Cheryl Shops...Tanger Outlets
"It's the thrill of the hunt!" You know, the jingle for the Tanger Outlet Center ad, the one that's on NY1 every morning and gets stuck in your head for the rest of the afternoon. Anyway, last weekend MW dragged me to a chess team barbecue on Long Island, then to his reading at a North Fork vineyard (which, okay, was actually fun, and not just because I got free wine at 11 o'clock in the morning), and my reward was that on Sunday afternoon, I got to go to the Tanger Outlets in Riverhead. I use the term "reward" loosely, however, because while shopping the outlets wasn't exactly painful, it wasn't the best experience either. In other words, there's a reason Tanger Outlets has to advertise.

Granted, few outlet malls can compare to Woodbury Commons, and while Woodbury and Tanger have several stores in common--Off 5th and the Barneys New York outlet among them--shopping at each is a completely different experience. If Woodbury is a chauffeured Town Car, Tanger is a used Toyota. First of all, Tanger's layout is cumbersome and hard to navigate--there is "Tanger I" and "Tanger II," neither of which is a perfect circle, and you're better off driving from one section to the other (I'm guessing "Tanger II" was an expansion, but it could've been better-designed). Woodbury, on the other hand, is much more conducive to pedestrian traffic, and if you keep walking in circles, you eventually hit all of the stores. There's also the issue of the merchandise; when I go to an outlet, I expect overstocked merchandise from the actual store, but a lot of the stores at Tanger had lower-priced, lower-quality merchandise manufactured specifically for the outlet. This is a pet peeve of mine--I'm going to an outlet because I want the real stuff for cheap, not because I want a crappier version of the real stuff for not-so-cheap. Granted, Woodbury can suffer from this malady at times, but to a much lesser degree. Finally--and I don't know how to say this without sounding like a huge snob, but--the clientele is a bit less upscale at Tanger, which is probably due to the fact that the stores aren't as nice (no Prada or Chanel here!). There are a lot of teen-oriented stores like Claire's and American Eagle, and I was called "ma'am" a bit more than I would've liked. There's nothing like feeling old when you shop.

So, is Tanger worth the trip? If you're out in the Hamptons, no--shopping in East Hampton is much better (and, yes, much pricier). If you're in the North Fork and it's raining and you're sick of going to vineyards, then, okay, maybe. But I'm going to stick with Woodbury Commons as my outlet mall of choice. Which reminds me, I'm due for a trip there soon...

5 comments

Anonymous said...

Having gone to both Woodbury and Tanger over the extended July 4th weekend, I could not disagree with you more! Woodbury, although undoubtedly larger and more upscale, was picked over and packed to the gills, especially with hordes of Asian tourists. The selection was very limited, sizes were limited and the prices were not too great. And unless you have a retreat in New Paltz, Woodbury is located smack dab in the middle of Nowheresville. Needless to say, things were so picked over that I only spent a few dollars at the American Apparel outlet and the L'Occitane outlet.

On the other hand, Tanger is perfectly situated as a slight detour on the way home from the Hamptons. It's smaller but the crowds are also smaller. And the merchandise is less picked over. And comparing apples to apples, the same store at Tanger is better stocked, bigger and less crowded, even if the prices are about the same. Woodbury has a modest Williams and Sonoma outlet with just a few icky Pottery Barn things thrown in here and there. Tanger has the granddaddy W&S, Pottery Barn and West Elm outlets all rolled up into one ginormous monolith. Woodbury's W&S no longer carries bedding and bath items, whereas Tanger carries extensive inventory of West Elm and Pottery Barn furnishings... and the prices are incredible. It is a destination in and of itself.

dianabobar said...

I loved Outlets when I was in Maryland! Spent so much money there...

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