No longer for sale: the six-fingered glove. Seattle Premium Outlets, a collection of 100 designer and name-brand outlet stores, opens May...

Share story

No longer for sale: the six-fingered glove.

Seattle Premium Outlets, a collection of 100 designer and name-brand outlet stores, opens May 5 at the Tulalip Tribes’ commercial center, Quil Ceda Village.

The 383,000-square-foot center, developed by Simon-owned Chelsea Property Group, will sell only discounted merchandise from high-end retailers, such as Ann Taylor, Brooks Brothers, Movado and Coach.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks

Job fair set

Employers will interview for more than 500 jobs.

Upscale retailers such as Burberry, Calvin Klein, Coach and Ralph Lauren will take applications for sales, management and other jobs.

March 15, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tulalip Indian Reservation gymnasium, 6700 Totem Beach Road, Tulalip

— Shirleen Holt

But the outlet center, built from the ground up, speaks more about the evolution of the industry — once known as the place to buy discounted, irregular goods.

“It was overruns, things that didn’t sell well,” said Paula Rowland, chief marketing officer of Baltimore-based Prime Retail, which runs outlet centers in some 20 states. “That outlet industry — that’s your parent’s industry.”

Outlet centers, which feature stores owned and operated by the manufacturer, is a centuries-old concept.

In the mid- to late 1800s, apparel and shoe mill stores on the Eastern seaboard offered overruns and damaged merchandise to employees, Prime Retail says.

Eventually, these stores were opened to consumers, paving the way for factory-direct stores.

The industry expanded during the 1970s and 1980s, due in part to the energy crisis, falling discretionary income and more awareness of designer labels.

The industry shifted as outlet centers, which generally opened 25 to 40 miles from “civilization,” had communities crop up around them, Rowland said.

Outlet stores became the local mall, moving it into the legitimate ranks of fashion and retail.

As outlet stores became profit centers, some manufacturers began to create a separate, value-conscious line for its outlet stores, while others focused on excess merchandise from previous seasons.

Irregular goods, however, continued to shrink as a percentage of items sold in stores — it represents less than 15 percent of all outlet goods, Prime Retail says.

Seattle-based retail experts Richard Outcalt and Patricia Johnson said they see a further shift: the opening of new outlet malls adjacent to casinos.

“Increasingly, outlet shopping and casino gambling are today’s entertainment for a large segment of our population,” Johnson said.

In Washington, Seattle Premium Outlets will join six other outlet centers.

Michele Rothstein, Chelsea Property Group’s vice president of marketing, says the company expects the new center to draw from a larger radius than a traditional mall and to draw tourists who shop at its outlets in places such as Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas.

“They want the brands; they want the savings; and they want to shop in a nice setting that isn’t a sacrifice,” she said.

Monica Soto Ouchi: 206-515-5632 or