I came across what I felt was one of the greatest secrets about this fantastic cookware back in the early 1990s, when I drove from Washington, DC, to Florida during Christmas along I-95. When you get around the Carolinas(North and South), there are lots of roadside signs for Le Crueset outlets. Of course I had to stop at at least one of these outlets. This is when I learned the best thing!
At these outlets and almost all other Le Creuset outlets throughout the United States, they are likely to be located near a factory. The Le Crueset pots/pans don't always come out perfect at these factories but they are still usable. So they are called seconds. These "outlets" have "seconds" listed at 30-40% off the regular price. I looked over all these seconds and asked the retail staff why they were called seconds and they said sometimes the paint does not come out some exact color or some other non-detectable(to me) problem.
It even gets better... at the time I was visiting these outlets, as I mentioned, it was Christmas time and during two times of the year, these outlets have an additional 40% off of these seconds. So I loaded up on two 40% reductions.
How can anyone take advantage of this if they don't drive I-95 during Christmas? Just go to their website, (as of 8/10/2006) www.lecreuset.com and click on the US area of the world map. Then put mouse over Shopping and you will see Store Finder as an option. click on Store Finder. In Store Finder, you will have 3 questions. To find the factory store in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, select North Carolina for the state in step #1. Then in step #2, select the Search for Le Creuset authorized dealers and Le Creuset factory stores option. Then in step #3, click enter. You can only find these "seconds" at factory stores. But factory stores are all over the country. You can call one factory store and find out where the others are located. For example, there is also a factory store in Le Creuset Factory Store
30 Lane Street
Yemassee SC 29945
Now, to get that ADDITIONAL 40% off of the seconds... Le Crueset factory stores have that sale twice a year. Don't hold me to this, verify what it is currently, but last i knew, it lasts a couple weeks each and one is sometime around Christmas and the other is sometime beginning in July.
About 2 years ago I had a friend contact me asking me to explain again about this Le Crueset sale. She was able to locate the color/size by calling around to different factory stores and had it shipped to her home. So, call around to any factory store to locate your color/pot size. Then ask them when the sale is and call back on that first sale day and get your pot/pan shipped.
I hope I have explained the "sale" good enough for anyone to understand. I have so many Le Crueset pots/pans now. I cannot use them all and last time I purchased some was 10 years ago. I just could not resist such good prices for that expensive stuff. If you do live close enough to an outlet store, it is worth the drive during their sales( or any other time) to see for yourself if you can really tell the "seconds" from non-seconds.
I am a serious cook and baker.
If interested in my work, check out my website www.tanyacakes.com .