This Secret Luxury Discount Store Could Cause Some Serious Trouble

Photo: Via @shopual.
United Apparel Liquidators is not a sexy name. It doesn’t exactly sound like the store you’d clear a Saturday schedule for, or one you’d keep a secret from your frenemies. But, to ignore it would be a grave mistake. As Racked reports, UAL is not only Nashville’s biggest luxury discount secret, it’s probably one of the very few places in the world — let alone in the local strip mall — where you’ll find Chanel, Proenza Schouler, and Balmain at discounts so deep they could make fashion fanatics weep. Does this haven for unsold stock seem a little too good to be true? Technically, it is.

When it come to sales, there is usually no official contract between contemporary brands and retailer stores, as an account executive for a popular contemporary brand tells us. When a brand sells its products at wholesale to a store, it often relinquishes control over pricing — which is why you might later find these wares littered among the selections of an outlet store. But, the story isn't the same for luxury retailers.

"Each [retailer] has their own set of restrictions," our account executive source says, adding that luxury lines' methods of sale are usually handled with much more control. These high-end, high-profile brands will often want to narrate their distribution — and ultimately protect their images — extremely selectively. “I can’t imagine them liquidating to any stores," she adds.

But, according to Racked, UAL is a gold mine for those willing to make the trip. As the article explains, it's a catch-as-catch-can shopping situation where one day you’re scoring a Chanel handbag on sale (a fashion-world impossibility, as the brand notoriously never puts its merchandise on sale), and the next you're purchasing last season’s Timo Weiland and Ostwald Helgason. UAL co-founder Melody Cohen told Racked that her business is built on her connections: "A manager might call us and say, ‘I bought too much,’ or shipments might get stuck on the dock in LA, and when merchandise comes in too late, what do you do? People say, ‘Try UAL.’"

Of course, to shoppers, especially ones who enjoy the thrill of the discount hunt, UAL sounds like a dream. Perhaps even more so to New Yorkers whose luxury-at-a-discount options — like Century 21, Loehmann's (RIP), or even a Barneys Warehouse sale — provide no exceptions to the luxury-brands-that-never-go-on-sale rule. But, UAL (which also has store locations in New Orleans, Austin, Louisiana, and Mississippi) could potentially be in position to get many retailers in hot water.

Should luxury brands be able to track their products back to a retailer from UAL, that could mean big trouble for stores, depending on their agreements with the brands. That's where UAL's low profile is paramount. The store keeps its retail partners anonymous to ensure covetable, high-end products continue to appear on its sales floor. This model has been successful for UAL since its founding in 1980. And, frankly, it's the reason why we're considering booking a flight to Nashville. (Racked)
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