It's Open: Outlets Of Des Moines Welcomes Shoppers By The Thousands

ALTOONA, IA — An eager crowd of shoppers peered in windows and paced outside stores this morning waiting for the magic 10 a.m. opening of the Outlets of Des Moines. At one mall entrance dignitaries gathered for the ceremonial ribbon cutting, while at the other end, hundreds enjoyed a pre-shopping breakfast.

The open-air mall made its official debut after a 16-month construction period that wrapped up as three dozen retailers moved in. On Thursday night those merchants hosted a four-hour charity event that allowed shoppers a sneak peek and most retailers said the night's sales surpassed expectations.

This morning, shoppers were ready to match Thursday's excitement level, armed with coupon books and fliers to take advantage of deals that included free candles, gift cards, tote bags, sandwiches and more.

They waited patiently through a ceremony that included music by the Southeast Polk Marching Band, a Polk County Sheriff's Office color guard, Boy Scout Troop 63 leading the Pledge of Allegiance, and dignitaries from Altoona City Council members to Gov. Kim Reynolds. And finally, the ribbon cutting punctuated with a spray of confetti.

T.J. Just, general manager of the mall, said New England Development, the Massachusetts company that has been operating malls for more than 40 years, was happy to bring new stores to the metro Des Moines area. (For more local news, click here to sign up for real-time news alerts and newsletters from Des Moines Patch, or click here to find your local Iowa Patch. Also, find us on Facebook and, if you have an iPhone, click here to get the free Patch iPhone app.)

Marketing Manager Julie Dawson told Patch this week that nearly 40 stores will be occupied through the end of the year and some of the additional 25 available spaces will be filled in early 2018 with retailers to be announced soon.

Earlier coverage: Store design, retailer list Outlets of Des Moines prepares to welcome first guests

In the meantime, the mall has some temporary tenants using a few empty storefronts. A golf cart business is located in one and another area serves as a "man cave" with leisure seating, a television and a beer vendor for the "reluctant shoppers" who come along.

In a third space, the women's boutique True Style, which has two locations in Iowa, will be open through the end of the year.

And making another space his temporary quarters this weekend is Santa Claus. He'll be getting a jump on finding out who's naughty and nice this year while visiting with children through the weekend. He plans to return to hear more from the kids between Black Friday and Christmas Eve.

Regular mall hours for Outlets of Des Moines, located at 801 Bass Pro Drive in Altoona, will be 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Coupons are available online for all the weekend deals, or visit the mall information desk in the food court area near Teriyaki Boys for a coupon booklet that offers deals that are good through Jan. 31, 2018.

Here's what the mall has planned for the weekend:

Saturday:Big Moe Cason will judge a BBQ cookoff (rib, chicken and sausage categories) beginning at 2 p.m. with awards at 5 p.m.; celebrity guest Carson Kressley ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy") will host a "Makeover Miracle" makeover and fashion show at 3 p.m.; and country music entertainer Jason Brown will perform from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Sunday: Kids Day events from noon to 4 p.m. with face painting, superheroes, princesses and, at 2 and 3 p.m., the family rock band Imagination Movers from Disney Junior programming.

Photos/Melissa Myers, Patch

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