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Dress for less: It’s all in the math

September 2011

Ladies, it’s time to revamp your fall wardrobe, so why not head out to fashion discount stores and save some hard-earned cash?

How can discount shops sell the same name-brand merchandise as the major stores?

The answer is all in the math. If you cut your costs, you can pass on the savings to your customers. These shops will rent space in a place were the rent is lower—perhaps up or down a few stairs, or on a street with less traffic, or in a strip of stores that is less expensive.

Most of them are run by the owners, so their labour costs are curtailed. They do not have to pay the advertising fees of a premier mall. They do not renovate their shops every year or two.

They probably pay right away for their merchandise, so they buy at excellent prices, too.

Remove these costs, lower the prices, and voila, customers are happy. You can stay in business using word-of-mouth advertising for many years. The stores mentioned below have been using this business model for 28, 92 and 67 years, respectively. Not only do you get premier brands for less, you get fabulous service and fashion advice thrown in free.

Boutique Avantage is a lovely boutique that has been open since 1983 and has just finished a spiffy renovation. You will receive great service, and the shop is fully stocked (sizes 4-18) with those labels you love—Gerry Weber, Rabe, Spanner, Junge, Conrad C, Katherine Barclay and Vex. Scarves, purses, hats and high-fashion jewelry can finish off your look and make this one-stop shopping. They remember their clients, so you always feel connected. Taxes are included in the prices.

1264 Beaumont. 514-733-1185. Mon.-Fri. 10-6, Sat. 10-5.

For 92 years, the Sheinart family has handed down, from generation to generation, one simple concept: Buy brand-name fashions (Joseph Ribkoff, Animale, Utex, Conrad C, Frank Lyman, Lana Lee) and sell them for the right price along with sincere customer service.

They have casual wear, but specialize in dresses, from day to evening for galas, mother of the bride, bridesmaids and prom (sizes 0 to 30). In the winter, they have a large collection of coats and jackets, and there is a bargain basement.

3001 St. Antoine W. 514-932-6504. Regular hours, plus Sun. 12-5.

Boutique Mary Seltzer has always been a family-run business, known as one of the first discounters in Montreal. It offers great pricing and highly personalized service (even occasionally going to housebound regular customers).

The clothes breach the gap from office to casual. You can get 30 per cent or more off on famous names like Simon Chang, Alison Sheri, Vex, Spanner, Conrad C and more. It’s like having a personal shopper who knows your look and buys items just for you. Young professionals would do well to come here to save time and money.

7380 Côte St. Luc. 514-369-1579. Mon.-Sat. 10-5 and by appointment.



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