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My earliest outlet shopping memories come from childhood road trips. On the way from Central Louisiana to visit relatives in South Alabama, we often detoured through Monroeville to stop at the Seat Cover Factory.
That’s what my dad called the Vanity Fair factory outlet, a big warehouse with stacks of jeans, T-shirts and enough cotton underwear to cover the seats of hundreds of little girls, including the three giggling in the back of the family sedan.
Outlets first appeared in the 1930s as locations for excess inventory and irregular items, said Dr. B. Andrew Cudmore, a marketing professor at the Bisk College of Business at Florida Tech in Melbourne. And that’s what they remained through the 1970s.
In 1974, Vanity Fair opened the first multi-store outlet, Cudmore said. In the years that followed, sleek outdoor shopping centers with