This past weekend was a fun-filled day of shopping for my family. The Charlotte Premium Outlet mall had just opened their doors on Thursday, July 31st and they were offering shoppers a 4-day celebration of awesome deals and sales. The list of stores at the outlet mall is quite impressive and every store has a ton of people ready to assist you. Many stores were offering 20-40% off your entire purchase with some stores hosting giveaways and contests. While other stores would offer a small discount up front and then offer even bigger discounts at a later date to try and entice you back with the promise of additional savings.
This is the newest mall to be built since Northlake mall opened in 2005 and although there are several outlet malls in surrounding areas I believe this is the first outlet mall of its kind for Charlotte. The new outlet mall is quite impressive - a size of approx. 400,000 square ft (with an additional 125K square ft available for potential expansion), over 100 new stores to shop, and the main anchor store is Saks 5th Avenue Off Fifth. At this time there are 2,000 parking spaces for shoppers at the outlet mall and three overflow parking areas located in surrounding neighborhoods (Berewick Elementary School, Radiant Church and Shopton Square Shopping Center) with shuttle buses operating from 6 am to 11 pm taking shoppers to and from the outlet mall.
What to expect trying to get there -
Opening day, Thursday, July 31st, shoppers showed up as early as 6 am in the hopes of scoring some awesome deals. It was the same on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with police routinely shutting down surrounding entrances and roads into the mall to allow time for parking spaces at the outlet mall to clear out. Depending on the time of day, the shutdown could be for as little as an hour or two or at its most extreme it could be for several hours. On Saturday, the traffic fiasco was made even worse due to a special guest appearance by Bethenny Frankel, who founded Skinnygirl Cocktails. Roads were shutdown for three to four hours at a time.
Our experience trying to just get there -
Getting to the exit for the outlet mall didn't take us long - we took I485 south to exit 4 on Shopton road. We tried to turn right going towards the mall but the police directing the traffic diverted everyone away from the mall - either go back onto I485 or travel down the road in the opposite direction of the mall and then make a u-turn. After having to sit in traffic for well over an hour we finally made it to the road leading up to the mall entrance only to be turned away once again. According to police, the mall was closed. By now, it was around 5 pm and we were tired, hungry and beyond aggravated about the outlet mall closing so early. We decided to get a bite to eat before heading home and coincidentally there was a Bojangles directly across from the road leading to the mall entrance so we stopped there.
While we relaxed and ate our food cars kept pulling into Bojangles thinking they could park there and walk to the mall. Not so, the managers at Bojangles were patrolling the restaurant parking lot and turning people away who weren't there to eat at their establishment. On the roadways it was even worse, people were abandoning their cars on the sides of the road and making the really long walk to the mall. It was sheer madness! We stayed at the restaurant for about 45 minutes all the while we watched as scores of people walked along the roadways heading towards the mall. We also saw hordes of cars exiting as well but the police were still not allowing cars into the mall entrances. It was during this time we realized the mall hadn't closed it was just filled beyond capacity with too many cars and not enough parking spaces. Well, I guess we timed it perfectly because just as we were leaving Bojangles the police decided to reopen the main road leading to the mall entrance. By then hardly any traffic remained so we were able to park and shop at our leisure.
Helpful tips -
For right now the best time to shop at the outlet mall will be right as they open. Any later in the day and a person runs the risks of not being able to get in due to the police presence and them shutting down the entrances to the mall. I wouldn't advise going close to closing either as the majority of the merchandise will be picked over and not worth it.
This is an open style mall with some areas covered and some open. If it rains an umbrella or a rain jacket will be needed. If the weather is cool or hot then it might be necessary to dress in layers to accommodate the ever changing crazy weather. Also, there are plenty of places to rest with seating and benches all along the middle of the walkway.
There were a few snack shops open such as Great American Cookie and Auntie Anne's but not much else in the way of food. The food court wasn't open yet but several food trucks and food vendors were readily available along the perimeter of the mall with overpriced food similar to what one would find at the ballpark. Take for example Chick-fil-A, they had $5 dollar sandwiches with your choice of spicy or original chicken and for an additional $2.50 you could get a bag of waffle chips. One thing noticeably missing were soda machines or drinking fountains. Those were located in a few of the restrooms situated midway on both sides of the mall.
Shopping was extremely easy with a few of the more popular stores having long lines such as Kate Spade and Nike. There was a line just to enter the Kate Spade store but once inside shoppers could freely roam the store without feeling crowded or rushed. Overall there was plenty of sales associates to assist shoppers and to expedite the checkout process.
Our shopping experience -
My husband and son shopped mainly for clothes at Gap, Old Navy, American Eagle and Aeropostle while I shopped at stores such as Coach, Eddie Bauer, Ann Taylor, Talbots, Kate Spade and Michael Kors. We did purchase quite a few items from various other stores such as Wilson's Leather, Eddie Bauer and Adidas as well. The prices were definitely in line with what one could expect from an outlet mall so that was nice as well. Overall we were really happy with the deals / sales that were being offered and we saved quite a bit.
Be sure to check back - I'm super excited to show you everything that I got.