Outlet mall’s prime recovery

Associated Press

BURLINGTON — Business at the Prime Outlets mall is bouncing back after the slowdown caused by the East Coast terrorist attacks.

The effects on retail sales may have been more noticeable at Prime Outlets because a large percentage of the 2.6 million people who shop there each year are from Canada.

Sparse shopping crowds led to drops in sales for a number of shops, store managers and owners said. Now, two months after the incident, foot traffic has improved and many mall workers are optimistic about the upcoming holiday season.

The 45-unit, strip-style outlet center on Fashion Way features factory-direct and discounted merchandise from several national companies. Prime Outlets has 38 tenants with the addition of its latest — Eddie Bauer.

The national clothing store has leased the former 6,000-square-foot Bugle Boy location. A construction crew is renovating the space and preparing for a Nov. 16 opening, said Ray Andrews, mall manager.

The terrorist attacks, which brought tightened security at border crossings, have made it challenging for Canadians to enter and leave the United States. But that’s not the only factor affecting mall business, Andrews said.

Part of the problem has been a low exchange rate on the Canadian dollar that has made shopping in the United States more expensive. In addition, layoffs at Boeing and area high-tech companies as well as the softening stock market have left Americans with less disposable income, Andrews said.

"It all ties together," he said.

Sales at Vans Shoes Outlet have dropped significantly, said manager Tammy Pietrczak.

Before the September attack, the store was meeting and exceeding planned growth projections, and had been the past three years.

"We were rocking," said Sara Carty, assistant manager.

Canadian sales have almost been nonexistent since Sept. 11, Carty said. Foot traffic has improved, but hasn’t returned to normal levels.

Not everyone at the mall has been affected financially by recent events. Some stores may not be as busy, but shoppers are still spending money, said several shop managers and owners.

Ken Rushane and his wife Cindi own and operate the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and the Country Rose.

Mall traffic has been down between 3 percent to 4 percent, but customers are spending more money on chocolate, Ken Rushane said.

Some Canadian customers have expressed frustrations with car inspections at the border, said Rushane, who believes Canadians have been traveling to the area less since the attacks. He hasn’t seen much Canadian currency lately.

Other managers said Canadian customers have indicated they are staying in the area longer because of the time required to cross the border. Rather than coming for the day, shoppers are staying overnight, they said.

Security issues at the border haven’t been too much of a problem for Michelle Feaver, a Canadian who shopped at Prime Outlets recently while visiting a friend in Bellingham.

Feaver said she used to shop in Washington quite a bit, but hasn’t too much recently because of the exchange rate.

"Its really expensive to come shopping," she said.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

FILE - In this file photo dated Monday, March 11, 2019, rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The number of deaths in major air crashes around the globe fell by more than half in 2019 according to a report released Wednesday Jan. 1, 2020, by the aviation consultancy To70, revealing the worst crash for the year was an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX on March 10 that lost 157 lives. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, FILE)
US board says Boeing Max likely hit a bird before 2019 crash

U.S. accident investigators disagree with Ethiopian authorities over the cause of a 2019 Boeing 737 Max crash.

Paddywack co-owner Shane Somerville with the 24-hour pet food pantry built by a local Girl Scout troop outside of her store on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
An out-paw-ring of support: Mill Creek pantry feeds pets, day or night

With help from local Girl Scouts, the Mill Creek pet food store Paddywack is meeting the need for pet supplies in a pinch.

Kelly Cameron is the woodworker behind Clinton-based business Turnco Wood Goods. (David Welton)
Whidbey woodworkers turn local lumber into art

In the “Slab Room” at Madrona Supply Co., customers can find hunks of wood native to the south end of Whidbey Island.

Siblings Barbara Reed and Eric Minnig, who, co-own their parent’s old business Ken’s Camera along with their brother Bryan, stand outside the Evergreen Way location Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022, in Everett, Washington. After five decades in business, Ken’s will be closing its last two locations for good at the end of the year. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Print it or lose it: Ken’s Camera closes after decades caught on film

The local legend, processing film photos since 1971, will close its locations in Mount Vernon and Everett at the end of 2022.

Store owner Jay Behar, 50, left, and store manager Dan Boston, 60, right, work to help unload a truck of recliners at Behar's Furniture on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. Behar's Furniture on Broadway in Everett is closing up shop after 60 years in business. The family-owned furniture store opened in 1963, when mid-century model styles were all the rage. Second-generation owner, Jay Behar says it's time to move on. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Behar’s Furniture in Everett closing after 60 years

“It’s time to move on.” The small family-owned store opened in 1963 and grew to cover an entire city block.

Katy Woods, a Licensed Coach, Branch Manager, and experienced Banker at Coastal Community Bank.
Coastal Community Bank Offers Classes for Businesses

To support local business owners and their teams, Coastal offers complimentary Money… Continue reading

Innovative Salon Products online fulfillment employees, from left, Stephanie Wallem, Bethany Fulcher, Isela Ramirez and Gretchen House, work to get orders put together on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, at the company’s facility in Monroe, Washington. The company began including pay, benefits and perks to its job listings over a year ago, well ahead of the new statewide mandate to include a pay range on job postings at companies with over 15 employees. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New state law requires employers to give pay range in job postings

Washington’s new pay transparency law aims to narrow wage gaps based on race or gender — though some companies may seek loopholes.

Nelson Petroleum on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Egregious:’ Everett fuel company repeatedly broke water standards

Nelson Petroleum faces a lawsuit from an Everett Mall Way strip mall over discharges into a nearby wetland.

Mike Lane and son Dave Lane, right, in front of their family store Everett Vacuum with their popular sign and saying, “everything we sell sucks” on Thursday, April 7, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Suck it up — and shop it up — at Everett Vacuum

After 80 years on Broadway, the family-run store with the “Everything we sell sucks” sign moved to Hewitt Avenue.

Customers leave J. Matheson Gifts Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s longtime J. Matheson gift store finds new life in Seattle

Miranda Matheson had her mother’s blessing when she opened a new J. Matheson Urban Gifts & Kitchens in Green Lake.

Carla Fisher and Lana Lasley take a photo together with Tommy Chong during 210 Cannabis Co’s grand opening Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, in Arlington, Washington. Fisher and Lasley waited in line solely to get a photo with Chong. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Stillaguamish Tribe opens retail cannabis shop

More than 1,500 attended a grand opening on Dec. 10. The venture comes amid a boom in tribal cannabis stores.

Franco Montano works on putting together a wreath at his workshop on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022 in Monroe, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Monroe man runs taco truck by day, makes 100 wreaths by night

Franco Montano, a former factory worker, started making the holiday wreaths in 2008. He has expanded into a thriving family business.