By Janet Keeler
Palm Beach is synonymous with shopping – high-end designer, vintage consignment and everything in between. The in-between includes an expansive Palm Beach outlet mall where bargains and selection are the big attractions.
It’s a common to see people juggling shopping bags on both arms here as they trek to their cars in vast parking lots or on busy city streets. The consignment shops are loaded with clothes and accessories that celebrate nearly every fashion era of the past 75 years. Not all of the bounty is vintage, because the fashionistas of Palm Beach recycle their clothes regularly, and it’s not a stretch to think you’ll find gems from last year’s designer lines on the crowded racks.
But perhaps you want to buy new. The desire is easily satisfied at the upscale designer shops along Worth Avenue in Palm Beach. Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel will be happy to welcome you.
A note about the geography here is helpful. The area is often generically called Palm Beach but a consultation with the map shows that the Intracoastal Waterway separates Palm Beach from West Palm Beach, two distinct cities. The waterway is narrow but the vibe gap is huge. Palm Beach (pop. 8,500) is the winter playground for the rich and sometimes famous that live in mansions facing the Atlantic Ocean. West Palm Beach (pop. 100,000) has a wider selection of affordable housing and is the seat of Palm Beach County. Bridges connect Palm Beach to the mainland and people move freely back and forth for all sorts of reasons. Shopping is one.
Visible from busy Interstate 95 is the Marketplace at the Outlets, where you can while away an entire day at Whole Foods. There are 20 stories at the Marketplace, which as outlet malls go is small. But wait, there’s more! Adjacent to the Marketplace is Palm Beach Outlets. Its 140 stores pay homage to the 1960s mall that once stood in its place. A 2014 facelift brought shoppers anew to stores such as DKNY and Ann Taylor. There are so many stores to choose that the average shopper will be happy as a Cedar Key clam on arrival. After a few minutes wandering among the lanes lined with windows of enticing summer shorts, handbags and all manner of lotions and potions, that glee might turn into panic. However will you see it all? Well, you could divide your trip into multiple visits. The complimentary West Palm Beach blue line trolley operates from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, obliterating parking woes during the mall’s busiest days. Still, you could conquer the mall by compartmentalizing your day: food, clothes, accessories and personal/home care. Let’s get started.
It’s not many malls that have a grocery store, and Whole Foods is a mighty fine place to start an epicurean journey. Shop early (bring a cooler) or end your day with a Whole Foods safari. Or stop for lunch. Among the most popular items are the store brand 365 Dill Pickle Potato Chips and macaroons from the cookie bar. Yes, cookie bar.There are other places to get nourished for your daylong shopping sojourn. Order sushi and eggrolls at Tobu Oriental Eatery or get a bowl of matzo ball soup at TooJay's, which specializes in traditional deli sandwiches. Sit down at BJ’s for a full meal and don’t pass up the giant cookie known as a Pizookie, laden with chocolate chips and calories. Dine at First Watch for breakfast and lunch if you need a Kale Tonic and a side of millionaire bacon.
It’s best to try on clothes before all that food sampling to prevent those cute jeans from unwelcome snugness. Palm Beach Outlets has dozens of clothing stores for men, women and children that stock outfits for fancy events and laid-back beach days.And if it’s unmentionables, underpinnings, foundations or whatever you like to call the clothes you wear under your clothes, there is a myriad of choices. Lane Bryant specializes in plus sizes; Destination Maternity, Motherhood Maternity and A Pea in the Pod ensure that expectant mothers are supported in comfort; Hanes and Jockey sport wide selections for men and women, and Maidenform is the queen of shapewear. (Shopping for undies first might keep you away from the Pizookie.)
Now that you’re looking good underneath, it’s time to look for outerwear that shines. Head to Calvin Klein for a selection of classic American originals. Same with Ann Taylor and DKNY. The combined outlet malls have a selection of stores where bargains are part of their DNA, including Dress Barn, DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse and Nordstrom Rack.
You can think of beauty in a couple ways. Personal care is one and for that your first stop should be Avalon Nails & Spa for the mani-pedi that you neglected to get before you left for vacation. From there, head to one of several stores that specialize in perfumes, lotions and other skin care products. Among them are Crabtree & Evelyn, Ulta Beauty, Perfumania, Parfum Europa and Fragrance Outlet. You can also look at beauty in the context of the place where you live. This mall has a number of stores where you’ll find items to spruce up your living room (pillows at Bed Bath & Beyond) and make it smell better (candles at Yankee Candle or Pier 1 Imports). The bedroom and your slumber will benefit from a new mattress at Mattress Firm and new bedding for can be found at Bed Bath & Beyond.
A new bauble can set the world straight, whether it’s a sparkling cocktail ring or dangling earrings. Buy a wedding ring at an outlet mall? Why not? Especially if you can get a deal at The Jared Vault and Kay Jewelers Outlet.
There are many places to buy earrings, bangles and trendy necklaces for you or as gifts. Check out Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, TJ Maxx and Versona for fun collections. Watch Station has timepieces, and while eyeglasses aren’t traditionally considered jewelry, some of us certainly wear them as accessories. Two-for-one deals are offered with regularity at Visionworks.
There is no lack of shopping alternatives at the various Palm Beach outlets. Just think though, scoring bargains at Palm Beach Outlets might save you enough coin to book a night at the legendary and historic The Breakers of Palm Beach.
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