Wander Atlantic City’s outlets, and it’s clear that most of the stores conjure up more excitement for women than men.
Of the more than 90 shops and restaurants that make up Tanger Outlets The Walk, most sell clothes and accessories — items that generally prompt female shoppers to browse the stores longer than their male counterparts.
But plans in the works for the city’s newest store could make the outlets more exciting for a larger segment of the male population.
Bass Pro Shops, a sort of mecca for sporting goods, announced plans last year to take up residence on a 4-acre parcel on Atlantic Avenue at the foot of the Atlantic City Expressway.
Larry Whiteley, manager of communications for Bass Pro Shops, said the company is on track to break ground for the store this spring, with a planned opening in late 2013 or early 2014.
Officials have said the new store hopefully will diversify what the outlets already have to offer and provide a destination that people are willing to drive lengths to visit.
Michael Jones, 23, of Brigantine, said the store would offer something the outlets don’t currently provide. Women who shop at the outlets might be drawn to better gift options for their significant others, he noted.
“They could get something better than a pair of Crocs,” he joked.
Featuring elaborate indoor waterfalls, massive aquariums, a boat showroom and live demonstrations, Bass Pro Shops are known for their extensive inventory and ability to keep customers in the store for extended periods of time.
The company’s research shows people will drive more than 50 miles to get to a store. Once inside, customers are likely to spend at least two and a half hours.
There are currently no Bass Pro Shops in the state. The closest open location is in Hanover, Md. That store features a 23,000-gallon aquarium where live weekend fish feedings take place. The company also has plans to build a 200,000-square-foot store in Sayreville, Middlesex County.
While officials hope the store will draw new shoppers to The Walk, some current shoppers said they would definitely take advantage of the new shopping destination.
“I love that place!” said Elisa Gazzara, 20, of Somers Point, who said the store would also be visited by many female patrons. “Us girls want to have a pro fishing shop. We all fish, too.”
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has approved $12.3 million in construction financing for the $18 million project, which will mark the fourth and final phase of planned development at The Walk. Developer David Cordish opened The Walk in 2003 and sold nearly all of the company’s interests to Tanger Factory Outlet Centers in 2011. Cordish, however, maintained the development rights for the fourth phase.
The Tourism District Master Plan calls for improving walkability in the resort and increasing pedestrian traffic on Pacific Avenue with street-level dining and shops, but no set plans for those kinds of developments have been announced.
The ground floors of casino parking garages on Michigan, Missouri and Mississippi avenues could be prime locations for small-scale retail, the plan states.
Opening in March, The Wave parking garage financed by the CRDA was the last new construction to open at The Walk.
Plans originally called for additional retail to be located on the first floor of the garage, but officials later decided to use the space as a focal point for an Arts District. The space will be leased to The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and will feature artists creating their works in public view and sales of their work.
John Singerline, of Bloomfield, Essex County, said he visits The Walk a few times a year. But just how much he would frequent Bass Pro Shops depends on other factors, he said.
“I only shop when we win (at the casinos),” he said.
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