When Tanger Factory Outlet Centers acquired The Walk in Atlantic City in mid-2011, the shopping district was already thriving.
David Cordish, whose Cordish Co. sold The Walk and an outlet in Ocean City, Md., to Tanger, estimated annual sales at stores in The Walk were about $500 a square foot — strong even by Tanger standards.
The level of business and community profile were perfect for Tanger Outlets, said Donna J. Danielson, general manager of Tanger Outlets The Walk.
“Atlantic City is a very dynamic community, and we felt that with the local population and strong tourism, it made perfect sense to acquire the property,” Danielson said.
As attractive as The Walk was to Tanger, there were still some things it needed to fit the company’s portfolio of 43 retail properties in 26 states and Canada.
The company has a word for those additions and modifications it has made to The Walk and four other centers it bought then: “Tangerizing.”
Top of the Tanger list was opening a shopper services center, at 2014 Baltic Ave., where eight of the company’s dozen employees in Atlantic City work assisting customers, Danielson said.
“A shopper services center is a big part of Tangerizing,” she said. “If shoppers have questions or want general information, or need a coupon book, they can walk in and talk to a customer service representative.”
The center also signs customers up for the Tanger Club. That gets them those coupon books and special offers by email as well, Danielson said.
Since social media is a component of Tanger marketing — along with newspaper, radio and television ads — club members can text Tanger when visiting and get coupons that way, she said.
The shopper services center also has a public bathroom, which is new to The Walk. That supplements the many stores that make bathrooms available to shoppers, she said.
Another Tanger touch is the installation of huge new directories throughout the outlet, some freestanding 25 feet tall, others on the sides of buildings.
“Our directories are positioned according to how most shoppers are standing, to make them easy to understand,” Danielson said. “Little things matter to the Tanger experience.”
Tanger also made changes to the plaza area in the central part of the outlet.
“The fountain near Starbucks needed repair, and when it’s not running, as in winter, it’s just vacant space, so we changed it into a planter,” she said. That allows the area to offer attractive seating year-round.
Unlike the large anchor stores at conventional malls, Tanger Outlet centers have what President and CEO Steven B. Tanger calls “magnet stores.” These 4,000- to 25,000-square-foot stores — such as the Nike Factory Store in Atlantic City — draw regular customers up to 30 miles away, he told Women’s Wear Daily in December.
The new Bass Pro Shops addition to The Walk almost certainly will be much larger, but that’s a Cordish development on adjacent Cordish property.
“That’s something different, that we don’t have here, so it can only enhance the shopping experience,” Danielson said. “We’re excited to see that it’s joining the area.”
The Tanger family had outlets for its original apparel company as early as 1920. In 1981, Steven Tanger’s father, the late Stanley Tanger, extended the concept and opened the nation’s first all-new outlet center in Burlington, N.C.
Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, publicly traded and organized as a real estate investment trust, had total revenue of $90 million in the third quarter of 2012 and net income of $15 million. Fourth quarter results are expected today.
Steven Tanger told The New York Times in December the company’s centers were 98 percent occupied at the end of the third quarter.
The company told Women’s Wear Daily that it plans to open one or two new outlet centers each year for the next three to five years, and maintain a 20 percent share of the factory outlet market.
Danielson said Tanger is pleased with the performance so far of its Atlantic City center.
“I believe it’s done well, and we hear positive feedback from our tenants as well,” she said. “The hurricane gave us a hiccup, but Martin Luther King Jr. weekend saw a lot of traffic and people started coming back. … If the tenants are happy, we’re happy.”
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