If you’re a regular reader of StyleBlueprint, then you know we are all about living local, and that means supporting all of the great stores and unique businesses around the Mid-South.
But we’d be remiss if we didn’t pay attention to all the retail buzz that’s been generated recently by the confirmation of a Nordstrom Rack coming in the near future (sometime in 2017) to Laurelwood in East Memphis, and the opening of an IKEA near Wolfchase Mall, slated for fall 2016.
Like those soon-to-come retail openings, the late fall 2015 ribbon cutting at the Tanger Outlets in DeSoto County, MS, was a highly anticipated event. Opening to big crowds right before the holiday shopping season, the open-air mall features some 70 upscale outlets from brand name and designer retailers, including Michael Kors, Coach, Ann Taylor, Nike, White House|Black Market, Banana Republic, Columbia Sportswear, Off Broadway Shoes and Talbots.
H&M joined the Tanger offerings April 7 in a huge 26,000-square-foot space that includes a store-within-a-store section for accessories and sports apparel, and also features H&M’s collection for children, from newborns to 14-year-olds. Sadly, there is no Polo Ralph Lauren or L’Occitane, or higher-end designers like Burberry or Neiman Marcus Last Call, as there are at other Tanger Outlets. But a girl can dream that perhaps one day some of these retailers may find their way to the area, can’t she?
Depending on what area of the Mid-South you call home, a trip to Tanger is either a quick drive or a half-day commitment. The mall is located at I-55 and Church Road in Southaven, MS, about 18 miles from downtown Memphis. We’ve scouted out all the information you need to make an outlet mall run a hassle-free experience.
The mall’s 70-plus stores are open air, and like a traditional indoor mall, there is parking all around the center. But – and this is a big but – at this writing, there is just one entrance into the mall property, from Church Road. You cannot get into the mall from the I-55 north feeder road/entrance ramp, which runs along the south property line. There is ample parking for regular weekday shoppers, but on weekends — especially holiday weekends, and the days leading up to a holiday weekend — expect some frustration. During those high-traffic times, there are enterprising church and school groups who will “help” you park, for a fee, in nearby fields.
A nice touch is the handful of charging stations for electric vehicles found in the parking lot at the south end of the property, across from the playground.
Layout and Amenities
The mall is laid out in a big rectangle, with larger stores anchoring the corners and major entrances. One of the best features on the outlet’s web page is the interactive mall map, which allows you to easily locate stores ahead of time and lists their current sales and specials, as well. Throughout the mall, interactive electronic directories can be found.
Some lifestyle features throughout the mall include a fire pit, a shaded playground and markers commemorating the history of blues music in Mississippi. Free WiFi is also available throughout the mall.
In addition to the implied outlet pricing, some pretty decent deals can be found online – again, on the mall’s website – and through snail mail, if you sign up for the Tanger Club. Coupons are sent seasonally, for special holiday events and for flash sales. Being in the club also allows you to pick up a special coupon book at the center, something that’s also available to members of AAA and active members of the military. If you sign up for the Tanger Club, be sure to show your card every time you make a purchase at any store at the outlet, as your purchases add up for special gifts and rewards.
We can’t decide if the lack of a small food court or restaurant means there are growth plans in the works, or if it was just an oversight. We are definitely rooting for a growth plan! Currently, there are just two snack spots: an Auntie Anne’s (no complaints there) and a Great American Cookie Company. On select dates and weekends (including May 30, July 1-2 and July 29-30), Chick-fil-A will have a pop-up tent between Toys “R” Us and Christopher & Banks. Additionally, food trucks are on-site on select weekends throughout the year, plus the Christmas holiday shopping season, on the lane near H&M.
Across the highway, the Filling Station Grille serves up breakfast until noon, plus burgers and pub fare all day and into the evening. A group of the usual chain restaurant suspects can be found just a few miles up the highway on Goodman Road.
StyleBlueprint’s 5 Rules of Outlet Shopping:
1. Go early in the week.
Shopping at outlets early in the week often helps you avoid crowds and find the best selection. Monday or Tuesday is usually when they’re restocking, and it’s not as crowded.
2. Sign up for coupons and clubs.
Check the websites of your favorite outlet brands, as well as the outlet mall company, for email signups and coupons; you may score some serious savings by joining their email lists.
3. Check the seams and fabric for quality.
Is the lining crooked, or are seams narrow or poorly finished? Is the fabric less than stellar? If you can answer yes to any of these, then take a pass, bargain or not.
4. Just because it’s an outlet, you’re not guaranteed a bargain.
Keep your smartphone at the ready to compare pricing with your local retailers — you may be surprised to see the pricing is lower at regular retail stores.
5. Know the return rundown.
Be sure to check each store’s return policy, which can vary wildly. This is especially true if you’ve come a long distance, as you will be less likely to schlep your purchases back for a return.
Tanger Outlets Southaven is located at the northeast quadrant of I-69/55 and Church Road in Southaven, MS. The address is 5205 Airways Blvd. , Southaven, MS 38671. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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