I am a self-proclaimed expert outlet shopper. I venture across the border a couple times a year and snag as many off season deals as I can, to stock up for the next season. My children wear lots of brand name clothing but I can guarantee that I rarely pay more than clearance prices. So when I heard that Kanata was getting an outlet mall I got a bit excited.
Having the outlets close by would be convenient, although I have to admit that part of the allure of cross border shopping is the weekend away I get with some good friends! But, I was willing to overlook the one downside of having an outlet mall so close. Yesterday morning, I decided to venture to the grand opening of the Tanger Outlet Mall in Ottawa and take in what may soon be my new reality of outlet shopping.
Now I thought that things might get a bit crazy so I did what every expert shopper would do; I brought back up! My good friend, who just so happens to hate crowds, agreed to be my wingman for this shopping excursion. Perfect. Only several thousand people were expected and my shopping partner hates crowds. But we had a plan: Get in. Check it out. Get out. What could possibly go wrong?
We ventured into the danger zone shortly after 10 am. As we drove down Huntmar Drive we could see a long line of cars in both directions, with several cars waiting to turn into the parking lot at the Canadian Tire Centre. My wingman, in her infamous wisdom, checked Facebook and starting reading posts about how crazy the parking lots were and the lack of available parking spots.
We made a game time decision and veered off into the parking lot of the Canadian Tire Centre (CTC) to avoid the Tanger parking lots. This is where the parking lot overflow landed. Parking in the CTC lot left us walking a short distance which wasn’t an issue. However, the route included a section of the overpass bridge at Palladium that does not have a sidewalk. With cars driving in each direction and lots of people walking, it was definitely a dangerous spot. I believe later in the day a shuttle was run from the CTC parking lot to the mall.
From the overpass we were able to see that cars were stopped on the westbound Queensway for as far as the eye could see. I later read that later in the day, the traffic was backed up to the Bayshore exit. Is there anything we Canadians won’t do for some good shopping?
Once we made it through the mayhem of traffic and parking, the shopping experience was actually quite pleasant! The general areas of the mall are spacious enough that it didn’t feel crowded, despite the fact that there were a lot of people milling around. There were a few hot spots, like Michael Kors and Coach, that had line-ups just to get into the store, but overall the flow in and out of stores was quite fluid.
We managed to check out a few stores and found that when it came to the prices, shoppers appeared to be pleased with the deals they had found. Most stores had grand opening sales and the mall itself offered 20% as an opening day special. What remains to be seen is whether or not the savings will extend past the opening days.
What surprised me most about this visit was not the prices or the parking. Remember how I purposely brought back up? I did this fearing the worst from the experience. I was expecting elbows and pushing, line cutting and rude people. I wondered if I would see people fighting over merchandise or someone yelling at a poor sales associate. But I didn’t see any of that. From my perspective, everyone seemed to be in good spirits.
Some lines at the cash register were long but the shoppers were happy to make small talk with each other while they waited. One lady actually offered to allow my friend to go ahead of her in line after she heard us chatting about being late for an appointment! So I guess even in the world of grand opening chaos, the Canadian way still prevails. It was busy and you needed patience, but it was nice to feel that excitement in the air.
I heard of problems later in the day with the debit/credit machines and over flowing bathrooms. Of course the parking and driving issues also lasted throughout the day and into the evening. I suspect today will be just as busy as all the people, who didn’t skip work on Friday, will come for their turn at this new shopping experience. But overall I think Tanger did a great job for their opening day. I will still try and steal away for my cross border trips, but it’s certainly nice to have something like this so close!
In the end our mission was accomplished. We got in, we checked it out, and we got out. We even managed to get a nice pair of boots to prove we had successfully navigated opening day at the new Tanger Outlets!
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