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Local News / Business

Wednesday, 18 November, 2009 10:13 PM

Prime Outlets Birch Run to open at midnight on Black Friday with free gift bag offer

Some stores opening as early as 10 or 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening


Prime Outlets is located at 12240 S Beyer Rd. near I-75 in Birch Run, Mich.

by Jason Rzucidlo


LISTEN: Interview with Phil Whitsel, Marketing Manager of Prime Outlets Birch Run regarding midnight madness

(Listen as a .AIFF file)

BIRCH RUN, Mich. -- For the last four years, Prime Outlets Birch Run has been opening at midnight on the day after Thanksgiving. Stores like Tommy Hilfiger, Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy will be open at 10 p.m. on the day of Thanksgiving. The first 500 shoppers who show up wearing their pajamas will receive a free gift bag from the outlet center. Prices at the stores are expected to be extremely low for Black Friday weekend. A spokesman for the outlet mall is expecting a larger than normal turnout due to Michigan's struggling economy.

"This is our fourth year now in 2009, the first was back in 2006," said Phil Whitsel, Marketing Manager of Prime Outlets Birch Run. "It has been a huge success for us. A lot of people come from all over the area, frankly all over the state of Michigan and western Ontario to get some early shopping in."

Some of the stores at the outlet mall will be open as early as 10 or 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening. Nearby restaurants will also be open for those shoppers who are looking to get an extra head start this year.

"There may be a few but it's not anything that we're promoting," Whitsel said. "We're focused on the fact that it's midnight madness and certainly that's what all of our promotions are revolved around. There are some cases were a small handful of stores may open because they're ready. In most cases, stores will be geared up to open at midnight."

Shoppers can go to and click on "Birch Run" to print off a list of all the Black Friday deals.

"You can download all of the offers that we have going right now," the marketing manager said. "In addition to that, we will be updating that every couple of days until the event. Make sure to go back and check on it from time to time. Find out if your favorite store has been added if they're not already there."

Some of the hottest deals are expected to be at Aeropostale, AK Anne Klein, Banana Republic, Clarks Bostonian, Dickie's, Guess, Jones New York, Wilsons Leather and Van Heusen.

"We just came off of Deer Widows weekend, which is probably our second busiest weekend of the year," Whitsel explained. "Aeropostale, which is a pretty popular store for the younger segment, is going to have 50 percent off the entire store all weekend long. That's probably going to be one of the hottest locations in the shopping center. Banana Republic is another great store, 40 percent off the entire store there. I would expect they are going to be pretty busy."

Dickie's is offering a free $10 gift card to the first 100 customers. Oops! Outlet is offering a free fabric tote bag to the first 50 customers. The first 100 customers at VF outlet will receive a free $5 gift card. DressBarn outlet is giving away a free 3-piece cosmetic bag set with any purchase of $50 or more from midnight to 6 a.m. on Friday.

"Some stores may do door busters where the first so many people through the door get a free gift," the marketing manager said. "Others may do a gift with purchase program. If you make a purchase in the store during a specific time frame, you would receive a free gift on that."

The first 500 shoppers in line at the outlet center information store who are wearing their pajamas and over the age of 16, will receive a free gift bag. It will include special edition Jockey sleepwear and other free items.

"That's because we stuff some of those goodie bags with a surprise gift card from Prime Outlets," Whitsel explained. "Winners must be 16 years of age to be eligible. We actually have a ladies pajama top that is provided by Jockey. It's an exclusive top, you can't find it in any store. There is also going to be a coupon inside the bag for Jockey that you can take and get some slippers to go with it."

Shoppers who would like to take advantage of the free gift bag should arrive at around 10 p.m. or earlier.

"It depends how dedicated you are," the marketing manager said. "Last year, we had people lining up at the event at 7:30 or 8 o'clock. But certainly it doesn't start to get to be a long line until about 10 p.m. or so. You can probably come out after 10 o'clock and still be fine. You never can tell how fast people are going to line up. Certainly weather is going to have an impact on that as well. If it's a little bit colder and we have any of that snow coming through, I imagine it will be a late line."

Michigan's struggling economy is expected to drive more people to visit Prime Outlets Birch Run because of the very low prices at the stores.

"Actually, it puts us at a good position because people are looking for a great value right now," Whitsel explained. "That's exactly what we have. Outlet pricing is already 25 to 65 percent off full retail prices. When you mix in a sale like the sale going on at Aeropostale or Banana Republic, where its 40 or 50 percent off the entire store. It's 40 or 50 percent off outlet prices. The deals are absolutely incredible."

There are two new stores that have opened at Prime Outlets Birch Run within the last year.

"One of them that I would mention is Crocs Footwear," the marketing manager said. "They just actually opened last week and are doing incredibly well. They've got comfortable footwear for men, women and children. Some of the other brands we've had open recently that are continuing to do well include Under Armour factory house, which is still one of the only stores of that kind in this region. It's one of the hottest brands we have right now. Even though they've been open for quite some time, we have Michigan's only Pottery Barn outlet, which continues to be a big draw for us."

Kathy Granis of the National Retail Federation said outlet malls will be very busy over the Black Friday weekend.

"I think as people look for discounts and really good prices this year, an obvious choice is outlets," she said. "They really do have some of the best prices from retailers who don't have the same merchandise in their stores."

Click here to download and print Black Friday weekend deals at Prime Outlets Birch Run. (PDF)



Prime Outlets Birch Run will be the first stop for many shoppers on Black Friday.



Aeropostale is expected to be one of the busiest stores at Prime Outlets Birch Run on Black Friday weekend.




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