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Eagan outlet mall: New take on an old concept

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Shoppers in the Twin Cities metro area are excited for the upcoming opening of a new 100-store outlet mall in Eagan. It means they won't have to drive an hour or more outside the metro to shop for designer merchandise at discount prices.

The $100 million Twin Cities Premium Outlets is located just a few miles away from the Mall of America in Bloomington, and will be the only one in the seven-county metro area.

That's a departure from the old practice of locating outlet malls farther away from traditional malls which are usually located in large population centers, in part because the large department stores at shopping malls didn't like the competition, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

The department stores used to enforce a rule that luxury brands shouldn't be sold at nearby outlet stores. And the luxury brands were afraid their reputations would take a hit if they located in an outlet mall.

But those trends are changing now, according to industry observers who spoke to the Pioneer Press.

"By the end of this year, we'll have 50 outlet centers built in the United States since 2006, versus just one traditional (enclosed) mall," said Linda Humphers, editor of the industry publication Value Retail News.

Now, many luxury brands have their own off-price outlet stores and are seeing increased sales because more consumers are looking for bargains on name-brand items, the Pioneer Press notes.

The Eagan outlet mall has a long list of designer stores as tenants, including Armani, 7 for All Mankind, Steve Madden, Saks Fifth Avenue’s discount outlet Sak’s Off Fifth, Coach, Michael Kors, Nike, and Gap Factory Store.

The three other outlet malls in the area, each about an hour's drive from downtown St. Paul, are Albertville Premium Outlets, northwest of the Twin Cities on I-94; Medford Outlet Center, located to the south on I-35; and North Branch Outlets, located north on I-35.

Grand opening preparations

The Twin Cities Premium Outlet Mall, located near the intersection of Highway 13 and Highway 77 (Cedar Avenue) in Eagan, has four days of events planned for its grand opening from Thursday, Aug. 14 to Sunday, Aug. 17. Eagan city officials are preparing for the additional traffic that's expected over those four days, according to the Star Tribune.

Since the mall doesn't open until 10 a.m., which is after the morning rush hour, traffic problems shouldn't be too bad, they say.

City employees will be observing the traffic flow on opening weekend to make sure there are no problems, the Star Tribune notes.

Mall employees will ride shuttles to and from work to free up more parking for customers. And temporary surface lots next to the city's new parking ramp will also be available that weekend, according to the Star Tribune.

The city of Eagan has posted a map with directions to the mall as well as parking information on its website.

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