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Shopping in Orlando

April 30th, 2008

As a repatriated foreign national, I am often ‘lucky’ enough to have both the near and extended family come stay with me for their summer holidays - a season we are on the very brink of now.

Aside from host, tour guide, butler, chef, chamber maid and free lodging, one of the main duties I fulfill is personal shopper, a role that my fiancée is far suited too, but I have picked up a few tips along the way….

Apparently one of the main shopping outlets in Orlando is the 4th largest tourist attraction in the State of Florida, a little scary, but not as scary as your average ‘door buster’ sale at your local Walmart…

So, for those not familiar with where to shop in Orlando, or even that there was such a prominent non-Theme Park pastime, here are some of the basics.

Bargains, and name brands.

No question, hands down winner is the Premium Factory Outlets in Lake Buena Vista. Very prominently located next to Interstate 4 and just off of Hwy 535, it’s easy to find and well worth the visit. You’ll find here all of the main brands that you would like to see, some obvious (Timberland, Nike, Reebok etc etc), but some not so obvious, Juicy Couture, Lacoste, Burburry and the like.

A couple of caveats; it’s BUSY! You’ll need a little patience for parking, especially at the weekends.

There’s a reason it’s cheap – most of the stores feature factory seconds, imperfect goods. Try anything you’re interested in on before you buy (did you know you are entitled to 30 days to return items with a receipt?).

Not everything is cheaper. Yes, if you are from almost anywhere overseas (thanks Mr. Bush), inevitably it will be cheaper than your home shopping venues due to the incredibly weak Dollar, BUT, just because it says ‘factory store’ doesn’t mean it is cheaper than a regular store (Bose for example, same price, less warranty).

Next up, the massively re-vamped Prime 1 Outlets at International Drive. Formerly known as Belz Factory outlet, up and coming and worth a look. Make sure to check ‘Neiman Marcus Last Call’ and ‘Saks Off Fifth’.

Still going strong;

Florida Mall is still a contender, it is home to some strong anchors such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Macy’s plus has a good variation from high end to unusual to cheap and cheerful. If you’re travelling with young kids, then the Build-A-Bear Workshop I think is a sure hit where the kids choose and build their own themed Teddy Bear!

Located on Sand Lake road, everyone knows where it is.

A little more up market.

Mall at Millennia. Near World Class shopping, including the Bloomingdales, Macy’s and Neiman Marcus department stores. This Mall is a little nicer than many with some excellent spots for a glass of your favorite refreshment or a spot of lunch (Cheescake Factory is great).

While you’re there, don’t miss the periphery stores, apparently they didn’t build it big enough – there are a ton of great stores and eateries sprouting all around it.

Located on Conroy Road, easy to access via Interstate 4, and is just a couple of miles from the main entrance of Universal Studios.

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