It was not long into my reselling journey when I heard about Nordstrom's final clearance store Last Chance located near Phoenix, Arizona. Known for near nothing deals on clothes, shoes, accessories, and home goods, items end up in this store for a variety of reasons. You will find a lot of the same item if they overproduced or overestimated the interest in the product. As well, a lot of one off items end up in the store due to Nordstrom's generous return policy. If the item is no longer on the floor, or is too worn to be sold in their Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack stores, they end up at Last Chance. I'd seen other people's amazing hauls from the store, but really had no idea of what to expect going into this experience. I thought I would share the good, the bad, and the ugly (!!) of my 3 hour experience there to hopefully help any other people decide if those deals are right for them! Keep scrolling to read!
Before The Store Even Opens
I knew this place gets busy (duh, great deals) and I was going on a Sunday so I was expecting a crowd. However, rolling up to the store 30 minutes before they open, I did not expect already to see a line of people wrapped around the building! The store is located in the basement area of an indoor shopping center, however they start lining people outside and around the building before they open. I would guess there were already at least 50 people waiting in line when we got there!
Once it was only a few minutes before opening, employees came out and sorted the people waiting into two lines, those who wanted to shop shoes first and those you who wanted to shop clothes first. They definitely had a system down to avoid chaos! I chose shoes because, well, I was just overwhelmed and this was the closest line to me ha. From there the employees led us single file down into the store, so far so good!
Similar to Goodwills in my area, all the items being sold at Last Chance have different color price tags. The day I was there, the sales they were having included 50% off all purple tags, and 80% off the purple tags on long dresses. Everyone swarmed that area when we entered, so there was barely anything left by the time I made my way to that area of the store. Most of the items I bought that day were purple tags, so there were definitely a lot to choose from. Honestly, I didn't pay more than $15 for one item, with my average item cost being around $9.
Outside of the purple tag items, 99% off the items I saw (all color tags) were priced SUPER low. I was pretty picky just because I am not a super big fan of retail arbitrage, but if you are purchasing for your own personal closet these deals can't be beat anywhere. I'm talking DVF wrap dresses for $30. I heard some women talking about how they are used to Last Chance having more discounts, so its possible there are days where more colors tags and items are discounted.
What I was not expecting was to find that most of the items in the store did not have original tags attached. It makes sense that they would do this to deter reselling, but wow that must take a lot of work. (There are even signs around the store forbidding reselling) However, I was still able to find a few pieces with the original designer tags attached. I was worried that maybe the cashiers would be on the lookout for this and remove them, but honestly they were in such a hurry to check people out they didn't even notice/care.
Another thing about the items that I was not expecting was how many were visibly worn, especially for the shoes. Most of the shoes had scuffs and wearing on the soles. I guess this speaks to Nordstrom's return policy. Even items that had original tags attached still had holes or pulls in the material. I recommend THOROUGHLY looking over piece of clothing you are looking to purchase for any irregularities. As far as the range in clothing brands and designers, while a lot of the items in the store are Nordstrom's lower end brands (Halogen, BP, Hinge, etc.) there was also still a very large amount of mid (Tory Burch, Kate Spade, DVF) to high end (Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Burberry, YSL, Chloe) to choose from.
The Other Customers
Ok, this is where everything gets a little nutty. Everything up to this point has sounded great, but you really need to be alert and keep your wits about you in this store because people are not here to leisurely shop. I've shopped a lot of sales and thrift stores in my lifetime, but none of those trips really prepared me for this place. The people are here to find the good deals, and find them before anyone else. Most of the common decency you would expect at a Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack will not be found here. People WILL push your cart out of their way. They will grab an item out of your cart if it is something they want. They will jump ahead of you on the rack to grab something right out of your hands. While I was looking through a rack of jeans an employee rolled out a rack full of down jackets, some of which I saw had the Moncler symbol on the arm. I beelined that direction and was only about a foot away when two people jumped in my way and made me stop while they grabbed EVERY SINGLE JACKET OFF THE RACK. I just stood there for a minute literally like :0
Another little interesting tid bit of info is that Last Chance only has a couple fitting rooms, so don't be surprised to come face to face with a topless woman squatted behind a clothing rack trying on shirts. Nothing to see here folks.
Like most Nordstrom Rack stores, the checkout counters are at the front of the store. After I was done shopping, I was surprised to find that the checkout line went from the counters at the front of the store down the middle of the store to the back, went along the backside of the store, and turned back up almost all the way to the front of the store. Pretty much a full upper case "U". But like how they wrangled us into the store at the beginning, the employees really have a handle on lines and keeping things as organized as possible. There were employees along the way that took off your hangers and security tags. As long as the line was, it probably only took me about 10-15 minutes to get to the front of the line.
Tips FOr Success
- Get there early to take advantage of the biggest deals of the day
- Bring a buddy along so they can watch your cart if you need to go to the bathrooms (which are outside of the store)
- Lay a big item over the top of your cart and your other items so no one takes them out
- While the racks having size sections, a lot of items are disorganized and out of place so I recommend going through all racks
- When you see a new rack being rolled out FOLLOW IT AND BE THERE FIRST
- Only water is allowed inside the store, but I definitely bring some because time moves at a different pace inside this store
- Keep a mental note of what items have the big security sensors on them and make sure they get taken off (one of them got left on one of my items)
- Wear a crossbody bag to allow maximum arm usage
- Dress comfy because I can assure you no is there to impress anybody (I think the opposite actually lol)
- Look over every single item CAREFULLY because so many items have holes or defects, and this store is no exchange/refund/return
Overall for me, I would come back in a heartbeat if I find myself in the area again. I may even make the 10 hour round trip just to come to this store again. Considering the brands I found (a lot of which I've never been able to find in a thrift store) it is the perfect situation for me because I absolutely live for the hunt of a good deal. But if you prefer the comfortable, leisurely shopping experience, and don't mind paying up for that, THIS IS NOT FOR YOU. It was fun reliving this crazy experience with you, and if you have any questions or your own experiences with this store to share feel free to leave a comment below!
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