Thursday, February 09, 2006

New Balance Factory Store, Skowhegan, 11/25/05

New Balance Factory

Not far from Waterville, located just a few miles off I-95 between Augusta and Bangor is the picturesque town of Skowhegan, best known for its proximity to the ski mountains of central Maine. A classic old brick industrial building houses the New Balance shoe factory and an old school house immediately adjacent is the site of the New Balance Factory Store at 12 Walnut Street.

Unlike many so-called outlet stores that offer little more than an average discount, this is a true factory outlet. Unless you are really familiar with the company, you'll be amazed as I was to see how many varieties of athletic shoes they make. The factory store stocks virtually all of them, with a huge selection of sizes unlike some outlets that sell just the unpopular sizes. New Balance is also one of the very few companies to offer most of their shoes in wide widths. The prices in the outlet store are amazing too. My NB canvas sneaks had given me many years of good service but were ready to be replaced. These same canvas tennis sneakers which sell retail at $44.99 in Bar Harbor are available in the factory store at $19.99, even less with coupon from the Bangor Daily News.

The outlet ostensibly sells factory seconds, but I could find no flaws in any of the shoes I looked at. And here's another surprise: New Balance also makes Dunham boots and shoes, and the factory store is similarly well stocked with Dunham's product line including some really nice hiking boots, work boots, and leather shoes.

Dunham 4128SB

On a whim I bought the above pair of leather slip-ons which were so reasonably priced I couldn't pass and I'm now pleased to report that these are without question the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned, and I like the look of them as well. I spent the better part of the afternoon browsing here, and as you can see in the photo below it was starting to get dark by the time I finally made my purchase. Click on each photo for full size view.

New Balance Factory Store

Coupons for the factory store can usually be found in the Out & About in Downeast Maine guide published by the Ellsworth American; you can also find one in the Experience Maine special advertising section published periodically by the Bangor Daily News. There may be coupons in other tourist publications as well; you can find a complete collection of tourist guides at the Maine State Visitor Information Centers which are located at several locations in Maine including one that is located just north of the Kittery exit on the Maine Turnpike.

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