Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Busted! My UAL Secret is Out

I first discovered UAL about 10 years ago in New Orleans. Wandering around the warren of little shops in the French Quarter, I came across a storefront on Chartres Street identified only by the letters UAL.  What's a UAL? I thought. The clothes in the window were appealing, and a peek inside looked interesting. I went in, the first of many times. UAL (Urban Apparel Liquidators) has been my first, last and sometimes in-between stop on any visit to New Orleans.

Although not everything is "cheap", I once bought a Sachin + Babi dress for $8. It was the kind of dress you can only wear to a fancy wedding, and if I wore it just that one time it will be totally fine. I found a pair of Citizen camo pants for $10 that I have worn to shreds. There have been sweaters, t-shirts, a jacket or two, some fun costume jewelry... nothing that broke my piggy bank. Some things I outgrew (mentally and physically), but I've never felt guilty giving them up.

Naeem Khan $1449 was $4995

Shopping in high-end stores makes me uncomfortable. I feel it obvious to all the world (especially the world of sales associates) that I am there under false pretenses. I'm never going to buy anything but am there to enjoy the wonderful styles and lovely fabrics and admire the workmanship.

The Row $1225 was $9999

There is no pretense at UAL. Everyone is there because she (or he for the small selection of menswear) loves a bargain. And a designer bargain is the best of all. Even at 90% off many of the offerings are too much for me, but there can be decently or even amazingly priced finds as well. You just have to go with an open mind and be in the mood for a hunt.

Drew $39 was $276

UAL was founded in 1980 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. It's grown, but slowly. There are 6 retail locations in only 4 southern states, but there is an online presence, shopUAL.com.

Victoria Beckham $792 was $2640
UAL's goal was to source high fashion brands and market them at 70-90% off retail. I get the sense that many are samples. Others may be store closeouts, though there don't seem to be retail tags. How merchandise gets to discounters is an interesting and convoluted story. Safe to say, the goods at UAL are the genuine article and not manufactured especially for outlets, as is often the case in the big outlet malls.

Likewise you never know what you may find on any given visit. It's wise not to get attached to something you see not in your size. That may be the only one. The sales staff are easy-going, knowledgeable and encouraging. They seem to be having fun. I'm only speaking of the New Orleans store. I've not been to the others*, but wouldn't a road trip be fun? 

* Brentwood TN, Nashville TN (2), Austin TX, Hattiesburg MS


  1. OMG ... catching up on my reading and ran across this. I've been in the UAL in New Orleans, and was all settled down for a good pick-through, when my friends starting pestering to move on. I felt so deprived. Have been keen to try again ever since (and Nashville is closer to me). Thanks! Mary