Retail 101 Is Worth the Hype & Tips For Shopping the Sale

A few snaps from my first visit to Retail 101

One Sunday morning in early 2023, when I was browsing Instagram, I came across a video of a woman shopping with her daughter at what looked like bargain-hunting heaven: A warehouse filled with new Anthropologie furniture, decor and clothing, all sold at a fraction of the full retail price. Imagine my excitement when I learned that this Anthropologie Warehouse, Retail 101, was not only located in Connecticut, but only 35 minutes from my house. (It also happens to be in the town I grew up in, Naugatuck).

I literally called my sister and we were at the warehouse an hour later. This is when my Retail 101 obsession began.

@kaitmadden

This place is my home now. Stopped by today and left with two light fixtures, but I plan to go back every weekend until forever. #retail101 #retail101beaconfalls #anthropologiedupe #anthrohome #primrosemirror

♬ Funk Rave – Don´t Let Me Down 140 Bpm – kirtap

Since then, I’ve been back to the Retail 101 probably half a dozen times and I’ve bought furniture, decor, and clothing. Below, I’ll share a little about what Retail 101 is, what they sell, some pricing info, and tips I’ve learned from my shopping excursions.

What is Retail 101?

Retail 101 is sort of like a sample sale meets a bin store, where they sell deeply discounted name brand clothing and furniture, mostly floor samples, returns, and overstock from Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Free People and Nuuly, all of which are owned by Urban Outfitters. It’s basically Connecticut’s Urban Outfitters & Anthropologie Outlet.

Both the Retail 101 clothing sale and furniture sale are currently located at 6 Rubber Avenue in Naugatuck. (I say currently because the furniture portion of the sale used to be held at a separate warehouse in Beacon Falls, CT, but now both are in Naugatuck. If that changes I’ll update this post!)

When your GPS says you’ve arrived, if looks like you’re at an abandoned office building from the 1960s, you’re in the right place. The warehouse is old. Like, I grew up in Naugatuck and the building it’s in was closed for my entire childhood. And my childhood started in the ’80s. Just go in.

Most of the time, the sale is open from Tuesday-Sunday, but the schedule changes often, so it’s a good idea to sign up for the Retail 101 newsletter, since they send out the warehouse hours at the start of each week.

I find that Tuesdays (or whatever day the sale opens) and weekends tend to be the most crowded. Tuesday/opening day is busy because there are a lot of resellers who shop at Retail 101 and like to get in early to get the best buys. Mornings tend to be more crowded for this same reason – people want to get the best items.

If you can’t get there the day they open, though, don’t worry too much, because they restock inventory throughout the week.

Retail 101 Inventory – What You’ll Find and Prices

Clothing includes mostly women’s styles, but some men’s stuff also. There’s a little of everything: denim, shoes, dresses, jackets and outerwear, lingerie, accessories, swimwear, etc.

The majority of the clothing and shoes are very trendy, and there’s a lot of stuff that looks like you could wear it to a music festival, with some basics/more classic pieces mixed in. The clothing also tends to skew a little younger. I’m in my late-30s, and I’d say most of the clothing is geared towards 20-somethings. However, I have found some cute maxi dresses, jackets, and winter sweaters. You just need to be ready to dig.

Speaking of digging: the clothing area can be disorganized and chaotic, since most of the items are thrown into boxes that are roughly sorted by size and garment types. But that’s the nature of a warehouse sale.

Personally, what keeps me coming back to Retail 101 is the furniture section, because I think the discounts are better, and the furniture section to be a more pleasant shopping experience.

As far as furniture goes, you’ll find everything from dining tables, to area rugs, to designer lighting and decor.

The light fixture I bought for my bedroom, an Arteriors chandelier, was $289, and it sells online for $1400

In the times I’ve been to Retail 101, there were light fixtures I’ve seen online and at other retailers for thousands of dollars selling for just a few hundred, brand new dining tables for $300, and Anthropologie’s famed $500+ Primrose mirror, for just $179. You could probably furnish you entire house from this place, all with high-quality furniture, but for IKEA prices.

Here’s the chandelier in my bedroom

If you’re wondering about pricing for certain items, here’s what I gathered from my visits:

Retail 101 Furniture Prices

  • Sofas: $300-$1000, depending on style and size
  • Dressers & consoles: $200-$400
  • Mirrors: $100-$400
  • Nightstands: $99-$199
  • Dining tables: $299 – $499
  • Lighting: $49-$300
  • Dining chairs: $99 – $149
  • Beds: $150-$500
  • Ottomans/coffee tables: $99-$399
  • Art: $49-$199
  • Wallpaper: $5-$20 /roll
  • Misc decor: $5-$50

Retail 101 Clothing Prices

Clothing prices are about what you’d find at H&M or Zara, however Retail 101 does hold regular sales where they mark down items even further.

  • Shoes: $10-$40
  • Jeans: $20-$50
  • Pants $10-$50
  • Tops $5-20
  • Sweaters $5-$40
  • Activewear $10-$40
  • Jackets $20-$50
  • Outerwear: $30-$70
  • Casual dresses $15-$39
  • Some cocktail dresses/formal dresses, but they usually get special shipments for these, so you won’t find them every week. $30-$60
  • Swimwear, Accessories, Undergarments: I haven’t checked prices on these yet – I’d go in expecting H&M -like prices.

Tips for Shopping Retail 101

There are a few things to know before you visit Retail 101.

  • They accept cash and all major credit cards, which is good.
  • However, there are no returns or exchanges, so you’ll want to be sure about your purchases. If you’re looking for something for a specific spot in your home, i.e. a dining table or coffee table, it’s a good idea to take measurements before you leave your house, and bring your tape measure with you.
  • Expect to be there for a while. It’s not a place you can rush through. Bring snacks and water.
  • There are rolling bins and bags you can use while you shop so no need to bring your own. I recommend a cross body bag so you can have your hands free.
  • The store does not deliver furniture, but they do offer an on-site third-party delivery service. There are also people who can help you carry items to your car.
  • There are dressing rooms, but they are pretty makeshift and not very private. Something to consider when you’re getting dressed for the day – you might want to wear leggings and a tank top so you can just try things on over it.
  • Retail 101 will generally hold items for a few days/until the following weekend so long as you’ve paid for them. They will not hold items that haven’t been paid for.
  • If you’re looking for a specific furniture piece, ask one of the workers if they can keep an eye out for you and give them your info. I haven’t tried this but a friend swears by it.
  • They do not negotiate prices, and are strict about people removing price tags from items.
  • There are also lots of resellers that shop at Retail 101, especially for furniture, so if you want the best selection, go the first day of the week they open.

Overall, I definitely think Retail 101 is well worth it’s social-media hype. My only concern about this place is that I feel like now that I know about it I want to go there every weekend to see what’s new. It’s already on my list of my favorite local spots to shop for my home when I’m on a budget (along with Monger’s Market, Kathalow Warehouse Treasures, GNC Liquidations in Milford and the best flea markets in CT)

Happy shopping!

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