Lodi Station Outlets in Burbank, Ohio (a bit south of Cleveland), and I have to say...if you've never been there what are you waiting for?!? Yes, there is shopping - lots and lots of shopping at more than 60 stores - but the outlet is also home to two lovely vintage trains that travel around a 2-mile long track. So, it's the best of both worlds - mom gets to shop and dad and the kids can ride the train!
When we arrived at the outlets, we were greeted by @Nikki_S, their great social media coordinator who loaded us up with lunch vouchers (yum!), train tickets, a great swag bag full of so many goodies and ... a gift card to spend at the shops. I have to admit, I felt a bit spoiled!
As we were starving after driving since 9:30 a.m. (and hungry kids = cranky kids), we decided to grab some lunch right after we sat for ID pictures as one of our "perks" was VIP train passes good through 2012. You can bet we'll be back to ride the train as my girls loved it.
OK, back to lunch. We ate at the Steam Cafe where everything is homemade and fresh made. I loved the choices - the specials for the day were a taco salad (Kevin's choice) and a "summer salad plate" (my choice). The girls can be a bit picky, but Emma was able to get a peanut butter (no jelly!) sandwich and Olivia had a turkey sandwich with grated cheese, warmed up please. (See, I told you they are they are picky!)
After lunch, I wanted to shop ... but no, the kids (and Kevin) wanted to ride the train. So we hopped on the train and I'm glad we did. I was able to see many of the stores and could decide where I "needed" to go once we were done riding the train.
Finally...it was time to shop! I knew where I wanted to go and had some idea of what I wanted to buy, so we didn't make it to every store but we can always go back. We headed to Justice first because I told the girls they could each spend $20 (yeah, I'm generous like that). Of course, fashion diva Olivia was picking out a whole new wardrobe until I reminded her she only had $20. So, she and Emma decided on a new stuffed animals (because we need more of those in this house!).
The deals in the store were good - the whole store was 40% off, I think. So, after finding a birthday present for my niece and Beanie Babies for the kids, we saved $19.16 (spent $30.54). Not a bad way to start the day.
Next up was Bath & Body Works. Now, I used to shop at B&BW all the time, but it's just so darn expensive anymore and I can't justify spending that kind of money on hand soap. However, the outlet had 75% off many (most) products so I couldn't pass it up. The "wallflowers" were $3.12 each..I mean, c'mon people! Get shopping! Three hand soaps and one wallflower later, I walked out only spending $11.31. Now that's a bargain!
All that bargain hunting made us hungry (again), so we headed over to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory to use our "free scoop of ice cream" coupons. Mint chocolate chip ice cream is so good on a hot shopping day, that's all I'm going to say. But the chocolates...oh the chocolates. I jokingly said "I'll take one of each"...but I was only partially joking. It all looked so yummy. I promised the kids we'd come back right before we left so we didn't have melted chocolate.
Olivia decided our next stop was going to be the scrapbook store, Crazy for Scrapbooks. She is a budding "scrapbooker" and she needed some Disney stickers. And I admit, I wanted to grab some more stickers too ... you know, for those TWO Disney vacation scrapbooks I have yet to start! We walked out $21.90 later.
We walked past the outlets for The Gap, Lane Bryant, The Children's Place, Gymboree and more...but we didn't go in. Just know...there are so many great stores at Lodi Station I could have done some serious damage!
Since I'm a sucker for kitchen gadget stores my next stop was the Kitchen Collection. Oh the things I could have bought! But I had a mission - I needed a couple new pans. I have Calphalon pans and for some reason the non-stick has come off...and well, that's gross when you're trying to cook. So, I picked out a set of Paula Deen cookware (they're red which matches my Disney red, white and black kitchen) and they were only $29.99. Bonus here - at this store if we spent $30 or more we could use a $5 coupon! So, I looked around for a few more things and ended up with an iced coffee cup and two sports bottles for the kids. All for $30.86!
Now here's where my "mission" kicked in. I added it up and said "OK, we have $5.39 left to spend...can we do it without 'going over'?"
By this time the girls were getting tired and hot and cranky...so I decided we would go back to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, as promised. The very friendly staff recognized us from our earlier visit and I told them about my "challenge" and they jumped into action. One chocolate chip cookie, one chocolate covered Twinkie and one chocolate covered double marshmallow later we had a total of $5.40! ACK! I was one penny over my "limit"...but never fear, one of the employees said "Oh, we have an extra penny right here" and suddenly I was at my total....$5.39.
And that my friends is the tale of how I spent $100 in a few short hours.
Yes, I could have spent much, much more...but we're on a budget and to be honest, we did spend a few extra dollars at the pretzel shop right before hitting the road. But I tell you what, if you're looking for GREAT deals, good food, AND a really cool train ride - head on over to Lodi Station Outlets for a day. It's worth the drive!
Check out Lodi Station on Twitter and Facebook!
Disclaimer: I was invited to spend the day at Lodi Station and we were provided with vouchers for lunch and train rides, VIP train passes, a swag bag of goodies from stores at the outlets and a gift card. The opinions in this blog post are all mine.