How to save money at the outlets

HOUSTON If you're looking to save a bundle on top of tax, you may be looking at alternative shopping options like the outlet malls -- but are they worth the drive?

We checked out the new Houston Premium Outlets off 290 in Cypress. It's about 30 miles from downtown Houston, and we were shocked by some of the bargains, and we're not talking last season or damaged goods. The Houston Premium Outlets have items that departments stores and the malls are currently carrying, but for only a fraction of the cost.

"We travelled an hour to get here and it's been well worth it," shopper Michelle Stevens said.

Stevens was a little hesitant on making the 52 mile trip from Friendswood until she found some great buys for her son.

"His Under Armour stuff that I pay $40 and $50 for, we got for $9.99 here," she said. "You can't beat that."

She also found a Coach travel bag for $200. At the regular price that would have cost her $409. That's a savings of more than 50 percent! And, you can still find this same bag at the department stores.

"My husband will very happy that we came here instead of the mall," Stevens said.

And over at the Nike Factory Store, "the price here [for this pair of sneakers] was $59.99 and I paid $89.99 at the mall," shopper Kathy Braun said.

Braun is scoring on some sneakers for her daughter. She found a pair of Nike Shox for $59.99. That's $30 less than what she paid at the mall. Now she will return the first pair.

"That would be a money saver for sure, so any little bit helps," Braun said.

Men's golf shorts are $45 at the Nike store, but here at the outlet they cost $29.99 with an additional 20 percent off.

We found savings of 50 to 70 percent off at Kenneth Cole's Company Store.

Take for example these men's slacks. They cost $24.98 here at the store, but at the mall right now they retail for $128!

We found more bargains at Cole Haan, a designer shoe and purse store. Purses and shoes were 40 to 75 percent off. It's a savings we saw over and over again, even at the upscale stores like Kate Spade, Lucky Brand Jeans, and Calvin Klein, something a mother and daughter team took advantage of.

"My Mom would have spent about $300 to $400 in Jones New York, but her things turned out to be $90 to $100 [here]," Candace Brooks said.

Many shoppers told us they got an additional discount for providing their e-mail address to the retailer at checkout, so be sure to ask when you are paying at the counter if there are any other ways to save money.

To find out more about Houston Premium Outlets, just click here. To learn more about Katy Mills, follow this link.

Also, for more on the tax-free weekend coming up, check out the list of exempt items.

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