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January 4, 2007
From journal A week of Sports and Sightseeing in San Francisco
Mexico City, Mexico
February 21, 2005
Gilroy is apparently the garlic capital of the world. The smell is thick in the air but somehow fast forgotten after a few minutes of acclimatization. Interstate 101 cuts right through the town, making it an obvious stop for gas and perhaps a quick meal. So why would the Becks family make this a day trip - and not for the first time, either? It was really our third trip here; my wife simply would not dream of passing through without spending several hours. Actually, staying over in the local Comfort Inn would sound to her like a darn good idea, too. Well, Gilroy has a massive outlet mall with all her favorite brands, and a few of mine, from Calvin Klein to DKNY and Etienne Aigner shoes. It is the place to become broke while saving money.
My first brush with outlet shops came as a student, when we would visit the actual factory and buy the rejects on the premises. Some had obvious mistakes, but sometimes a seemingly perfect pair of CK jeans would dissolve in the first wash! The real bargains were those items that were in perfect condition but labeled the wrong sizes. Of course, changing rooms were conspicuous in their absence, so friends simply had to stand wide while you struggled in and out of a series of, at first glance, perfectly fitting jeans. Prices were appropriately low.
Gilroy Premium Outlets is a completely different experience. The around 150 shops here are modern, well lit, and for all practical purposes, look like their normal counterparts but offer discounts from around 25% to 70% off the normal sales price. However, the trade-off is that not all sizes, colors, and styles are available. Very few shops actually have the seconds I knew from my student days – most seem to sell overstocked items or the previous season’s items. The latter works out quite well for people who prefer to buy spring clothes in spring rather than in the midst of winter as most shops, for not immediately obvious reasons, expect one to do.
On previous trips, we had passed by in early January to take advantage of the post-Christmas sales. On some memorable occasions, the original discount of up to 70% off was supplemented by a further discount of up to 50% off. In mid-November, we did not expect the same savings and did not find them either. However, we still saved enough to make the trip worth our while. We also enjoyed the things we never had in Japan and only rarely in Germany – an abundance of free parking and driving to the other end of the mall rather than walking. It is a good idea to pick up a map of the mall from one of the information counters, or print it out from the website and plan the savings assault. The stores are grouped into four separate, roughly U-shaped buildings, with parking in the center of each building. Catering is rather uninspired, and eating is best done elsewhere.
From journal Return to Monterey