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With the push of a button, the Outlet Collection | Seattle era begins
Lured by the promise of giveaways, celebrity meet and greets, and prizes to be awarded to the first 1,000 people through the doors, curious shoppers came to see what changes Glimcher Reality Trust had wrought to the shopping center formerly known as the SuperMall.
Hundreds of the faithful milled in front a speaking stand inside the main mall entrance last Thursday morning, waiting for the grand re-opening ceremonies to start.
Behind the stand, shielding the reworked concourse from prying eyes, a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall black curtain.
Shortly after 10 a.m., to the flashing of countless cameras and the booming of music, Michael Glimcher, chairman of the board and CEO of Glimcher Realty Trust, Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis, and Greg Fleser, general manager of the Outlet Collection | Seattle appeared.
"At the risk of spoiling a very big surprise, I'm going to tell you what's behind the curtain — over a million square feet of the Pacific Northwest's largest, fully-enclosed outlet mall," Fleser said, as a fresh breaker of applause swept over him.
"Citizens of Auburn, we have this brand new mall," said Lewis, enfolding the renovated mall into a broader recounting of other building projects in Auburn.
"I have never been more proud," Glimcher said, "to be a part of this community. Because I think as a company, as a community, as a municipality, everybody came together. ... Everyone we worked with here worked as if it were their mall, and ultimately it is your mall."
Then Glimcher hit "a giant pretend button," the curtain rose, and the era of The Outlet Collection | Seattle officially began.
"Let's go shopping," Glimcher urged customers streaming past him onto the concourse.
There to greet them, the culmination of the yearlong, $35 million redevelopment and rebranding project that spruced up the center with new flooring, lighting, entrances, furniture and family restrooms, a new dining emporium and a children's soft play area. An interior concourse connector was added so people could walk quickly through the interior of the shopping center without having to go all the way around.
The renovation attracted top retailers, including Coach Factory Outlet, Nike Factory Store, Michael Kors, J. Crew Factory, Brooks Brothers Factory, and H&M. These brands join the outlet mall's existing designer fashion stores, including Tommy Hilfiger Company Store, Nordstrom Rack, Ann Taylor Factory Store, and Banana Republic Factory.
"Since introducing the new brand, we've invested $35 million into the center to create a designer fashion mall environment featuring some of the top outlet brands in the world. As part of the project, we've revitalized more than 100,000 square feet of merchant space, added vibrancy and relevancy to the center, and maximized the continued growth opportunities presented within the outlet sector," Fleser said.
The first 1,000 center patrons through the main entrance received an exclusive swag bag and door prizes.
"Oct. 17 marked the culmination of our transformation from a hybrid full price and outlet center to a pure outlet center under The Outlet Collection brand," Fleser said. "This effort demonstrates our commitment to serving as a top shopping destination in the Pacific Northwest and a long-term fixture in the growth of the Auburn community."
Glimcher, which owns and manages The Outlet Collection | Seattle, unveiled The Outlet Collection brand in May 2012 as part of the company's strategy to continuously improve quality and identify growth opportunities within its portfolio. The Outlet Collection brand includes The Outlet Collection | Jersey Gardens.
Three Tacoma residents described their impressions.
"We came out because we got an advertisement," said Kele, who declined to give her last name. "We're going to come back tomorrow to actually do more shopping so it's, hopefully, not as crazy. This is a little crazy,"
"Very nice inside," said her son Zack.
"It looks way better," added daughter Stephanie. "A lot more elegant."