vintage, cross over to Biscayne Boulevard and 137th Street and check into C. Madeleine’s. This wondrous place is laid out according to era, and the clothing is of such quality and preservation standards that costume designers frequently shop here for period films. While the prices are generally a bit higher than other boutiques, you can still find a bargain or two, depending on what you’re looking for, or invest in a previously owned prom, wedding or mother-of the-bride dress. With this kind of selection, you can bet that no one will be wearing the same thing at your event.
Fly Boutique, with two locations, one in the Upper East Side and one on South Beach, has also been around the resale block. Lovingly preserved vintage is presented at both, though the Upper East Side store has more in the way of home décor, and the South Beach site focuses more on clothing—particularly blue jeans, belts and boots. Some find prices high, but if you’re savvy, you can usually find a terrific, well-preserved bargain.
Less organized but a terrific place to dig for goodies, Lotus House in Wynwood is a unique place: It’s designed to train homeless and unskilled women in retail, and proceeds from the clothes and home décor go to the shelter where many of them stay. Here, you can feel good about what you wear in more than one way.
Similarly, Give Good Works sells items in order to give to charity. The focus here is less on clothing and more on furniture, and you can find well-preserved period pieces any direction you turn. The Salvation Army also runs a large store here, and another Goodwill is around the corner.
Call on Consignment
Like thrift and vintage stores, consignment boutiques are popular Miami fixtures. The Fashonista Consignment Boutique in Coconut Grove has one of the best inventories, with designer brands from trendy to classic dominating the rack. Ditto Rebel Miami on the Upper East Side, a favorite for those looking for something to wear for that somewhere special.
Consign of the Times, located just off Lincoln Road, also has an impressive array of iconic outfits, particularly occasion dresses. Less expensive, but more hit-and-miss, is Midtown Consignment. Naturally, coming away empty-handed is the vice of virtuous shopping, but when you do score a deal here, you treasure it. Which, when it comes to shopping with saving in mind, is just as it should be.
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