VF Factory Outlet Grand Opening Boosts Traffic at Belz Factory Outlet World Lakeland
Two pioneers of the factory outlet mall industry, Belz Enterprises and Vanity Fair, have joined together to open a VF Factory Outlet at Belz Factory Outlet World Lakeland. This summer, the two companies celebrated the official grand opening of VF Factory Outlet's 56th store. The 22,800-square-foot store is VF's fourth Tennessee factory outlet location and its first at a Belz property.
"Vanity Fair is generally recognized for beginning the outlet shopping phenomenon in 1970 and still attracts millions of shoppers each year," said Andrew J. Groveman, senior vice president, Belz Enterprises. "In 1979, Belz Enterprises opened the first enclosed outlet mall in the country. Both companies are pioneers in the development of factory outlet shopping."
Local Lakeland officials, Belz management personnel and VF Factory Outlet representatives all were on hand for the ribbon cutting on July 20 to kick off the opening weekend. Additional activities included live music, face painting, clowns and a magic act. The store gave away traditional VF teddy bears, clad in Lee jeans and a logo t-shirt, to the first 1,000 customers through the door. Customers could also register to win free prizes such as VF Factory Outlet gift certificates, jeans and backpacks.
According to Jabbar Smith, Lakeland's VF Factory Outlet store manager, sales since opening weekend have been phenomenal.
"We are doing exceptionally well," said Smith. "The corporate office is very excited with our sales volume. We had outstanding sales during opening weekend and are continuing to see very high numbers. Plus we began to see repeat customers within the first month of business."
Headquartered in Reading, Pennsylvania, VF Factory Outlet operates 61 stores in 27 states. VF Factory Outlet is the retail outlet division of VF Corporation, the world's largest publicly held apparel company located in Greensboro, North Carolina. The company's brand names include Lee, Vanity Fair, Wrangler, Healthtex, JanSport, Lily of France and others.
"Most of our merchandise is made up of over-runs, canceled orders or discontinued items," said Smith. "There are some irregular items, but approximately 98 percent of the merchandise is first quality."
Groveman says that Belz Enterprises is thrilled with VF Factory Outlet's decision to locate the company's newest store in the Memphis area.
"This is what outlet shopping is all about quality, name brand merchandise at exceptional values," said Groveman. "Since the store opened, our traffic is up 20 percent over this time last year."
He believes the presence of VF Factory Outlet is a good fit for Belz Factory Outlet World Lakeland. Its presence demonstrates confidence in the potential of the center to attract other brand name outlet stores.
Other outlet storeowners agree that Vanity Fair is a good fit for the shopping center. Latest Craze reported that sales were up 25 percent over July of last year and Perfumania saw a 14 percent increase.
In order to begin attracting new name brand retailers, such as VF Factory Outlet, Belz Factory Outlet World Lakeland underwent extensive renovations a few years ago, including replacing the lighting, floors and walls.
Groveman says that Belz is committed to continuing to bring major destination retailers to the outlet mall and other major retailers are beginning to recognize the benefit of locating outlet stores in Belz Factory Outlet World Lakeland. Another new tenant - BonWorth, a national retailer of misses and petite casual wear opened a store next to Vanity Fair in August.
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