Wednesday, May 25, 2011


By popular demand ,and to celebrate my jetting off to the land of Aloha tomorrow, here's my inside skinny on outlet shopping in Hawaii... Enjoy!

SE has well and truly set in. It begins with a short sharp burst of pain rejecting the notion of baring the weight of yet another gleefully overfilled designer bag and ends in a constant thudding ache. I’m fairly certain in other parts of the world this affliction goes under the guise of RSI and I suspect Repetitive Strain Injury seems way more substantial and far less frivolous but the reality is; I have Shoppers Elbow.

We are on Day Three of our Hawaiian procurement and today is serious. This is the endurance event of the shopping week, the other Hawaiian Marathon if you will?

Having done the Waikele junket many times I am pleased to hear of the new shuttle service being provided by Chelsea Premium Outlets for only $5 each way. It has always baffled me that hordes of tourists visit this gargantuan assemblage of great quality outlets annually only to pay a premium getting there in the first place. In years gone by I have traveled there by the Trolley (an outdoor tram like bus, that takes 40 minutes to get there and stops a maddening number of times along the way) for $25 p/p each way, by limo (expensive but fun) at approx $100 return and by hire car (handy for frequent trips to the boot with loot but off-putting to arrive back to scars of screwdriver intrusion in the door locks) approx $50 for the day + insurance and replacement ‘gas.’

Post missing the shuttle out to Waikele because the Concierge gave us the wrong bus stop location (convinced it was his fault and not mine), we negotiate with Warren, a good humoured Japanese American that we learn on our trip out has eight cars in his fleet that he either runs as limos or taxis pending available work. We negotiated him down to $45 from the usual $60 taxi rate and travel in the comfort of an LTD. Warren enlightens us on many historical tales throughout the brisk 25 minute journey and we take his card with the intention of negotiating a trip to the Northshore later in the week.

The pieces of advice that will be most valuable to you upon reaching Waikele are:

• Book the shuttle back the minute you arrive for the trip home. You may need to bring the time forward or push it back but at least you have a booking.
• If you can avoid it, don’t go to the Outlets on a Saturday or Sunday. Monday is a great day to go because new stock is unpacked to replenish what went over the weekend.
• Get your hands on a coupon book from the Information Booth before you part with any cash. Extra discounts won’t always apply but it’s worth asking for an additional 25% off!

My modus operandi is hit the store you think you will buy the most from first, that way if you don’t get the items you thought you would there you don’t have to backtrack to other stores later. In my case it is True Religion. I’m not sure how many others in Australia are converts of True Religion but oh dear. These jeans live up to their namesake. You can expect to pay around $350 upwards pending style and embellishments in Australia. At the Outlet store, from $79.00. Happily snapping up 4 pairs next is Armani Exchange where we get a great assortment of summer tops and some cute jackets, along with some nice smart casual tops for the fellas.

These two stores saw us with a decent collection within the first hour. Michael Kors is always a pleasure and the price of handbags from small clutches to large over-the-shoulder numbers is unbelievable. Small clutches and handbags from $69 to large totes starting at $119, not to mention the additional 25% off you receive for spending $200. Not hard to spend a pretty penny in here, but remember these items are bulky and will have to fit in your suitcase or carry-on.

If you’re smart and can sweet talk the girls behind the counter they may allow you to leave those purchases plus your first two store purchases with them for a few hours.

This frees you up to go absolutely rampant in Saks 5th Avenue, which once you see the vast array on offer – you will. Rows and rows of shoes from Manolos, Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Coach, Juicy Couture and Stuart Weitzman. Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo were on average $250USD with Coach and Juicy Couture from around $70USD. Mens Hugo Boss and Boss shoes from a crazy $130USD, where you will pay approximately $550 in Boss Stores in Australia when not on sale. Sunglasses are another big winner at Saks with labels like; Fendi, Gucci, Dior and Prada from around $60USD.

With the full knowledge there is no way we can carry what is still sitting at Michael Kors as well as what we have just bought, we slink past the store and have a swift browse in Coach before entering Ralph Lauren.

Ralph Lauren is one of those stores at the Outlets that you just never know what you’re going to get; as such you need to be open minded about it. Some years when I visit the guys hit the jackpot, others it’s the girls. This year, thank goodness, it’s the gal’s year.

Polo team polo shirts and shirt dresses from a ridiculous $27USD, a gorgeous Ralph Lauren Black Label satin wrap around ruffle dress shirt for $39USD and loads of little kid’s cutes dresses, polos and skirts. The entire family was clothed with this visit; 19 items for $524USD. Insane stuff!

Beginning to notice our somnolent state we formulate the plan for the last hour and execute it with exactitude.

Struggling to carry the bags we’ve reflexively obtained we disembark at Michael Kors to bring together the entire days haul. Whether out of embarrassment or pure necessity I am unsure, we consolidate, triple bag and discard any superfluous packaging. Still drawing attention from passersby as we make our way to the shuttle and that’s when the SE strikes its final malicious blow. Over the shoulder the bags go!

As we trudge onto the shuttle with 14 Japanese tourists who seem to be afraid they will miss out despite allocated seating, we realize the shuttle out and a car back would have been a good deal smarter.

Arriving back at the Hotel we lumber to the room with great effort. We unpack the bare minimum and head out for a well deserved dinner and a drink.

Limping into the Sunset Bar the barman smiles courteously and shows us to our table, “so you did the marathon?”

Oh yes, we certainly did.

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