From early-bird giveaways to traffic concerns, here's the lowdown on the opening weekend for N.J.'s newest outlet center
GLOUCESTER TWP. -- N.J.'s newest outlet mall, Gloucester Premium Outlets in Gloucester Township, will officially open its doors Thursday.
The 376,000 square-foot shopping center, under construction for more than a year, will kick off a weekend of events in the morning with a press conference and a ribbon cutting featuring elected officials, followed by fireworks in the evening and days of giveaways, live entertainment and a celebrity appearance on Saturday.
Whether you're planning on organizing a back-to-school shopping trip, seeking early-bird giveaways or just want to know what to expect when it comes to traffic and parking in the area, here's what you need to know about the outlets opening:
Expect a crowd
Gloucester Township police issued a traffic advisory on Wednesday afternoon, warning area residents that the location and streets surrounding the outlet center -- positioned just off Route 42 exit 7b between the Black Horse Pike, College Drive, Zimmerman Driver and Cooper Boulevard -- will see a high number of vehicles and pedestrians throughout the weekend.
Police, who will be on hand at the event, are urging drivers to be on the watch for pedestrians, and to not park along roadways or outside the designated area. If a vehicle is causing an issue, they warn it will be towed.
In addition to the parking area at the outlets, nearby Camden County College will be available for overflow parking at their 1, 3 and 4 lots.
Don't worry if you're running late
The doors to the outlets 90 retail stores will open at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning, but special to the opening weekend, the shopping center will host extend hours and remain open until 10 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and close at 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Shoppers who stick around until 9:15 p.m. on Thursday will be treated to a fireworks show.
Starting Monday, stores will resume regular hours of 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.
But get there early for giveaways
While the outlets' main hook is their consistent offerings of brand-name goods for steep discounts when compared to department stores, a number of retailers have announced special sales and offers to coincide with the grand opening event.
According to the Gloucester Premium Outlets' website, early bird shoppers can find deals including:
Retailers including the GUESS Factory Store, Nike Factory Store, bebe, Puma, Steve Madden, Timmy Hilfiger and Under Armour will feature a DJ in-store.
Prizes, raffles and special sales will also be featured at Christopher & Banks, Clarks Bostonian, Corningware Corelle & More, Hanesbrands, J.Crew, Jockey, Lane Bryant Outlet, Rack Room Shoes, Rockport, The Limited, Vera Bradley, Wilsons Leather and Yankee Candle.
Shoppers can also register at the outlets' Guest Services at its Market Hall to win numerous prize packages.
For the full list of sales, visit the Gloucester Premium Outlets website.
Details on the celebrity guest
Star of The Real Housewives of New York, author and founder of the Skinnygirl brand Bethenny Frankel will be on hand on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gloucester Outlets' VIP Shopper Club Lounge.
At 1 p.m. she'll speak about her must-haves for summer, with an autograph session scheduled for 1:30 p.m. The outlets' website says she'll "mingle with fans as time and and space permits," and only sign autographs. At 3:30 p.m. Frankel will speak about accessorizing on the go and taking a "look from day to night" with another autograph session scheduled for 4 p.m.Michelle Caffrey may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ShellyCaffrey. Find the South Jersey Times on Facebook.