Black Friday shoppers at Tanger Outlets should be able to make their way off the hill and onto the next shopping conquest more quickly this year.
Hoping to avoid an almost three-hour wait in leaving the outlets experienced last year after opening at midnight Thursday, a new traffic plan has been developed that will get shoppers to their destinations at the outlets and then back to their vehicles with minimal delay. This year, the outlets will open at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night.
“We were looking at ways to make it more convenient for shoppers and make it easier to park,” said Jodi Dague, general manager of the South Strabane Township outlet center. “This has become an event for many people. We have multigenerational groups with moms, grandmothers, aunts and teenage daughters as well as groups of friends who make it an event each year.”
“Some shoppers even rent hotel rooms,” she added. “When they are done shopping, they will go back to the rooms and wrap gifts.”
When the lots at Tanger are filled, drivers will be directed to The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, where additional parking has been made available for shoppers.
“Last year, there was a wait of 2 hours and 45 minutes to get out of Tanger,” said township police Officer Carmine Molinaro. “There is only one way in and one way out of there. We had people parking on the driveway coming up the hill. That won’t be allowed this year.”
“We had about 37,000 vehicles,” he added. “There is room for 2,200 vehicles in the lot. People were parked everywhere, on the grass, wherever they could find a spot. We are trying to avoid a free-for-all.”
There will be handicapped parking available at Tanger and the main lot at The Meadows, but not in an optional overflow parking area.
Molinaro said four South Strabane officers and four North Strabane Township officers will be directing traffic at the outlets and at various intersections on Racetrack Road. South Strabane will be on duty from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., while North Strabane will be on duty until 4 a.m. North Strabane firefighters will staff their station at the casino to assist in any emergency. An ambulance crew also will be stationed at the outlets.
“When the lot is almost full, we will be shutting the hill down and directing traffic to the casino lot off Johnson Road,” Molinaro said. “We will do that as quickly as we can.”
Sign boards also will be up on Racetrack to alert drivers. The state Department of Transportation also will use the sign on Interstate 79 to alert drivers to possible traffic delays.
Dague said outlet security will be using stadium-style parking and direct drivers to available open spaces.
Parking also will be designated for employees, who are also encouraged to carpool or use the shuttle.
Four shuttles will operate from the casino from 9 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday. Dague said The Meadows is also offering some special promotions for shoppers before the official start of Black Friday. Tanger also will offer 20 percent off coupons for some stores from 10 p.m. Thursday to 3 a.m. Friday and 30 percent off coupons good from 3 to 6 a.m. Friday.
“We are just trying to get people in and out as smoothly as possible without any incidents,” Molinaro said. “We are planning for the worst and hoping for the best.”
In addition to police at Tanger, two South Strabane officers will be on duty inside Target at Strabane Square and Walmart at Trinity Point.
“We just want people to have an enjoyable time shopping,” Molinaro said. “We ask shoppers to be patient and not do anything stupid. It will all work out.”