Tracing Tracy Territory: Outlet mall struggles, mulls strategy
by Sam Matthews
Mar 01, 2013 | 9490 views | 23 23 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Owners of Tracy Outlets are trying to come up with a strategy to breathe new life into the center in northeast Tracy.

A glance at the vacant storefronts in the center near the Interstate 205-MacArthur Drive interchange certainly confirms that new retail concepts are needed.

As the pondering of new retail ideas by the parent Northwest Outlets firm continues, another Tracy Outlets store — Tuesday Morning — is holding a final clearance sale and will close soon.

Elaine Yager, who has managed the outlet center for the past 17 years, reported that the number of stores in the center is down to 10, and the loss of Tuesday Morning will reduce it to nine.

Most recently, the Gap Outlet Store, Oshkosh B’Gosh children’s store and Van Heusen men’s and women’s clothing all pulled the plug and moved to new outlet center near Livermore.

That much-larger, higher-end outlet center, which opened recently as Paragon, is now owned by Premium Outlets, the major outlet center firm in Northern California.

No doubt, the new Livermore outlet center has had some impact on the local center, but Tracy Outlets has never tried to go head-to-head with centers with high-end stores and instead has concentrated on mid-level retailers.

Earlier, however, the local center had lost other major stores with well-known names, including Reebok-Rockport, G.H. Bass and Liz Clairborne.

“Our owners realize we need a new strategy for the center, and they’re working at developing one,” Yager said. “They are serious about getting the right kind of stores that will make the center work.”

The owners, Gary Patterson and Rick Cordes, have repainted the center in a five-color range and are considering new signage, she said.

“Besides Tracy, they have four other outlet centers, so some of the new ideas could come from them,” Yager said.

The Walnut Creek-based firm’s other outlet centers are in Anderson (near Redding), in Bend, Ore., in Post Falls, Idaho, and in Pasco, Wash.

The Tracy Outlet Center was opened in November 1994 by McArthur/Glen of McLean, Va., with 35 retailers. Two years ago, it had 21 businesses.

Yager noted that despite the empty storefronts, Tracy Outlets still has some solid retail establishments, including Levi’s, Carter’s children’s wear, Famous Footwear, Lane Bryant, Corning-Revere and Hip-Gen.

“I just hope Tracy residents realize that our center is located in their hometown, and that we really want to provide the kind of shopping they want,” the center manager said. “We’re working hard to find the right niche.”



Graduation time?

As Glenn Moore’s coverage of progress in creating a new football stadium at Tracy High School indicates, the current weather pattern of mostly sunny days is moving the project along at a good clip.

Originally, the construction schedule called for the project to be completed in time to hold Tracy High’s graduation ceremonies at the new Wayne Schneider Stadium at the end of May.

That’s still a hope, but Superintendent Jim Franco of Tracy Unified School District indicated earlier this week that the project may not be completed until sometime in June, and Tracy High graduation would have to be held at West High’s Steve Lopez Stadium.

But, he added, there’s still hope that with good weather, the Tracy High stadium could be ready for graduation day. It’s going to be a photo finish.

