It was M.O. Lee - then president of VF Corporation - who suggested holding a public sale one Saturday morning to clear out excess inventory of Berkshi.. read morere International. That day, the merchandise completely sold out, even though the only advertising had been word of mouth. The store was so busy that even Lee bagged merchandise and manned the cash register. â€śYou could see his mind working,â€ť said John Jackson, merchandise manager of Intimate Apparel at the time. â€śHe was thinking he could make the store bigger. We just had a drop cloth on the back wall, and we kept moving it back.â€ť
Pleased and surprised at the success of the sale, Lee scheduled a bigger one for two weeks later, with merchandise brought in from other VF sources. That sale was even more successful, and the VF Outlet business was launched.
Selling Berkshire and Vanity Fair surplus products, the factory store was 5,000 square feet, with only a drop cloth separating it from the manufacturing facility. VF Corporation - which opened the store in 1970 - was an early outlet operator, but not the first. Learbury Clothes is credited with opening the first outlet store in 1822, with Bates Mill Store following in 1950. About another 25 outlets had opened by the time VF hung its 50 percent off sign. However, VF Outlet Center, in Reading, Pennsylvania, is the nationâ€™s oldest outlet center still in operation and is now a major tourist attraction boasting such shops as Coach, Dooney & Bourke, Liz Claiborne, Tommy Hilfiger, Timberland and more.
Today, the VF Outlet chain offers brand name jeans, intimate apparel, sportswear, outdoor products, backpacks, swimwear and childrenâ€™s apparel all at savings up to 70% off. Brand names, including Vanity FairÂ®, LeeÂ®, WranglerÂ®, NauticaÂ® and JanSportÂ® are sold in 76 outlet locations nationwide.