We aren’t blessed with retail opportunities up here in the Lakes but one thing we do have is the New Balance outlet and factory. This half term, the only thing my 17 year old son wanted to do was to visit it with a big spend in mind so, dragging Mr MC and the 2 smalls along, we set off for a day out.
In case you don’t know, New Balance has a big factory in Flimby and 4 New Balance outlets in Shap, Keswick, Flimby and a new one on the East Coast in Murton, County Durham. We headed for the Shap shop which is straight up the M6 at junction 39. Now Shap isn’t a place that you’d otherwise go to – its claim to fame around here is that as soon as the snow falls it’s the first place to close to civilisation. It’s beautiful but very bleak and wuthering.
On first arrival it was easy to miss – just a small shop in the centre of the village with minimal New Balance outlet signage.
It certainly isn’t anything like a Nike outlet store. There’s nothing flashy about it, lighting is poor, changing rooms are rough and merchandising is of the ‘pile it high’ variety. However there is something charming about all that – it feels like a proper factory outlet store.
New Balance Outlet – Trainers
You need to really rummage to find what you want. Trainers are not organised in any way so it’s simply a case of looking at the box fronts until you find your size (remembering that New Balance sizes come up small so you generally need to go up at least one full size). You then look inside to see what style and colourway you’ve found – we actually quite liked that – it was a bit like a lucky dip.
In terms of casual trainers, they had a big stack of classics – 373s, 420s, 410s and 574s in varying colours. Size availability was good – there was generally a pair in each size. Some were seconds and others were just unusual colour combinations, samples and end of lines. The selection for women was really poor though – you could buy a men’s pair as these were available from about size 6 upwards but they do look different – they seem to have a chunkier toe cap. One good thing is that they have a selection of trainers that are made around the corner in Cumbria as well as trainers made in their US factories.
Much to my 10 year old’s disappointment there was only a small pile of children’s trainers in a limited number of sizes and they were all horrible. We may have been unlucky but it does seem that New Balance outlet store trainer stock is mostly for men.
The running shoe selection was superb for both men and women and included trail running and fell running shoes in addition to standard running shoes. They had quite a few limited edition shoes along with a treadmill with camera for checking your gait. There was also a range of Warrior football boots at great prices (New Balance is their parent company) – approx £25 per pair.
New Balance Outlet – Clothing
Clothing was a bit easier to navigate with 2 full ranges for both men and women on display in different colourways. Unlike shoes, the clothing sizes came up large so you need to aim for a size below your normal one. There was also a sale rail and other clothing in the stockroom that was brought out on request. In addition to this there was a rail of Liverpool FC clothing and a rack of compression base layer clothing with all women’s sizes available but only XXXL left for men.
New Balance Outlet – Accessories
There was a good range of accessories. Fashion accessories included courier bags and satchels. Sports accessories included backpacks (my son loved the fact that they had built-in bootbags), holdalls and sports bags.
By the counter there were running belts with water bottle storage, a range of water bottles, socks, hats, gloves, shoe and bootbags and iPod armbands.
New Balance Outlet – Prices
So, of course the big question is – does the discount make it worth the trip? Well it probably isn’t worth driving more than an hour for. The discount varied from approximately 10% on smaller items to 70% for extreme sizes such as an XXL jacket reduced from RRP £100 to £32. On average prices were about 30% lower than RRP.
Pricing was confusing. We bought 2 pairs of classics that were priced at £60 each on the box. However at the till they rang through at £40 each and then the discount offer gave us another £20 off so they were actually £30 each which was pretty good. You are limited to 2 pairs only on the classics though.
It’s worth checking prices for clothing against the New Balance sale section on their main site before you buy though (assuming you can get a signal in Shap!). My son was about to buy a fleece for £52 until he realised it was £42 online which even factoring in the £5.50 postage was a better deal.
Sadly I’d spent my budget by the time it came to me but for £130 we came away with 2 pairs of classics, a performance hoodie, a running t shirt, a jacket, a bootbag and 2 water bottles.
New Balance Outlet – Service
Special mention has to be made of the service in store. Unlike a Nike outlet where you have bored teenagers who know nothing about the product, there were 3 brilliant ladies in the store – it was like being looked after by your mum. They spent ages with us helping us to find what we wanted. There was no pressure and they trawled through the stockroom for different sizes as well as calling other outlet stores for us who could deliver items for £5.50 if we wanted. They were knowledgeable, patient, had a great sense of humour and managed to find everything that Mr MC and our 3 sons wanted – no mean feat.
New Balance Outlet – making a day of it
Shap and Flimby are the biggest stores in the North West – the Keswick New Balance outlet is smaller – worth bearing in mind. There isn’t much to do in Shap though (much more in Keswick) – just a cafe and a couple of pubs but they didn’t inspire us to stop. However, given that we’d managed to get the 17 year old to deign to spend a day with us I was determined to spin it out. We drove back down the M6 to Sedbergh and had a mooch through the bookshops and a good lunch with great cake at the Howgills Cafe.
I know this has turned out to be a very long post but there was so little information about the New Balance outlet online when I was trying to decide if the drive was worth it that I thought I should provide some detail. If you’re in the Lakes and you like New Balance for either fashion or sport then it is worth a visit, you’ll enjoy the service and the rummaging around – and the discount is better that anything you’d get on the high street.
New Balance Outlet – Address & Opening HoursNew Balance Outlet Shap, Main Street, Shap. Cumbria CA10 3NL. 01931 716333
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 9.30 – 17.30, Sat 9.00 – 17.00, Sun 10.00 – 16.00
Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s DayNew Balance Outlet Keswick, 15 Bank Street, Keswick. Cumbria CA12 5JY 01768 774631
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 9.30 – 17.30, Sat 9.00 – 17.30, Sun 10.00 – 17.00
Closed Christmas Day, Boxing DayNew Balance Outlet Flimby, St Helen’s Lane, Flimby, Maryport. Cumbria CA15 8RY 01900 602850
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 9.30 – 17.30, Sat 9.00 – 17.00, Sun 10.00 – 16.00
Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s DayNew Balance Outlet County Durham, Unit 43, Dalton Park, Murton. County Durham. SR7 9HU 0191 5171376
Opening Hours: Mon Wed Fri 10.00 – 18.00, Thur 10.00 – 20.00, Sat 09.30- 18.00, Sun 10.30 – 17.00
Closed Christmas Day, Easter Sunday
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