Outlet Collection of Niagara – A Great Change for Niagara Residents

With each and every trip into St. Catharines, Nat and I slowly watched the construction of the new Outlet Mall in Niagara-on-the-Lake with great anticipation. We literally watched (over time) as these massive open-air buildings were erected steel beam by steel beam. The curiosity was killing the “shopper” in me and I knew I would have to take a walk-about as soon as it was done. That time finally arrived this past Thursday, when Nat suggested we should go for a look see now that the first curiosity seekers had dissipated. I was excited to say the least and we both were not disappointed.

We meandered to the outskirts of St. Catharines where the Mall was located, right after lunch, and found a pretty good parking spot within minutes. I had already copied a list of the stores and where they were located from the Outlet Collections of Niagara’s web site. I had also circled which stores Nat and I wanted to check out first. We had no trouble finding where we had to go and were really pleased with the selections available for men. Nat has such a limited choice of where he can go (for a reasonable price) in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls and as a result he hates shopping for shirts, shorts, pants, etc. Even though we’re both retired, we both like to “casually” dress up whenever visiting family and friends, and even shopping sometimes depending on where we’re going.

The selection for Nat was wonderful and he agreed he would certainly shop at this Mall as opposed to the Pen Centre where you can walk for miles and not find a decent Mens store for guys Nat’s age, except for the usual same-old, same-old – Sears, which is becoming outdated, even in Nat’s opinion. My hubby is stepping up his fashion sense and appreciates a bit more quality. Old fashioned as it may sound Nat still enjoys a nice pair of slacks paired with a crisp co-ordinated shirt and a pair of good loafers for a decent and reasonable price. The Van Heusen, Haggar, IZOD and Rockport stores were all stores Nat said he would revisit. The selections were great, the styles and colours much more modern and up-dated and the prices were right on!! The one store he liked advised they had a small tailor shop in back if he wanted any shorts or pants hemmed!! Great idea, great service!! He knew he loved the Van Heusen and IZOD stores from our winter holidays in Destin, Florida where we would go to the Silver Sands Outlet Mall on a regular basis. Now there’s a great Outlet Mall!!!!

With no intentions of buying anything this trip, we continued to wander in and out of air-conditioned stores browsing around and checking out the merchandise. We both pretty much knew which stores to miss – not our thing, not our style or just of no interest. I, naturally, had to check out the Think Kitchen store and, again, no disappointment there. Different brands than what Nat and I were use to in Florida, but no complaints on inventory and selection. It goes without saying, too, that despite the fact we were not going to buy anything, I had to!! I found a great pair of flip flops from the SoftMoc outlet store and was pleased as punch at how great they felt on my feet – supportive, yet ever so comfy for a pair of flips flops – which I wear every day of the year indoors and on warm weather days outdoors.

With purchase in hand and after looking around as much as we could, we then meandered over to The Eatery where you could find a great selection of food joints, including a Deli-Meat shop, with plenty of seating areas inside and out. I had to check out The Frosted Cupcake as I’ve never been to any of their other stores in St. Catharines or Niagara-on-the-Lake village. I bought 6 Vanilla cupcakes with pink buttercream frosting but at a somewhat more expensive price than I anticipated – $15.00!! The sweet tooth had gotten the better of me on this occasion.

All in all, Nat and I were really impressed with the layout of the entire place, walked bare foot on the soft green turf installed in small areas, and walked in and out of large shaded or sunny areas while browsing through some very modern and more up-dated shops from what we’ve been use to in the St. Catharines and Niagara Falls areas. You have choices – you have huge varieties – you have fresh air and sunshine or shade whenever you want – you have plenty of benches for resting your weary bones or just to sit and watch the world go by (literally). There were plenty of tourists from all parts of this earth and you could walk past quite a few people and listen to a different language being spoken as they walked down the shaded strips carrying their shopping bags full of bargains and other goodies.

Nat and I also found the organization of the store locations well laid out. It seemed most of the shoe stores were in one area, while the clothing shops were in an adjoining area and mixed in-between were a few selective stores for a bit of variety. Variety is the buzz word here – lots of it and in modern shops with huge selection and (at least in the shops we visited) great “outlet” prices. No more need for Nat and I to drive over that busy Canada-US bridge to visit the land down-under (USA) unless it’s for something we definitely can’t get in our neck of the woods – e.g. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Apple, Pottery Barn.

We may not have seen the whole shebang, but we certainly have plenty of reasons to go back again, and again, and again. We both agreed that we would probably do most of our personal shopping there with one or two exceptions.

So, after a slow and breezy walk-about we headed back home in time to put a gorgeous piece of trout on the BBQ. After a great afternoon and a great meal we settled in for the night – NOW, what are we going to watch on television – it’s that same-old, same-old scenario again!!!

By way of a P.S. to those cupcakes: I have to admit I have a great sister who could bake a much moister cake with a creamier buttercream. I realize The Frosted Cupcake is only a kiosk and not stocked with cakes fresh from the oven, but I did find the cake portion drier than I’ve had in the past and a bit smaller in size for the price I paid. I think I’ll stick with my sister’s whenever I can get my hands on one!!

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