Outlet mall adds food trucks

New ownership plans big changes to attract more shoppers

The Record-Herald

In late January, Destination Outlets took ownership of the outlet mall at I-71/US 35 formerly known as Tanger and, since then, the most common request new management has received from shoppers is to bring food back to the mall.

The mall is located in Jefferson Township and, according to public land transfer records, transferred ownership from Tanger Jeffersonville LLC to JY Destination LP in January for $8 million.

Bringing food options back to the mall was part of the plan for the new management from the get-go, and they are taking it very seriously, according to officials.

“Bringing in food vendors as tenants is naturally going to take some time,” wrote Jeff Weissman, a partner in the new management team, in an email. “We realized that we need to plug the ‘food hole’ immediately, so we reached out to the Central Ohio Food Truck Association for help. Shoppers will be pleased to see a variety of exciting food options rolling up to the mall almost daily. And, as the weather gets warmer, each day will bring a kaleidoscope of cuisines on wheels.”

In anticipation of higher food truck traffic, the management of Destination Outlets has contracted with a company to convert one of their suites into a second lounge area, designated as the indoor dining area for the “Food Truck Village.”

“We’re also upgrading the vending options in the lounge and throughout the mall,” explained Jason Vorchheimer, a senior member of the management team. “And this is just stage one. We are targeting fast food chains and sit-down dining establishments to become long-term tenants of Destination Outlets.”

Aside from a focus on food, there is a lot of work being done behind the scenes to transform the mall into a destination for fun and entertainment to add to its draw as a great place to shop.

“Our goal is to transform this outlet center into an exciting destination for the surrounding local counties and for visitors from near and far,” wrote Weissman. “SHOP – EAT – PLAY is our tag-line, and we’ve been working hard making progress in all three.”

Although there have been some recent store closures, the Destination team came in with a plan. They are meeting with national retailers, regional chains and local boutiques.

“Although bringing in new tenants takes time, we are encouraged by the response we have received so far,” wrote Weissman. “We already have strong interest from food vendors, boutiques, and a variety of fun-activity establishments. The national retailers have a longer sales cycle, but we have been receiving positive feedback on that level as well.”

Shoppers from surrounding counties have inundated Destination Outlets with requests for establishments that will be fun for a family day trip and for teens to have a wholesome place to spend time as well.

Store managers are excited that these new attractions will bring even more shoppers from beyond the local area to the popular outlet center, especially in the colder months.

“There are other exciting projects in the works,” wrote Jennifer Snyder, Destination Outlets’ general manager. “Although our retailers will be honoring Tanger’s gift cards for the next few years, we have our own exciting loyalty program in the works. Our smartphone app, which is scheduled for release in late March, is simple, fun and can help our shoppers earn great rewards just by showing up and walking around the mall. We’ll be releasing more details on the app as we get closer to launch.”

Snyder continued, “beyond that, we are organizing fun fairs and events for various weekends throughout the year. Our social media team has kicked into full gear. They are working with a bunch of retailers and establishments, including local hotels, to bring our shoppers discounts and chances to win some nice prizes. Stay tuned for that as well!”

The Destination Outlets management would love to hear feedback. What do you like about the mall, and what do you want to see added, fixed or changed? Reach out to them online at www.destinationoutlets.com or on social media @destinationoutlets.

New ownership plans big changes to attract more shoppers

The Record-Herald