TRAVEL HERE: THE ME TOO MALL IN GRAND PRAIRIE
You’re kidnapped, blindfolded and drugged. When you come to, you find yourself at an outlet mall, but there’s no way for you to tell which one, because all outlet malls look the same. I actually have this nightmare from time to time. Sometimes it’s the outlet mall, another time a grocery store and then again a restaurant.
The Comfort of Immediate Orientation
I’m sure somebody somewhere has done a survey and discovered the comfort of immediate orientation from location to location is viewed as a plus by most people. I’m obviously not one of those people. I’m also sure there is some economy of scale if, no matter where you build it, you build the same mall – but I really don’t care. I find it a little spooky.
A few weekends ago, on the Texas Tax-free Weekend, I avoided the opening of the new Paragon Outlet Mall in Grand Prairie. I dig outlet shopping, but the local news was overrun with reports of how impossible parking would be on opening weekend. I waited a week or two and then made a Thursday morning visit.
Grand Prairie’s New Outlet Mall
First I want to tell you the good stuff. Without a doubt, the people working at this outlet mall are the nicest, most helpful group of people I’ve run into in a very, very long time. So long, that to tell the truth, I’d be tempted to say I’ve never experienced a nicer group of retail people. So, if I based my shopping decisions solely on the level of service I received, I’d never shop anywhere except the Grand Prairie Paragon Outlet Mall.
More good stuff. There’s a great selection of stores. I was only there for a couple of hours and only went down one walkway, from the Food Court to Bloomies, but I found plenty of places to shop. Someday when it’s cooler I’ll go back and visit more stores, but it was hot summer time on the day I chose. I think it’s safe to go now.
And that brings me to the problems. Yes, I’d seen this design for an outlet mall before. I believe the first one was in Myrtle Beach. SC. I’ve also been to one down Round Rock, TX way. I’m sure they’re spread from sea to shining sea, but somebody somewhere is not thinking. All the stores face a central circular walkway. When you enter the parking lot and drive around, all you can see is brick wall. Access to the walkways connecting the stores is limited.
There are three types of malls: the enclosed mall, where it can be challenging to park close to the place you want to shop, but you get air conditioning; the strip center, where with a little luck you can park very close to your destination, but you’re subject to the elements; and the other kind, where you can’t park near anything and you’re stuck out in the weather whatever it may be. The Grand Prairie Paragon Outlet Mall is the other kind of mall.
Now I’ve lived out in California and I know that there are places where the other kind of mall is really no problem. It never rains in Southern California and the temperature over much of the state is always seventy-two degrees. The guys who design these malls must live in Southern California. Someone should take them on a field trip! If you’re not in Southern California, this is not a good thing. In Texas we have two seasons: Damned Hot and Damned Cold. There’s about ten perfect days during the rest of the year that make living here worth it, but the rest are uncomfortable. If it should be something other than a hot or cold day, we’ve also got rain, wind, sleet – not to mention tornado. Shopping outside is not optimal. If you let me park right in front of the store I want to shop at, I can forgive you for some inconvenience, but I can’t do that in Grand Prairie.
I’m a healthy, active, fit person, so all these little details are just a bit of a hindrance. My eight-three year old mother is a different story. Needless to say, she won’t be going back.
Obviously, developers have been successfully building this mall design for a number of years. I know I haven’t been to Myrtle Beach since 2007, so who am I to knock success, but I can tell you this, if I tell you I’m going outlet shopping, look for me at Allen Premium Outlets. They’ve got a lot of the same stores and if I don’t wait for the weekend, I can just drive right up and park right outside the stores I want to visit – especially CAbi, which is my very favorite outlet store in the world and Paragon doesn’t have one.
What about you? What kind of malls do you like best? What outlet store is your outlet store? Have you been to the new outlet mall in Grand Prairie? Where do you usually do your outlet shopping?