So, I did it. It was on a whim, and it was crazy, but it happened! Outlet shopping at its finest. With all three of my boys.
I am pretty sure that most of the country currently live within driving distance of an outlet mall. I mean, they are EVERYWHERE! Outlet shopping used to be an excursion, a real day event. You would plan where you were going, how long you would stay, where to lunch and take pit stops. It was an event! Growing up, we didn’t have outlets near us in the Twin Cities and my outlet shopping began with visits to the Tanger outlets in Rehoboth Beach, DE. It was an annual event, a day spent trolling the Ralph Lauren, Gap and Coach Factory stores… Nowadays outlets are a dime a dozen and generally located in near-enough second or third ring suburbs. There is no need for a day trip.
Outlet malls may be more common, but that doesn’t mean that the shops are less worthy of at least one trip… And on Sunday I got the itch to get the kids out of the house and check out the newest member of the suburban outlet family in the Twin Cities area: The Twin Cities Premium Outlets located on Eagan Outlets Parkway in Eagan, MN – a good 40 minutes from my house.
About 5 minutes into the drive Aiden asked if we were almost there. I should have turned around.
Even though the ride started out questionably, I ventured on as I was sure to find something neat at the stores of the Eagan center which are not in the Albertville outlet closest to my home (less than 20 minutes). True Religion, Saks Off 5th, Armani, J.Crew Factory Store… Oh, and I needed to stop in Sunglass Hut to get a couple new rubber arms for my Ray-Bans. Okay, this was totally going to be worth it.
Not so much.
We arrived. We got a decent parking spot in the lot located outside Saks Off 5th, so that was a good sign. It was cold, but we were ready to walk the mall. Our first stop was one of our most lucrative, although a bit disturbing. Saks was filled to the brim with racks and racks of last season’s designer fashions – most of which still held ridiculous price tags, plus all that scrounging for a deal or a really hot find – ick and overwhelming. It was the same in Men’s Women’s and even the tiny racks of kids clothes. Our only luck was in the shoes where I did find a pair of booties I’d been coveting and stalking on Nordstrom.com for a sale price. YAY, on sale PLUS 40% off.
After Saks we ventured into the belly of the mall. This is what I have to say about almost every store we visited – the procurement and distribution for these retailers to the MN area is so far off base – it became almost silly. They all need to get together and take note of the fact that a good number of us women are a size 4-12 in the chilly Twin Cities. ALL I was able to find were XXS and XXL (J.Crew Factory Store, I’m talking to you) and size 25 or size 31 denim (you are sadly out of stock in almost all sizes, True Religion, and you are cheaper at Nordstrom Rack). Boo. And these were not the only guilty retailers. I’ve never had an experience like it. Every store. No sizes.
Then the kicker. I had a reason to be there – the Sunglass Hut. I needed replacement rubber nubs for the arms on my sunglasses. We strolled in – everything over priced and then marked down to regular retail to look like it was on sale…
“I’m looking for these, please” I held my glasses out to the teenage gal working there, “They gave me replacements once at the Sunglass Hut in Ridgedale,” I explained. “Oh, we don’t have the kits for replacements here yet. We are too new, I guess,” she said. Too new? Listen, chick, are you new? Wouldn’t one expect the newest stores to have the most stocked repair and replacement kits? “Well, okay, what do you suggest,” I offered her the opportunity to provide excellent customer service and redeem herself. “Well, the Mall has three locations. It’s up the freeway from here. You could try there.” And she walked away to help other customers. Um, ye-aaa-ha.
The children’s stores were crowded and I probably could find better items and better deals at Macy’s or Nordstrom’s, or online, really. Almost all stores gave me tons of trouble trying to manuever with a stroller – isn’t there an OSHA law about three-foot aisleways in retail shopping locations? I smell about a million violations! It’s kind of giving me anxiety writing about it…
Honestly, unless you live down the street and this is the closest thing to a mall near you, I would plan to avoid the hassle, the crowds, the over-priced “discounted” items and the lack of sizes at the Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan. I think I will stick to what I know in outlet shopping, should I catch the fever again, and find what I need always stocked in plenty of “middle” sizes at the Albertville Premium Outlets. For now, Eagan, you are the evil step-sister in outlet malls.
If you decide to venture out there, if you have already, or if you really agree/disagree with my assessment, offer your thoughts in the comments. I promise, no judgement! Maybe you had a better experience and your outlet shopping at it’s finest really was, well, fine!