Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Don't start shopping without a plan. Here are Annie Groer's tips for surviving the Rehoboth Beach outlets during the holidays.

¿ Before leaving home, check the Tanger Outlets Web site ( and print coupons for favorite stores.

¿ Dress for combat: slip-on shoes, easy-to-remove clothing, specialty lingerie (particularly important if you want something with lots of spandex or cleavage).

¿ On arrival, go to customer service for the two coupon books available. One is free with a AAA card, while the other costs $10 ($5 for seniors). The booklets don't always overlap and don't cover all stores.

¿ Customer service has free wheelchairs for use while shopping; baby strollers are $3 a day. Both require driver's license info.

¿ Don't be shy. In each store, ask the staff about hot deals; if you see a customer with something you covet, ask where it came from.

¿ Buy multi-packs of things to subdivide (akin to cutting up a whole chicken for several dishes). Turn six holiday candles into two sets of three or three sets of two. My great coup was a $15 men's accessories bonanza in a leatherette box at Van Heusen: a cool everyday watch and pen for moi; a slippery yellow polyester tie, plus tie bar, for a jazz pianist pal; and the matching cuff links for a colleague's dapper son. Such a deal.

¿ When shopping with others, comparable speed and decisiveness levels are recommended. If you finish first, bring a trash novel to read or do some aerobic power-walking.

¿ A cellphone is essential for all group members: "I'm in the ladies' room, where are you?" or "Rush to Ann Taylor, the cashmere sweaters are fab" or "Can we go home now?"

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