If you had seen my last post, you would have realised that I missed out the last bit of Day 7's itinerary. Well, that was deliberate. Since we had the opportunity to visit an additional outlet mall just prior departure, I thought I'll combine both into a single post.
Day 7's itinerary:
Central Wholesale Market --> Ishiya White Chocolate Factory --> Asahi Beer Factory --> Mitsui Factory Outlet
Day 8's itinerary:
Rera Outlet Mall --> Chitose Airport
Rera Outlet Mall --> Chitose Airport
Yup. Unfortunately, that's about the only picture I took of the Mitsui Outlet Mall. Let's just say that I was hit hard by the shopping bug and forgot all about everything else.
At least, while at Rera Outlet Mall, I snapped a couple more with the mobile phone. Heh. By then, I had one round of shopping at Mitsui, so I guess the shopping bug was tamed a bit.
So anyway, one of the reason for combining the outlet malls into a post: There's really only so much you can write about malls and shopping. Besides, the brands I like or buy from, may not be what you as a reader would be interested in.
But really, the main reason is because my strategy for overseas (ok, maybe just limited to Japan)outlet shopping is pretty much similar not matter where I go, and I thought I'll write about that in this post.
So, once you know which outlet mall you're headed for in Hokkaido, the very first thing you should be doing as part of your homework, is to go and google for the mall's website. The website is a treasure trove of information and here's what you should be looking out for to facilitate your shopping spree:
1) Directory of brands / shops available at the outlet mall, and where they are located in the mall.
This is especially useful if you have only a limited time allocated for shopping. Once you know which brands are available, you can prioritize which shops you want to head to first, which ones you would like to spend more time in.
As the Mitsui Outlet Mall was super huge and had 2 towers, you can imagine how important it was for us to know what we wanted to buy in the 2 hours that was given to us. Yup, 2 hours. Man... I'm telling you, I could easily spend an entire day in there,
I printed out a map of the Mitsui Outlet Mall prior departure as a backup but you can always pick up a map from both malls when you get there.
2) Occasionally, the websites features special events, promotions and even discount codes. Well, like I said, good to check things out before you go. You'll never know which coupons or codes might come in handy.
Once at the outlet malls, ask your tour guide or head to the reception/information counter for the coupon booklet, like the one in my photo above. This is common at the outlet malls. The coupon booklet lets you know which are the participating outlets and the conditions for use of these discount coupons. Once you have these on hand, SHOP ON! The savings from these coupons can be quite substantial when added up!
For those who enjoy shopping and shopaholics, my advice is to set aside at least a few hours or half a day at the outlet malls. If you do not have the luxury of time, then too bad, it's got to be a "divide and conquer" strategy. Both malls have food courts within their premises (and the food is way better than our Japanese stalls in Kopitiam) so you can also settle one of your meals before or after your shopping.
For those who enjoy supermarket shopping when overseas (one of my favourite thing to do when on a trip), you will be pleased to find out that the supermarket within Mitsui Outlet Mall stocks up on local farm produce as well!
Both outlet malls had free wifi available as well as coin lockers in case you need to store your stuff while you shop. They also accept all major credit cards so no worries there. Hmmm... or maybe you should lock your cards away.
My parents and I had a great time shopping. My mom hauled back a Coach bag and wallet while I got myself a Fossil bag (on an awesome bargain) which has since become one of my favourite work bags. We also bought some clothes from Gap, and sandals from Hush Puppies. My dad had wanted a pair of shoes from Hush Puppies too but they were out of his size. We also bought back sports wear from Addidas and Nike for the brother back home. But I was supremely disappointed to find out that the G-Shock and Baby G watches were at about the same prices when compared to Singapore! I also didn't have enough time to try on the Levis. Otherwise, it was a really great haul considering we only had 2 hours in Mitsui Outlet and another hour and a half at Rera Outlet. And that's including meals at both malls too!
An additional note:
Rera Outlet is really close to Chitose Airport. There's even a shuttle bus to and fro the airport and mall, so you can include it into your itinerary immediately after arrival or just before departure. Well, just make sure you have the time and energy. I personally know of a friend who visits Hokkaido pretty regularly. She and her family would hit Rera Outlet immediately after arrival just to get additional winter gear (at way cheaper prices than Sg) for their trip. A pretty good idea for the future winter Hokkaido trip I'm planning myself. Just make sure you already have the basics so you won't freeze getting there to Rera!
Mitsui Outlet Mall
English website: http://www.31op.com/sapporo/english/
Address: 3-7-6 Omagari Saiwai-cho, Kitahiroshima City, Hokkaido
Opening Hours: 10 am to 8 pm. Restaurants and the food court close an hour later at 9 pm, but the last order timing would vary according to shops.
Check the website for days when the mall would be closed.
Rera Outlet Mall
Address: 066-8765 1-2-1, Kashiwadaiminami, Chitose-shi, Hokkaido
Opening Hours: 10 am to 8 pm. Some restaurants open at 11 am. Mall's opening hours may also vary with season.
Otherwise it is open all year round.