It’s a good weekend for discount shopping in the Twin Cities: Opitz Outlet has opened a second Annex store in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, while Saks Off 5th has returned to downtown Minneapolis with a new location across the street from its previous home.
The locally owned Opitz Outlet and its Annex offshoot, both located on Excelsior Boulevard in St. Louis Park, have been a best-kept secret for Twin Cities bargain hunters for years—stocking designer clothing, shoes, and accessories at 70 percent off original prices. In recent years, the cat has gotten out of the designer handbag, and the store is more successful than ever, expanding to open a second outlet location in Minnetonka in 2013.
Following the success of the Minnetonka outlet store, which I’m told is already bringing in the same sales numbers as the original St. Louis Park location, it became clear that one Annex store alone couldn’t contain all the extra inventory that came with the opening of the second store. The Cedar-Riverside location was chosen for its proximity to the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College campuses, as well as the neighborhood’s large Somali population.
While its two outlet stores carry only perfect-condition items, the Annex stores feature imperfect items—pieces with slight flaws such as holes, missing buttons, and broken zippers that can typically be repaired. At the Annex, prices go in five-week cycles, starting at 80 percent off for the first two weeks and 90 percent off for the third week, before being slashed to $10 on the fourth week and $5 on the fifth before a total restock.
Owner Lyn Opitz has been sourcing the stores’ goods since it opened in 1988 after landing his first vendor, Dayton’s. Tammy Anderson, the store’s longtime retail operations manager, says, “He keeps accumulating more and more vendors all over the United States, from high-end boutiques to department stores.” He buys merchandise in large lots at a lower bottom line, so he can pass the savings on to the customers. And by purchasing from a variety vendors (unlike Saks Off 5th and Nordstrom Rack, which carry merchandise solely from Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom stores), Opitz boasts a huge variety of designer labels.
Speaking of Saks Off 5th, the outlet has reopened in City Center, at the same intersection of Nicollet Mall and S. 6th Street, across the street from its former location in a former Office Depot. The 40,000-square-foot space features two floors of merchandise, making it slightly larger than its location at the Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan. It’s a big win for downtown shopping, which has suffered substantial blows over the last decade.
More images from inside the new Opitz Annex: