Jessica is a thirty something mom, wife and bargain hunter who enjoys the challenge of putting together a great outfit from thrift stores, yard sales and those big discount bins....
A few days ago I went on a behind the scenes hard hat tour of the splashy new Asheville Outlets under construction on the former site of the Biltmore Square Mall. Several other curious local bloggers and a few eager future employees of the Outlets were escorted around the open air mall while the tour guide filled us in on details, answered our questions and kindly helped clumsy people like myself not to trip and break a bone in the open construction. I got a peek at a bunch of great stores like Nike, Ambercrombie & Fitch, Forever 21, Hanes, Coach, Pandora, and Levi’s.
The amount of progress that has been made on this site is amazing! Every corner I turned there were workers busy as bees putting the final touches on everything. I cannot believe they are opening in a few weeks. While I was walking around I was trying to picture what part of the old mall I was standing in and how drastically different it looks now. Let me tell you, it was really hard because it was like this old, sad mall had just gulped down a double espresso with an extra shot! It definitely energized me and got me excited for the Grand Opening Friday, May 1st. A ribbon cutting ceremony will start at 9am followed by the official opening at 10am. The Grand Opening stage will be in front of the Banana Republic Factory Store and Coach Outlet. Around 75 stores will be in the new Asheville Outlets upon completion with almost all of them available to shop during grand opening weekend. Events continue throughout the weekend with Carson Kressley hosting a Looks for Less Fashion Show on Saturday, May 2nd at 3pm. Sunday May 3rd will be Kids Day with face paintings, balloon art, games and music from 12-6pm.
You can get ahead of the line by attending the Open Doors Open Hearts Charity Preview Night on Thursday, April 30th from 5pm-9pm. Be one of the first shoppers and enjoy prize giveaways, special discounts and some entertainment for your shopping pleasure. Tickets are $20 per person and 100% of ticket proceeds will go to a charity of your choice. This seems like a win-win situation for people like me that are excited to support this new economic boost for Asheville and support some of your favorite charities at the same time. Some of the stats given to us was that the Outlets will add $8.3 million a year in tax revenue on the state and local levels. Over 1,000 construction jobs were created during the constructions phase and once open they will employ 800-1,000 employees. I was walking the tour with some of these employees and they are pretty excited to say the least. The tour guides had to remind them they couldn’t go in their store just yet because they were trying to open the doors. I heard a few squeals. I like seeing other people excited.
What do I like best? I can bring my dog. Woof! There will be a Doggie Watering Fountain & Way Station along with the chance to take them into any store that allows dogs. There will be a sign at the front of the store to let you know if it is ok to bring your four legged friend in with you. They do draw the line at the food court; no doggies allowed. I’m curious how shoppers that aren’t as animal loving as I am will handle the additional visitors. I am equally curious as to which shops will take the plunge and allow animals inside. The open air concept with the gallery roofs that provide spots of shade are something that I really enjoy right now in this lovely spring weather. It will be interesting to see how shopping will hold up in our blustery winter season or during thunderstorms this summer.
I wasn’t able to see the food court and I’m not sure what the food options will be there. Darn. It would be great to see second locations of some of the places we have come to love in Asheville with some local options too. There will be tons of seating including 12 soft couches in the mix. A cyber-bar and free wifi will be available as well.
I am excited for the changes that Asheville Outlets will bring to the west side of the county. I’m a second generation Asheville native and I remember the Biltmore Square Mall in it’s hayday circa 1993 and I loved it back then. It was just so darn easy to get to compared to the Asheville Mall and that crazy Tunnel Road traffic. Most people that I have spoken to recently are very happy for the increased shopping options that the Outlets will bring to that side of town. There is a concern about chain stores taking away from local shopping and that is a valid point. I know that I will continue to support the local shops I love. And honestly, I don’t own a Coach purse because I can’t afford it and the only J. Crew I’ve ever owned came from the thrift shop, but it is nice to have more options and I am always happy to find a bargain.