Buying Le Creuset at their outlets - prices not great
I visited a Le Creuset outlet store this weekend for the first time, and was surprised that given that on this board people often recommend the outlet for good prices, the prices didn't seem great to me. Now, that may be b/c I live in NYC, and places like Broadway Panhandler generally have very good discounts. The only deals I found were on a table with things that were drastically reduced - four round ramekins for $2.99, a huge oval ceramic casserole w/ lid for $39.99 and a small squarish casserole w/ lid for $14.99. Other than that (and the seconds on the enamel ware, which were about 15% off the discounted price for first quality), the prices were pretty much what I kind find here ($101, off from $150, for a enamel cast iron pate terrine). The Riedel glasses were actually more expensive than at William Sonoma - I had just looked at them there last week, and at Le Creuset, they were a couple of dollars more per glass. (BTW - The Brown Derby is a great place to buy Riedel at a discount.)
So, I had fun browsing and am happy with my purchases, but would urge buyers not to assume that the outlet has the best prices.
There are a couple of factors to make purchasing at the outlet stores quite the bargain.
Le Creuset will sell items at a discount, that they call "seconds". Their version of a flaw can be so insignificant that you would never notice, and I mean NEVER.
Le Creuset also has twice yearly (right around Thanksgiving and Christmas) sales on all of their outlet merchandise.
To sum it up, if you can find a beautiful "second" during their sale, you have really scored.
If Williams Sonoma decides to change the colors of Le Creuset at their stores, then they will drastically cut the price of the discontinued Le Creuset pots. The last time they changed the color scheme was in 2004 when I was working at a store and I got a 5.5 qt. for $50 with my 20% discount - it was a steal even without the discount.
If you live near a Williams Sonoma outlet then look there too. I know there is one in Virginia, about an hour from DC, and a big outlet in Memphis somewhere.
I agree about the discontinuation of colors and price reductions.
I scored a grill pan several years ago, which was in an apparently undesireable color for most people (kind of a weird yellow). I didn't care - I was poor, I needed the pan and for $25, I was thrilled.
Funny thing is here it is about 10 years later and I actually have grown to love the color. It reminds me of the color of a cheap dutch oven my mom used to cook in.
I'm eagerly awaiting for people to get bored with the current colors so I can (hopefully) jump on a few much needed pieces.
But in general, those outlets stores are nothing special - I avoid them for the most part. Oh, other than the Coach stores - I always can find something I like there LOL.
I think that once outlet stores (or places like Filene's Basement) became a regular merchandising channel in their own right with storefronts all over the place, the original idea basically went to hell. These days no one carries anything for long that doesn't fly off the shelves, so there's not much in the way of leftovers to have to get rid of (just like remaindered books are basically a thing of the past, too.) A 15% discount off list for something they would otherwise have to literally throw away or physically recycle is a joke, and certainly not the sort of pricing you used to find in real "outlets."