• Sam Mathews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at shm@tracypress.com.
Comments
(23)
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lovin'life
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March 05, 2013
West valley bowl, stop being tight wads aready and fix up the place. Every other lane is broken down and you have the nerve to be on groupon and living social every other week. Get a decent restraunt in the place, lighten up the bar, put in some new carpet, get some new shoes and bowling balls and have some damn standards for the place. I can keep going but i'll stop here unless I get a request for more. Born and raised here so these were things we always wished for. Hey City Manager and Mayor, why don't you listen to some of the people who have been here forever and might actually have a few ideas. Thats right... you're not even from here so you don't care. Well hopefully one day someone will care or guess what, we are the next city of stockton.
lovin'life
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March 05, 2013
I rememeber when the outlet "mall" was first constructed. It had the chocolate factory, the Nike Outlet, Sony.... and a huge crowd. Then they started putting in lame stores like Dress Barn, and famous footwear. Nothing wrong with famous footwear except that at the time, as far as shoes are concerned, they already had Reebok, Nike, Shoe Pavillion, and Bass (which sold shoes too). They got too repetative with everything. Cheap stores attract cheap customers that have no intention on spending. Rue 21???? Really? Wear it once and it has a hole in it. Now that cheap store is in the mall. I'm not rolling in dough or anything but I like nice things. Maybe open a Coach outlet, I love Carters as the mom of 3 little ones, Maybe an indoor mini race track, Bring back the chocolate factory where they made goodies in front of you. Stop with the old lady clothing stores, and I don't know who told Maurices that they could charge $60 for a tshirt. Get real. Same for the Mall.... Why does Sears still exist? Big 5 in the mall? That's outlet material. Reorganize and restructure. And for the love of Pete... Can we get a damn skating ring? Old Thrifty's would have been perfect.
MrSycamore
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March 03, 2013
The outlets are in a great location. It's just old! The reason why paragon is doing well is because its brand new! The Tracy outlets can compete if it were new with new stores. People driving by will stop! It would have been a great spot for a bass outlets! People like new! That's the bottom line.
MrSycamore
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March 03, 2013
Oops bass pro shop
Sneaky
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March 02, 2013
The outlet center is just in a bad location. It doesnt matter what stores they put in there. Who the hell would go to such an oddball, out of the way area to shop? They should move it over near the mall.

ChrisRoberts
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March 02, 2013
Blow up the Outlet mall with Tnt.

Replace the site with a half dirt, half concrete.

Build Tracy a much needed skateboard and bmx dirt complex.

The should have been a mall or an outlet mall, not both in Tracy. Rather than have one be vital, we have both which are dying a slow painful death.

The regular mall here in town is pathetic. If not for the Target (I HATE walmart) and the Movie theater tthe mall would have gone under years ago.
Urmomma
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March 02, 2013
I agree the new color scheme is drab and uninviting to the shopper. The same goes for down town. Maybe it's time to bring in the higher end retailers. As a shopper I am sick of having to drive out of town due to the lack of choices in this town!
alecm9311
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March 01, 2013
First of all, the new color scheme for the outlets is AWFUL. They went for the "hip" earth and mission tones without realizing the architecture isn't meant for that kind of color. The forest green towers and roofs clash horribly.

Second, even though the outlet business is growing, Tracy's outlets aren't nice enough, new enough, or popular enough for new businesses to want to locate into. Manteca is turning their empty mall out by Bass Pro Shops into outlets, and so far they've brought in Vans, Banana Republic, and GUESS. So that's two outlets centers on either sides of us that are far newer and nicer, with better anchors and location too. Couple that with the planned expansion Livermore will be going through later this year (almost entirely leased), it seems like our outlet mall is done.
IMHO
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March 01, 2013
Yeah, I have a hard time believing these outlets will see any resurgance. The Livermore Outlets may just be the nail in the coffin for this place. Unless there is some major development in Tracy or something exciting and worthwhile that attracts people to the outlets, you can kiss them goodbye. I'd say get some decent food for a start. People go for an experience. If they just walk around a bunch of empty stores for 30 minutes, they're not going to come back. At least offer a place they can hang out, a place to eat, etc. If I were the outlet owner, I'd open a Chuck E. Cheese type place with video games and kid rides, etc. Make it all free or cheap. Pay for one or two decent places to eat to be open and people might make the trip to make an afternoon of it. Then they may actually stop in a store or two as well to shop. Best of luck.
Sneaky
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March 02, 2013
"People go for an experience"

That is such a wierd, marketers take on shopping. Who knows, it may be right for some folks. I just dont know them. When I go to the store, whether supermarket or mall store, I go to get what I need and leave. For example, if I am at home thinking I need a new pair of jeans, I go to Pennys, buy the jeans and leave. I got what I came for. What would be the point of hanging around? It could only result in my buying something I dont really need.

Food at a mall is not something I purchase. If I want to go out to dinner I dont want to deal with mall crowds, snot nosed teens and the like. I just want a decent stand alone restaraunt.
IMHO
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March 07, 2013
Sneaky, you must not know any women. ;-) I find there are utility shoppers like you and I that get in, find what they want and get out, but there are lots of shoppers that go out for an afternoon at the outlets. They go to the mall because it's fun to walk around and see what's new, see what's on sale, meet their friends, etc. These are the type of people you want to attract and linger in your outlet mall. You yourself said:

"It could only result in my buying something I dont really need."

