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Outlets Redefine Shopping Experiences

When outlet malls first appeared on the scene, the opportunity to buy items from your favorite brands — or luxury brands typically out of your price range — at prices far below normal was more than enough to bring customers in droves.

Since the appeal of these shopping opportunities was so strong and the locations featuring outlets were so few, outlet malls could be located well outside urban areas or suburban centers and draw visitors from across many states.

Fast-forward 20 years since the first burst of outlet malls, and the situation has changed completely. Outlet malls lie outside nearly every major urban area. Rather than 40 brands offering outlet retail, there are 400. And Internet bargain shopping websites have made the idea of driving two or three hours from home for deep savings seem less appealing.

Outlet malls are in a moment of intrinsic change as major brands break the mold of what you’ve come to expect from an outlet mall. Tanger Outlets is placing its newest completely indoor outlets at the Foxwoods Casino Resort. And new, independent developers — like the owners of Nebraska Crossing Outlets outside Omaha — are fine-tuning the shopping experience with futuristic technology to offer a hyperpersonalized shopping experience.

Today, outlet malls are no longer simply places to get deals, but rather entirely new, upgraded shopping experiences.


Outlets of Michigan

Romulus, Michigan

Set to open in 2016, the 380,000-square-foot Outlets of Michigan will bring a modern outlet shopping experience not only to shoppers in suburban Detroit but also to those arriving at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport on their way to nearby Ann Arbor.

The Outlets of Michigan will improve on an existing project built in Detroit in the late 1980s in the earlier linear pattern that was more difficult to shop due to both the layout and the location farther outside the city from where the consumers were living.

“The new project is developed in a racetrack prototype with various points of entry, where you park at one of the many entrances, walk around a single level of stores on both sides of the walking path and exit at the same store you entered at,” said Michele Dawson, vice president of leasing for Paragon Outlet Partners LLC.

Dawson anticipates the project will have a similar merchandise mix to Paragon Outlets’ latest project in the Twin Cities, which features Polo, Coach, Gap, Banana Republic and Under Armor, among others.

Amenities will be a key factor differentiating the Outlets of Michigan from earlier outlets in the area and updated takes on the outlet mall in other parts of the country.

“We’d like the food court to be more of an experience with elevated options for eating,” said Dawson. “We will also have canopied areas providing protection from the elements, especially transitioning from one section to another, as well as customer-service touches like family restrooms and rentals for baby strollers.”

Gabi Logan

Gabi Logan is a freelance travel journalist whose work has also appeared in USA TODAY, The Dallas Morning News and Italy Magazine. As she travels more than 100,000 miles each year, she aims to discover the unexpected wonder in every destination.