A blast of metallic confetti cut through the gray skies over Pooler on Thursday morning to mark the grand opening of the new Tanger Outlets Savannah, as thousands of shoppers quickly filled the parking lot.
An hourlong ribbon-cutting ceremony brought out a host of elected officials, business leaders and retail executives with roughly 200 people watching the grand opening spectacle.
Nearly a half-dozen speakers thanked a laundry list of people integral to the center’s construction, including the mall’s co-developers Ben Carter and Steven Tanger.
“It’s definitely cooler in Pooler,” Carter said in a nod to the chilly weather outside as he encouraged shoppers to check out rain jackets at nearby shops.
Touting the 400,000-square-foot center’s economic impact, he said Tanger Outlets had already created 900 jobs and would generate nearly $10 million in tax revenue.
“With the opening here and the restaurants and retail that will come up around the mall, we’ll have almost 1,500 new jobs in this area, which is a fantastic thing for a community,” he said.
Steven Tanger, president and CEO of the Greensboro-based Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, said not only had they achieved their construction deadline but they had also built a “best in class facility” that “delivers a world class shopping experience to Savannah.”
“Tanger Outlets is happy to be part of the growth and excitement taking place in Pooler and Savannah,” Tanger said. “After a lot of anticipation and hard work, it’s finally time to go shopping.”
The complex is one of three new outlet centers Tanger is opening this year as the company continues its expansion. It owns and operates about 44 outlet centers across the U.S. and Canada.
Hundreds of shoppers trickled in earlier in the morning to line up for individual store openings such as Michael Kors and Coach. They’re among 86 stores at the mall. A long line snaked around the Nike store toward the replica lighthouse, which opened about a quarter before 10 a.m. Nike employees jumped up and down in a huddle shouting, “I believe that we can win!” followed by “Swoosh!”
A group of friends at the front of the line had just gotten off their night shift at St. Joseph’s/Candler to be first in line at the sports apparel store, scoring free headphones and $10 gift cards for their fervor.
“We got here at 8:30 a.m.,” said Seth Engelman, who stood in line with his fiancé Emily Wells. “We want to be one of the first people to buy something.”
“Just do it,” said Wells, quoting Nike’s slogan.
Behind them, middle-schooler Shane Bradshaw stood in line with his mom hoping to score some Beats by Dre headphones, admitting he had skipped class to come to the opening.
Several shoppers said they were excited that they wouldn’t have to make the trip to Tanger’s other location in Bluffton, S.C., just over the state line, now that they had one closer.
Alexandra Rodriguez and her friend, Jackie Ramirez, stood in line at Michael Kors, looking to browse the designer’s popular line of bags.
“I want to go to Vera Bradley, Pandora and Coach,” Ramirez said. “I’d rather be in traffic two minutes away from my house than travel 25 minutes somewhere else; it’s convenient.”
A touchscreen kiosk toward the front of the complex allowed shoppers to enter to win designer purses, and several stores gave incentives to the first wave of customers at their doors.
Perhaps the biggest draw Thursday morning was the chance to meet the stars of HGTV’s “Property Brothers,” designers Drew and Jonathan Scott.
Deborah Argerake, Lisa Rogers and Jessie Rosa stood at the front of the line to meet the popular home renovation duo, giddily listing why they like the show.
“They’re twins, they’re 6-foot-4 and they’re gorgeous,” said Argerake, who recently moved from Germany to Guyton and is renovating her own 6,000-square-foot home. “I brought my tool bag for them to sign.”
“Their personalities are opposite, and they feed off each other, and that’s what makes them entertaining,” Rogers said.
Although Pooler officials had warned of possible traffic delays along Interstate 95 at the Pooler Parkway interchange, cars moved freely on and off the interstate and in and out of the mall for most of the morning and into the afternoon. About 90 percent of the mall’s 2,700-space parking lot was filled by 11 a.m.
Police were stationed at the first few stoplights near the entrance to the mall to direct traffic as needed.
Pooler Mayor Mike Lamb, speaking before the ribbon cutting, said he appreciated Tanger and Carter bringing their vision to the city, which has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade.
“This has given us something in our city to be very, very proud of,” Lamb said. “We are definitely now a destination spot. We’re a place where people want to come shop, come eat and come have a good time.”
Carter said it was his goal to reflect the architectural and natural beauty of the Coastal Georgia region, including the lighthouse, bell tower and ornamental fountains.
“Most important is I hope you think it’s a pretty place to visit, to bring your family and friends,” Carter told the crowd. “These projects can change lives and communities.”
ON THE WEB
For more on Tanger Outlets Savannah opening weekend events, go to their Facebook page at facebook.com/TangerOutletsSavannah.