Tucked away just 20 minutes outside of downtown Washington, D.C. is a place that you won't find highlighted in any tourist guidebooks, but is a must-visit if you’re a design lover coming to town. The magical attraction is none other than the Crate & Barrel outlet store, located in Alexandria, Virginia right outside the nation’s capital.
If you weren’t aware that Crate & Barrel even had outlet stores, it’s because they’re quite rare. This Northern Virginia location is one of just 11 stores in seven states across the U.S., which range from California to Maine. In fact, even though I've lived near the Alexandria store for four years, I didn’t know that it existed until recent months, and local friends are often quite surprised when I mention it. But this hidden gem is most certainly a spot I’ll return to for large and small items alike.
The inventory at my local outlet changes frequently, with new items arriving a couple times a week. You’ll find everything from sofas to dressers to children’s furniture, along with other home goods such as entertaining supplies, seasonal décor, and other accents. Most of the homewares are either sold at full price or a slight discount, but the furniture section is where you’ll find the major deals.
On a recent visit, I spotted the Infiniti Curved Back Sofa upholstered in custom fabric for roughly $750 (compare that to $1,800 online), and the friend I was with scooped up two of the Nadia Cane Chairs for $150 each. A regular at the outlet, she also scored a coffee table from the Leanne Ford line for a steep discount and scooped up the swoonworthy Marisa Burl Wood Desk during a previous trip.
Items for sale at the outlet are generally damaged in some fashion, but that can vary significantly. The sofas I viewed appeared to be pretty pristine, yet I’ve spotted cabinets and wooden pieces with more significant cosmetic issues like dents or scratches. You should take a close look at anything you intend to purchase and ensure it meets your standards before heading to the checkout line, as returns are prohibited.
Since many items for sale at the outlet are too large to transport in a regular vehicle, sales associates are armed with the business cards of local moving services they recommend and will hold items for pickup after payment is made. Of course, if you’re driving in from out of town, you’ll probably want to stick to the smaller goodies such as lamps or side tables, but there are still plenty of pieces that can fit into an average backseat or trunk.
Shopping at the outlet isn’t for everyone, as being able to make a snap decision is key, given that as items move quickly and it's unpredictable if a certain piece will appear down the line. However, Crate & Barrel enthusiasts and furniture lovers will definitely appreciate the chance to score some of the company’s most stunning pieces at a major discount—all while enjoying the thrill of the hunt.