North Georgia's newest outlet mall is open for business, but if you're thinking of going to The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta, you'll have a lot of traffic to deal with.
Officials were hoping to draw tens of thousands of people this weekend, but they may have already surpassed those numbers Thursday morning.
Despite the name, The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta isn't actually in the city limits. In fact, it's a solid half-hour north of Atlanta, along Interstate 575 in Woodstock. Still, for many people, this becomes by far the most convenient choice for outlet shopping in the metro area.
"The fact that there's something closer than the other outlets that are either in Calhoun or Dawsonville is really good," said one shopper.
However, with all of those people coming in from other areas, it did not take long for traffic to become a real issue. Within one hour of the grand opening, traffic was backed up on I-575 coming north.
After 14 months of build-up, and construction, and job fairs to hire new employees, the buzz around the new outlet mall has apparently paid off.
The crowd was there, and getting bigger, even before the ribbon was cut.
People like James McDermond and Elizabeth Plaut got to the outlet mall a half-hour early and beat the rush. They were impressed when they got inside.
"I had no idea there were these little inside areas. It's huge," said Plaut.
For those that didn't beat the rush, traffic was a nightmare.
Woodstock Police Chief Calvin Moss said they will have at least a dozen officers out all day, trying to help keep shoppers moving.
"We're working closely with mall management, and have for months, really, in preparation for the grand opening," said Moss.
In addition to the outlet mall parking lots, four overflow lots are being used.
There are 99 retailers at the outlet mall, adding about 1,200 jobs to the local economy and thousands of cars to the local traffic pattern.
The developers did not have any trouble finding retailers to move in - 97 percent of the shops were leased or committed before the grand opening.
Do you want a chance to shop for free? Enter to win a $250 gift card to be used at ANY store in The Outlet Shoppes of Atlanta.
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