The speeches were scheduled for 10 a.m. but the sales started an hour earlier and the shoppers were lined up before dawn.

The long-awaited grand opening of Tanger Outlets at the National Harbor got underway Nov. 22 as thousands of residents from around the region stood in line as early as 6 a.m. at most of the 85 stores, ready to dive into the kind of upscale shopping that has long eluded Prince George’s County.

After years of trekking to Tyson’s Corner and Pentagon City in Virginia and Friendship Heights in Chevy Chase, Prince George’s residents gained access to a $100 million, 340,000-square-foot outdoor mall outlet with 85 designer stores, including Michael Kors, J. Crew Factory, Nike Factory Store, Elie Tahari, Calvin Klein, and Coach.

An hour after the shopping began in earnest, the official ribbon cutting ceremony was held with the International Blues Band performing while a fireworks spectacular lit the morning sky.

“I’m excited,” Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said during the ceremony. “It is a great day in Prince George’s County. By the opening of this mall, this county is the place to be. It’s great day for us.”

“What a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful day it is. We have been waiting for this for a very long time and finally the day is here. This is another golden jewel in southern Prince George’s County,” County Council Vice Chairman Obie Patterson said. “I’m looking forward to a strong economic future for businesses in Prince George’s County.”

David Iannucci, the county’s senior economic development advisor, was upbeat, viewing the opening as a start of bright economic future.

“This is a county that it has been underserved by major retail, to leave the county for valuable retail,” he said. “It’s a true milestone in high-end retail opportunity.”

“This is not an opening to me,” said Milt Peterson, chairman of Peterson Companies, the mall’s developer. “To me, this is a celebration. For years residents have wanted quality retail and today we celebrate that. Today we celebrate the finest outlet center in the country.”

Even the outlet chain’s namesake was on hand.

“Hello Prince George’s County,” Stanley Tanger said with a thrilled expression on his face. “As I look over this beautiful area today, it’s hard to believe that this area was vacant a year ago. From a dream to a plan to a beautiful shopping center that our shoppers can enjoy for the future. We have economic confidence in the future of Prince George’s County. You can count on Tanger to be a good corporate neighbor.”

After his speech, Tanger presented a $4,000 check to the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation.

Tanger outlet has 43 outlet centers in 26 states nationwide and in Canada.


Courtney Jacobs

AFRO Staff Writer