That's the point isn't it? That's where stores make their money. How many people go to Target, Costco or Walmart for just 2 things and come out with a shopping cart full of stuff $200 later. These stores are masters of getting you to linger and buy stuff you don't need. The outlet mall needs a similar strategy. Get the inital draw, make it fun to be at the outlets and keep them coming back. When I went last, I thought to myself that I'd never take family or friends there. There was no where to grab lunch so even if I wanted to stay longer, I couldn't and the kids were bored to death and wanted to leave. They need to rethink their business model or close down.
C3TJ
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March 01, 2013
Unfortunately, the writing has been on the wall for the outlets for some time. How much will it cost us to change the freeway signs back after the city changes the name to Outlet Blvd or whatever goofy idea they came up with?
ST_Family
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March 01, 2013
Trying to think of something positive about our outlet....nope, can't think of anything.

Location - hidden and hard to get to. Not a retail location per se and surounded by light industry.

Price - price no different than other outlets, higher than online

Selection - very poor

Experience - Several other outlet/malls in area now that are offer more selection, food, entertainment.

Outlet needs to find its purpose, relocate to better more retail, customer friendly area and if you can't compete with prices then offer better experience with food/entertainment.

Good Luck
sb2482
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March 01, 2013
I used to do quite a bit of shopping at the Tracy outlet stores but that was years ago. The reality is, outlets are not that much cheaper than regular retail stores, and with so few choices left there, I do my shopping elsewhere.

I drive by the Paragon outlets every day on the way home from work and the center is dead on weekdays. Hopefully the weekends can sustain it because the weekday consumer traffic won't. It was swamped on its opening weekend but no so much anymore.

I look forward to the day that Tracy has few to no vacant storefronts but I fear that is a long way off. They keep telling us the economy is looking up but so far, in Tracy, I don't see it.
alecm9311
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March 01, 2013
As for weekday traffic at Livermore: it's the same way in Gilroy and Vacaville and all of the other assorted outlet malls out there. Considering their overflow parking in the field opposite the center fills up every Saturday, I'd say they're still doing well. They've also got an expansion coming with construction slated to start later this year. If that's not the final nail in our coffin, I don't know what is.
108MW
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March 01, 2013
How about the ghost town West Valley Mall and that other one where the Sees Candy shop is? There are large vacancies in the old Save Mart shopping center by the ball field on Tracy Blvd. The defunct Chevys as well. On any given corner in this town are evidences of a struggling town inviting all kinds of other problems. Tracy is fast evolving into a mini Stockton.
alecm9311
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March 01, 2013
Our mall is edging dangerously close to the caliber of the depressingly dead Cupertino Square and the now-demolished Sunnyvale Town Center. Lots of no-name cheapo clothing stores and novelty stores people don't care for. 10-year leases will be ending for several major stores soon, and I'm 100% sure that the rest of the big chains will be gone soon too. So much for Macy's "saving" our mall, huh? Two million down the tubes.

The former Chevy's, however... people being hired in at the new Buffalo Wild Wings are claiming that Elephant Bar is coming, so I wouldn't give up hope just let. An Ulta store (major cosmetics superstore) will also be opening next to Petsmart in the Home Depot shopping center. Our future isn't totally shot, even though it's awfully close.

me-here
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March 02, 2013
Save Mart near the ball park has a great location but trying to deal with the owners is impossible. The rent is high to begin with and the tenants get jabbed for extra charges every time the grocery store or parking lots need something. Been there, done that and left. Originally dealt with Spanos who was great to work with. Every owner after that got greedy.

Why are spaces empty... that's a start.
108MW
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March 01, 2013
How about the ghost town West Valley Mall and that other one where the Sees Candy shop is? There are large vacancies in the old Save Mart shopping center by the ball field on Tracy Blvd. The defunct Chevys as well. On any given corner in this town are evidences of a struggling town inviting all kinds of a town evolving into mini Stockton.


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