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An outlet store
or factory outlet
is a brick and mortar
Brick and mortar in its most simplest usage is used to describe the physical presence of a building or other structure...
or online retail store in which manufacturers sell their stock directly to the public. Traditionally, a factory outlet was a store attached to a factory
A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial building where laborers manufacture goods or supervise machines processing one product into another. Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production...
A warehouse is a commercial building for storage of goods. Warehouses are used by manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, transport businesses, customs, etc. They are usually large plain buildings in industrial areas of cities and towns. They usually have loading docks to load and unload...
, sometimes allowing customers to watch the production process like in the original L.L. Bean store. In modern usage, outlet stores are typically manufacturer-branded stores like Gap
The Gap, Inc. is an American clothing and accessories retailer based in San Francisco, California, and founded in 1969 by Donald G. Fisher and Doris F. Fisher. The company has five primary brands: the namesake Gap banner, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime and Athleta. As of September 2008,...
grouped together in outlet malls. The invention of the factory outlet store is often credited to Harold Alfond
Harold Alfond was an American businessman who founded the Dexter Shoe Company and established the first factory outlet store.-Early life:...
, founder of the Dexter Shoe Company.