Remember the term "Eurotrash" as used in the 80s to denote those conspicuous consumers who'd come to New York and take advantage of incredible exchange rates against the low dollar? They were often seen hanging around Madison Avenue with suitcases loaded with clothes that were (for them) as cheap as a Gap T-shirt.
Today those shoppers come in all countries and they go to the Jersey outlet malls to snag their hauls before flying home to Argentina, China, Russia and other home ports.
The Outlet Collection, Jersey Gardens is the closest of these outlet malls to Newark Airport. So close, in fact that an airport shuttle runs every 30 minutes from Newark Liberty International’s Air Train Station P4 to the mall.
The Outlet Collection, now sporting a $30 million renovation and new shops like Coach and True Religion, was unveiled last week at a ribbon cutting with Jersey celebs like Joe Piscopo (if you're older than 30 you might remember his fab Frank Sinatra on SNL).
The mall's marketing director, Crystal Stell, says that customers at the revamped new space come from 162 countries as well as all 50 states and spend an average of six hours shopping in the mall before take off at Newark. The mall takes advantage of this shop 'n fly dynamic with the shuttle bus from the airport as well as an onsite currency exchange and lots of luggage stores (Samsonite is one). Guests who live more than 40 miles from the mall also get a discount booklet with lots of coupons that whittle the prices even further down.
I spent the day in this space over the weekend watching with bemusement as travelers poured over goods from Nike to Neiman Marcus Last Call, stopping for Aunt Annie's pretzels along the way--you know the ones that smell almost as good as Cinnabons?
The space was clean and huge as an airplane hangar deck and definitely offered better shopping options than Newark Airport's duty free. And with Jersey's clothing tax non-existent and the regular Urban Enterprise zone sales tax (yes, the mall is in one) at a meager 3.5 %, the deals must have been just too hard not to pass up.
I saw travelers hauling more than one suitcase out the door to their shuttle bus.
The most money these folks spent would likely be an extra bag fee--if they were traveling in economy!