We took a 15-hour shopping trip to Buffalo, NY on Sunday to check out all the deals we've heard about regarding the crazy sale the States has for Black Friday (the day after their Thanksgiving). It was supposed to be the biggest sale of the year when shops mark down their inventory to clear everything out before Christmas. We didn't leave exceptionally early, like we did last time, but early enough to arrive at the border before noon.
First we stopped by Burlington Coat Factory - sort of like Winners, except bigger and crappier. It does offer a big selection of everything - from aisles and aisles of coats (hence its name) to fashion accessories like purses and belts and cheap jewellery to lousy perfume sets to clothings for women (of all sizes), men and children to home furnishing like beddings and curtains. There are some nice brands like Guess and BCBGirls, but there were also fakes like "Charles Klein" (or maybe I just haven't heard of that brand). I remember last time we went there were some good deals, but we didn't see any clearance deals this time around and were quite disappointed. After almost 2 hours of rummaging through the racks and piles, only one of us found something (in fact, she's found a men's CK long down-filled jacket for less than $50 USD, 2 pairs of shoes for her daughter and a pair of runners for her son, on top of a bunch of other stuff). Coincidentally, she was the one who suggested that we take the detour 30 minutes away from where our main destination was. Next time I will know better to let her know that we would rather spend more time at where we had planned to go.
Anyhow, we arrived at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls on Military Road before 3 o'clock and rushed through the stores - we didn't think we would have enough time to see everything we wanted to see. In fact, we didn't have enough time to see everything we wanted to see - I had wanted to check out shoes and Burberry and Juicy and Calvin Klein, and I wanted to spend more time at Aeropostale and Liz Claibourne. There was a line-up to get into the Coach store, but it wasn't a long line and they kept us busy by offering us mint candies with the Coach logo printed on the wrappers. They even handed out a extra-20%-off coupon when we entered the store. The store was packed and there were shoppers holding on to 3 to 4 purses at a time. The salespeople had trouble keeping merchandise on the shelf because as soon as they put a bag down the shoppers would grab it. There were some nice new styles and also a lot of what we've already seen before, but they didn't have the crossbody purse I really really wanted. Since we were running out of time we rushed through the other stores and didn't find much else, and we were exhausted and starved by the time the stores started turning off the lights.
I was hoping to head home after 6PM when the mall closed, but the ladies I was with had other ideas. We stopped by Marshalls, then Wal-Mart, then Chili's and then Target before we finally got on the road towards the border. Marshalls was another store like the Burlington Coat Factory, but at least they seemed to have nicer stuff. Wal-Mart in the States have much better prices on a bunch of things, namely children's game for $5 or so a piece (Yatzee, Connect 4, etc.). However, with the conversion (from USD to Canadian Dollars) and the taxes, we didn't think it was worth it. The Lindt white chocolate with coconut bar that we were looking for in Wal-Mart was all sold out, so after dinner at Chili's, we stopped by Target to try our luck. As soon as we stepped in to the store we were informed that the store was only open for another 5 minutes (We made it there 5 minutes before 10PM). Thankfully they did have the chocolate bars and we picked up quite a few despite them being more expensive than Wal-Mart. Regardless, these Lindt bars are still better-priced than Canada and this particular kind (the white chocolate with coconut) is not even available here, so the detour to Target was worth it.
We hopped on the car to get home a little bit after 10PM, but was stuck in traffic just before the border for an hour and a half. There were merging lanes and people seemed to be in a rush to get home and didn't want to yield. And it didn't help that the Rainbow Bridge was narrowed to 1 lane on each side due to construction. Despite doing only a hundred dollars or so of damage for each of the 3 of us and being in the second furthest lane, we were instructed by the custom officer to veer a sharp left to go in with the receipts and pay duty. Luckily the officer didn't say anything after he's asked me to pop open the trunk and we got out of there as soon as we could.
While getting back into the car one of us realized that her MasterCard went missing, but we weren't ready to drive all the way back to the restaurant where she has last used it. But all in all it was a fun trip, although I probably wouldn't go again for a while.