Does 'new' Harwin mean higher prices?

August 28, 2008 7:41:38 PM PDT
Savvy shoppers in Houston refer to it as "bargain mile." We're talking about Harwin Street, that stretch in southwest Houston lined with warehouse-style stores. But if you haven't been to Harwin lately, you may not recognize it anymore. In the last few years, the area has exploded with new construction and dozens of new stores. Does that mean the prices will be going up?

Most of the building boom can be found just as you enter the area at the intersection of Hillcroft and Harwin. You'll still find plenty of signs touting jewelry, purses, and perfume. but now modern strip centers are replacing the shabby rundown warehouses.

Nickey Fowler shops Harwin every week. She says she likes the new look, but...

"I feel like everything is going up," she said. "It's so pricy."

She believes the new store fronts, coffee shops and restaurants are to blame.

"I have not found the deals that I used to," said Fowler.

But are the prices really any different? We decided to price compare between the old and the new. We checked the designer perfume prices at one of the new shops called "Sony." They were actually cheaper there than they were at the longstanding "Perfume Paradise." We also found a $100 watch the same price at almost every store, give or take a couple of bucks.

At Kevin's Formal Wear in one of the new strip centers, we found the same deep discounts. Designer dresses that normally retail for $200 to $300 were on sale for $35.

"Very good prices, if people are looking at stretching their dollar or trying to save money, this is the place," promised business owner Rajan Bhati.

Still, some longtime Harwin shoppers said they're not sold.

"The new side seems to be a little more pricy," said shopper Brittany Taggart.

Taggart says despite our findings, she's sticking to what she knows -- the Harwin of old.

"You know the owners, they know you. They know what you are looking for. They call me if I want something, so I tend to stick on this end," she said.

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