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How to Rock the Outlets at Castle Rock

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There is a moment when you notice that your pants have worn dangerously bare in the seat. You might see it as you’re folding them, the threads stretched to their mightiest. At that moment you consider your tight budget and shrug: Pushing your dollars to their limit is better than walking around with your underthings on display. Such a moment provided the exact reason–the only reason–I ended up at the Outlets at Castle Rock on Memorial Day weekend.

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Let’s get some annoyances out of the way. Will you encounter lots of tiny children with disproportionately large lungs? Yes. Are the parking lots sprawling, leaving you squinting and confused, looking for your Subaru in a sea of Foresters while your plastic bags cut heavily against your fingers? Yes.

But the clothes are cheap, and these brand names tend to look better on aging human bodies like mine than, say, Target’s teenish styles. Better yet, $150 managed to refresh my limp summer wardrobe and buy me a new pair of running shoes.

Here are a few reasons to brave the absurdity of the outlet malls and come out with some screaming deals.

Make a map: I didn’t go in with a good plan. I knew I needed running shoes, but I still have no idea how I ended up with a bikini. Check out a list of the stores here. I also recommend looking at a map and planning your time. The sprawl disoriented me, and I started to feel a little like Man Vs. Wild while I tried to find the Gap.

Extra deals: It was a fluke that I ventured out on Memorial Day, when most stores took an extra 40 percent off the lowest price marked. Check here (and scroll down the page) to find any additional deals the stores might be offering. For example, right now Columbia is advertising 50 percent off certain youth clothing, and Van Heusen is extending an additional 50 percent off the entire store.

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Entertainment and events: During my time at the outlets, a live band braved the rain and even supplied its own country line dancers. It made my shopping experience at Banana Republic…well…unique. There are often musical acts on Saturday afternoons, and during the week stroller-fit classes are available for moms who want to combine exercise and bargain shopping.

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