The word is out.
Under Armor, Tommy Hilfiger, Banana Republic Factory, Calvin Klein, Columbia Sportswear, Kay Jewelers Outlet, Levi’s Outlet Store, Converse and Zale’s Outlet The Diamond Store will all be within a stone’s throw of VWC by June 29 this year.
Simon Property Group, the same mall developer responsible for the highly trafficked Williamsburg Outlets, released the above list as the first nine companies set to be among the 90 outlet stores at the Norfolk Premium Outlets near Wesleyan Drive.
Although Simon Groups will not officially confirm other potential outlet stores, a job opportunity site called indeed.com has listed openings at the Premium Outlets for Gap, American Eagle Outfitters, Oshkosh B’Gosh, Sunglass Shack and Charlotte Russe Inc.
Interest in these stores across campus is mixed.
“I don’t think college students have much interest or even could afford to have much interest in diamonds and designer clothes… When I go shopping it’s mainly places like Forever 21, Kohl’s, places like that that have good bargain sections,” junior Spanish education major Liz Brisson said.
While many students express excitement surrounding the outlets, most say they will probably stick to shopping at bargain places like TJ Maxx, Ross and, as junior religious studies major Ryan Fitzgibbon said, even thrift stores.
“It doesn’t really sound like they’re trying to appeal to college student budgets,” Fitzgibbon said.
Senior international and French studies major Isis Percell, who is employed at a discount store in the Janaf Shopping Center off of Military Highway, agrees with this sentiment. She expressed confidence that outlet prices will still be too high for college students and that business to neighboring discount stores will not be harmed.
“I think it will take away some business for sure, but because I work at a discount store they still will probably come here even more so because they’ll see the prices at the outlet,” Percell said.
Not all students are uninterested, however. Sophomore Emily Testroet is excited for seasonal sales at the outlets.
“The Outlet Stores, especially during the summer if you catch them during the right seasons, have really, really good sales… you can get good stuff at decent prices at these places if they have good sale sections, plus sales on top of that’s always helpful,” Testroet said.
Additionally, students looking for sports gear plan to look at Columbia Sports.
While students have mixed feelings about the stores, many are eager to seek employment opportunity at the outlets. Sophomore Christina Scott is eagerly awaiting Simon’s next release of confirmed outlet stores.
“I work at Gap back home so, I am hoping to get transferred to a Gap or Old Navy. For me, they’re so convenient. The commute would be really easy,” Scott said.
As some students look for jobs at these outlets, others are interested to see how their existing jobs will be influenced by the onset of traffic the outlets will bring. Sophomore Henry Tasker, currently employed at a local radio station, is among students concerned about how daily commutes will change with the new construction in an already high-traffic area.
“It’s going to affect my job because that’s the way I go when I go to my job and it’s usually in rush hour,” Tasker said.
Some are already planning alternative routes to campus to avoid the predicted traffic.
“I might try driving to campus a different way than the interstate exit that’s right off Northampton Boulevard,” Library Circulation Supervisor Karen Devereaux said.
Others, like Brisson and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Seward, are optimistic about the city’s plans for traffic flow.
“If the situation was left as it is now, I think it would be a hot mess, but hopefully with the new road construction it will be better,” Brisson said.
Seward expressed total confidence in the city’s plans.
“I think that with the new traffic patterns that they’re going to be putting in place and proper management, it’s going to see an increase to the area, but I think they’ve got a plan and it’s going to be used,” Seward said.
While some are wary of the construction, others argue that the outlets will help improve the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area significantly.
“I think for Wesleyan students it’s exciting for restaurants, places to go,” C.J. Cahil, who works for enrollment, said.
Brisson said she sees the increased traffic through this area as a way to bring up the area financially. Seward seconded this opinion.
For VWC, the addition of the outlet mall could mean an increase in prospective student interest, as Seward explained.
“I think you definitely get people attracted to the outlets from all different areas that may not have heard of us,” Seward said.
Seward is hopeful that as new people come through the area, they will become aware of VWC and potentially want to come by and take a closer look.