BATESVILLE – Who’s stopping to shop at the Factory Stores at Batesville? Just about everybody who knows about it.
“We stay so busy, it’s hard to keep up with everybody coming and going,” said Ellen Smith, mall manager.
Since opening Factory Stores of Mississippi in June 1995, the 135,000-square-foot outlet mall, located less than an hour south of the Tennessee line, has been a welcome oasis for shoppers as the only outlet center located directly off Interstate 55.
“In addition to people in the area who know about us, we have a lot of travelers, especially from Jackson to Memphis and back, who plan an extra hour or two to stop by,” Smith said.
Every day, 67,000 vehicles travel the intersection of I-55 and Mississippi 6, where the Factory Stores at Batesville is located, for an annual total of 24.4 million automobiles.
“Our high visibility and accessibility to the area’s sights and activities have a great impact on the center’s marketing and public relations decisions,” said Smith.
Every month, 52,000 people stop to shop in the location where nearly 1.2 million people live within a 45-minute drive of the center, and more than 10,000 hotel rooms house travelers in the same radius.
With a primary market that includes all north Mississippi counties, Memphis and Arkansas, the outlet mall’s secondary markets encompass central Mississippi counties, Louisiana, Missouri and Tennessee, and its tertiary markets include south Mississippi counties and Alabama.
“We’ve been booming,” said Nell King, assistant manager of Bass Outlet Store, one of 31 stores located at the outlet mall. “We get in shipments every Thursday, and have to have new merchandise out at a certain time. As soon as we get it out, it’s gone. In addition to travelers who drop by, we have regulars who check in often, not only to check out new merchandise, but to see what our weekly specials are.”
On the day information was gathered for this story, Bass Outlet Store featured men’s, women’s and children’s shoes for $2.99 and the store was swamped.
“Shoes are our biggest sellers,” said King, between breaks of ringing up customers. “Since school started back, we’ve been busier than ever, and the store ordinarily stays steadily busy.”
Leston Cowart, a manager for American Outpost, said the only time traffic was slower was during the dog days of summer. “Fewer people were getting out of their air-conditioned homes and cars when it was so hot,” Cowart said.
Other stores at the outlet mall include Book Warehouse, Bugle Boy, Claire’s Boutique, Duck Head, Florsheim Shoes Outlet, Holliday’s Fashions, Kidz World, Paper Factory, Sports World, Sussie’s of Mississippi, Van Heusen, Vitamin World and Welcome Home.
“We’re in the process of expanding and signing contracts with a couple of other tenants and a restaurant, which we cannot name at the moment,” Smith said.
The outlet mall originally opened as an L-shaped section, and recently opened the north end leg, creating a U-shaped shopping center. Part of the north end is used for job fairs for the stores and the local community, warehouse sales and special events on weekends. Antique shows are scheduled on four consecutive weekends beginning Nov. 18. A theater may be added later on, she said.
“This center is part of DHW Properties, which includes the Cracker Barrel next to us, hotels along the corridor in this area, and a housing development called Lakewood Villages behind us that has exclusive homes,” she said. “We’re part of this bigger entity, so the outparcels of the property that surrounds us belongs to them. That’s where we’ll expand. We’re looking to add restaurants in that area.”
Promotions fuel local traffic, such as three shopping spree weekends, “Dear Season,” “Summer Blast,” and “Wear Green, Get Green,” and other annual events.
On a regular basis, the factory outlet stores donate merchandise to charitable organizations such as the Hope Ministries in Senatobia and the Panola County Food Pantry, with Simmons World of Sleep recently donating 43 mattresses to the needy, Smith said.
Recently, the name and logo was changed from Factory Stores of Mississippi to Factory Stores at Batesville to better reflect its identity and location and lend ease to advertising, Smith said.
“We are working on our web site and should have it finished in the next four to six months and we will have links to all our stores,” she said.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at email@example.com or (601) 853-3967.