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To Coach or Not to Coach

By Amalah

Dearest Amy,

Ever since that post years and years ago when you mentioned Jason bought you a beautiful bag to cheer you up, I’ve been coveting Coach. Yesterday I visited the nearby outlets and stumbled across a Coach Outlet, where I agonized over whether to buy this bag. I needed it! So I bought it. But now I’m second-guessing myself. But I got such a good deal! And it’s real leather! And Coach!

But now it’s sitting in my bedroom and I’m wondering if it’s really worth it. Especially since it’s from an outlet. Is it okay to buy Coach from an outlet? Is there anything wrong with it, besides the missing dust bag? It’s beautiful and I don’t see gaping holes or cracked leather.

What are your thoughts?

Coaching Myself

Of COURSE it is okay to buy Coach from an outlet. Of COURSE. I mean, that shit is expensive. If you can get a good deal through the factory store, then HOORAY YOU. It’s not like you bought it off the hood of someone’s car at a highway rest stop, or something.

Most items that end up in the Coach factory stores are overstocks, discontinued styles or slightly irregular (very slight, like perhaps a crooked stitch or something — stuff with real flaws generally doesn’t get sold anywhere). You probably aren’t going to find the latest limited-edition suede-and-fur-trimmed satchel there, but you are going to find last summer’s supercute bucket bags and a lot of classic leather styles, usually for about 25% off the original price.

When I decided to get a Coach diaper bag, I actually went to the outlet specifically, because I knew I could find exactly what I wanted: a simple all-leather black tote. You know, something that looked more like a purse than a diaper bag. Because it was summer, the Coach flagship stores were only selling super seasonal fabric diaper bags. In pink. I hit the outlet and got an amazing deal (they were having an additional 10% off sale or something), and I’ve carried that bag almost-daily ever since. And it still looks as good as the day I bought it, which is why Coach has my heart. The stuff LASTS FOREVER. And for someone who gets very attached to her bags, and maybe routinely pulls out her favorite red suede satchel with the pink-and-grey houndstooth JUST TO SAY HELLO TO IT, this is a very good thing.

The one caveat to outlet shopping is that technically, the Coach repair service is not available for bags purchased there. But some people have reported getting their outlet bags fixed up just fine. It seems to depend on whether the bag was ever sold in the flagship stores or was manufactured just for the outlet. Or maybe even just the mood of whoever receives your bag.

All that said, if you don’t love your bag — if you don’t think you’ll really use it, or aren’t happy with the size or pockets or the length of the strap or ANYTHING — you should return it. I mean, you should love it. The end.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • brandi

    January 4, 2007 at 11:29 am

    I have that bag in blue with a brown strap, and I love it with my whole entire heart. It is the perfect size and it is GORGEOUS. I am blaming you both for my urgent need to now buy it in black from the outlet. THANKS A LOT. GAH.

  • anony_miss

    January 4, 2007 at 11:55 am

    I was at an outlet store and saw that purse and didn’t buy it. Now I want it and saw it in Nordstrom this weekend at full price. Sad. Please enjoy it fully. 🙂

  • Heather Barmore

    January 4, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    The Coach outlet is your best friend. Embrace it. I’ve gotten all but one thing from the Coach outlet and have also been known to get deeper discounts just on the fact that I was such a frequent visitor.
    Especially go to the outlet if all you want is a basic leather bag that doesn’t have feathers and shit on it. Amy’s right, it will last forever.

  • Peyton Snyders

    January 4, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    I have a minor obsession with Coach. As in, have bought three full-priced bags from the Coach store already this year. I have the purse in the picture above, and while it’s great for going out, that’s about all I use it for. It’s too small for every day use. (Can’t fit a small wallet, a cell phone and a hairbrush in it at the same time). So if the poster is looking for an every day purse, I’d say to keep looking. But buy Coach – they last forever! My mother still has Coach purses from the ’70s. I’m on number six myself, and I asked my husband for a briefcase when I graduate from law school this spring!

  • kalisah

    January 4, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    If you don’t love your bag – and don’t really think you’ll use it – you should send it to me.

  • kaitkait

    January 7, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Also lovelovelove Coach (and the advice smackdown – this is my first comment, so i had to profess my love of the site). Now… where does one find these fabled outlet stores? Is there a list somewhere of Coach outlets, or do you just have to stumble upon one, luckily?

  • djgroovyslug

    January 11, 2007 at 9:39 am

    I don’t get Coach. What’s the appeal? Why I don’t get Coach. What’s the appeal? Why <3 Coach over, say, Kenneth Cole, which is comparably priced? Please, it hurts my brain!! If you are worried about being sheep-like, why would anyone get Coach? I swear I’m not a guy. I love purses and could go into fantastic detail about the last two I purchased OMG BUTTERY YELLOW LEATHER CLUTCH. But WHY Coach?

  • Mairead

    February 18, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    For my part, “why Coach” was because the one I bought (ca. 40 yrs ago) was elegantly simple and well made, unlike others I’d bought in moments of psychosis.

    It’s quite scruffy now, 40 years on, and needs rehab (which Coach won’t do even tho I paid full retail, the rats), but it’s been my only purse for most of those years so it’s entitled.