The Outlet Shoppes makes an impact on the city

Selena Borjas, TAMIU intern

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“It is finally opened! I am so excited to shop especially because we didn’t have stores like Michael Kors,” Eva Gonzalez, a Laredo resident, said about The Outlet Shoppes at Laredo, which opened its doors with a grand opening on April 5 and 6, 2017.

A 100 million dollar project, the outlet is located in downtown Laredo. It is besides the Gateway to the Americas International Bridge and offers a view of the sister city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

The Outlet Shoppes provide new stores in the city such as Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, and the restaurant Johnny Rockets.

Quick Background

The Outlet Shoppes were a long waited project for the city as the previous business located in the same spot, the River Drive Mall, opened in 1970 and closed its doors in 2003. The buildings that made up the River Drive Mall were untouched; though, when the property was bought by Modern Stern Realty plans in 2003, the plan to reopen it begun. However, the plan wasn’t met with success until now.

The Mall del Norte, which opened its door in 1977, has been the only destination for local residents and visitors after the River Drive Mall was closed. The Outlet Shoppes can provide a new recreational and shopping experience for visitors.

Providing for the community

The marketing director of The Outlet Shoppes at Laredo, Erica Contreras, in a phone interview, discussed about what the new shopping location can provide for the community.

“The Outlet Shoppes at Laredo provide for the community a great shopping experience, it brings tourism to the community. It brings jobs to the community as well,” Contreras stated.

She continued by saying that the Outlet Shoppes are a different experience from others in the south Texas region because of its location.

“It is located in the downtown area, it is located in by the banks of the Rio Grande. It is blocks away from the border with Mexico. [Once] again it provides a great shopping experience for everybody,” she stated.

The Outlet Shoppes are friendly competition to the Mall del Norte, which has been the only mall since the River Drive mall closed as mentioned before; however, Contreras said they are working closely with Mall Del Norte to bring more tourism together. She also mentioned working with local hotels.

“We are working closely with Mall del Norte soon to bring something in and with the local hotels as well. I am closely working with some of the local hotels to bring tourism as well,” Contreras said.

The Outlet Shoppes are part of the plan of Laredo to revive the downtown area back to the glory days it was before. Contreras explained how business investments such as the Outlet Shoppes are a way to help Laredo grow and help the community.

“We are happy to be part of Laredo and the revivification of downtown. We are excited for this and we hope that us being here also helps out with that [process]. The more we have, not only in the downtown but in the city, the better opportunities everyone in Laredo will have,” she said proudly.

 Visitors’ opinions

Laredoans and visitors alike expressed their first impression and comments about the outlet.

Alexis Mendoza, a college student and Laredo resident, liked the Outlet Shoppes, because of its location.

“My overall impression of the outlet is good because it provides the community with a new location to shop other than Mall del Norte. It is close by the downtown community; people won’t need to travel to other locations as they can just go to the outlet to look for what they want,” he said.

However, Mendoza mentioned he will probably buy things online despite the new stores. He said he will buy online when he “cannot find [the products] he wants.

Gonzalez also said she will still buy out of Laredo and online.

“I sometimes find better deals online so I will continue to shop there. I don’t travel a lot to go shopping, so I still like San Marcos outlets better,” she said.

Not all visitors were impressed by the new shopping location. The Outlet Shoppes at Laredo Facebook page

Eddie Benavides, on The Outlet Shoppes at Laredo Facebook page, stated how he didn’t think the outlets offered good prices.

“The prices are definitely not outlet prices. I would give it a negative 100,” he stated.

Benavides continued stating that the design of the Outlet Shoppes is also a negative and dangerous as well in his opinion.

“The design is so flawed. The walkway that connects the two buildings, has a step so kids can just step up and jump down,” he commented on the page.

Another visitor by the name of Tobias had similar thoughts about the design of the buildings. She commented on how the concrete floors are not ideal due to Laredo’s very hot weather almost all year round. She continued by stating how a store had a leaking pipe which made the clothes smell “awful like [the] sewer”.

Though, she praised the Outlet Shoppes because of its location among other things.

“It’s a good place to hang out. If you want great deals you have to look for them not just go to a store and leave in 5 minutes. I bought a pair of Converse shoes and a pair of Nike shoes both for 50 dollars each. I totally wouldn’t found them at the Mall del Norte,” she stated.

Poll Results: Welcome tourists!

The Magnet Tribune conducted a poll on its website about what people think The Outlet Shoppes at Laredo will bring to the city. However, the same poll was conducted on a Facebook page as well. Both poll’s results were added together.

The poll had 46 responds. There were six options for poll takers to choose from: additional job opportunities, attract more tourists to the city, revive the downtown area, improve the city’s economy, another recreational activity for residents, and I’m not sure.

The most voted option was “attract more tourists to the city” with a 22 percent response. Followed by “additional job opportunities” at 12 percent. Below a pie graph shows the rest of the results.

 

As indicated in the poll and Benavidez’s comments on Facebook, the Outlet Shoppes have impacted the city mostly in a positive light. However, Contreras said she and her office are appreciative of any reviews, comments, or suggestions concerning the outlet.

“We take suggestions and reviews and anything [like] complains and comments. We take them serious. We appreciate any suggestion because that will help us make a better experience for everybody,” she stated.

Contreras provided two ways someone can input comments. You can send an email to [email protected] or on the Facebook page “The Outlet Shoppes at Laredo”.