Introduction to The Outlets at Orange
Nestled in the heart of Orange, California, The Outlets at Orange has become a top destination for shopping and entertainment.
Since its opening on November 19, 1998, this open-air outlet mall has undergone significant transformations, reflecting the evolving retail and leisure landscape.
Developed initially by The Mills Corporation and now under the ownership of Simon Property Group, The Outlets at Orange presents a rich history intertwined with the growth of Orange County.
The Evolution of The Outlets at Orange
The Early Years as The City Shopping Center (1970-1996)
The Outlets at Orange, initially known as The City Shopping Center, has been a cornerstone of retail in Orange County since its inception in April 1970.
Anchored by J. C. Penney and the San Diego-based Walker Scott, which later became a May Co. branch in 1974, it catered to a diverse clientele.
The mall was part of a larger development featuring amenities like two hotels, several office buildings, two movie theaters, and various dining options, including the locally known Pepperoni Square.
However, the expansion of MainPlace/Santa Ana in 1987, growing from one department store anchor (Bullock’s) to three, marked the beginning of a decline for The City Shopping Center.
This decline culminated in the closure of its major anchors, May Company, in 1991 and JCPenney, in 1995, leading to its eventual demolition in late 1996.
Transition to The Block at Orange (1998-2011)
The transformation into The Block at Orange began when The Mills Corporation purchased the site. Initially considering a conversion to a Mills mall, the decision was made to create an outdoor lifestyle center, a novel concept at the time.
The Block at Orange opened in November 1998, introducing a fresh mix of retail, dining, and entertainment to the area.
This period saw the introduction of new anchors and entertainment options, such as the Ron Jon Surf Shop, which closed in 2008 and was replaced by Neiman Marcus Last Call.
Other notable changes included the closure of Virgin Megastore, Hilo Hattie, and Steve & Barry’s in 2009, paving the way for new entrants like Off Broadway Shoes, H&M, and Guitar Center.
The Block at Orange also witnessed the closure of Borders in 2011, replaced by Sports Authority, which was liquidated in 2016.
The Outlets at Orange (2011 – )
2011, a significant rebranding occurred when The Block at Orange transitioned to The Outlets at Orange, marking a new chapter in its history.
This change was more than just in name; it ushered in a period of expansion, particularly on the mall’s east side. The expansion unfolded in two phases, with the first phase culminating in 2013 with the opening of a new Nordstrom Rack store.
The second phase, completed in 2016, brought notable additions like Gap Factory Store, Polo Ralph Lauren, and, notably, the first Bloomingdale’s Outlet in Orange County.
Although initially planned to introduce 12 new stores, this phase saw only five launches, primarily due to larger space requirements by stores like Bloomingdale’s.
For a considerable time, The Outlets at Orange enjoyed the distinction of being the sole outlet mall in Orange County.
This status was challenged in 2015 with the opening of The Outlets at San Clemente, which is located further but presents significant competition by offering an alternative outlet shopping destination in the region.
Current Anchors and Their Stories
Neiman Marcus Last Call
Neiman Marcus Last Call, which took over the space from Ron Jon Surf Shop in 2008, has become a cornerstone of luxury retail at The Outlets at Orange.
This outlet store is renowned for offering high-end designer merchandise at discounted prices, attracting fashion-forward shoppers looking for premium brands without the steep price tags.
Its presence at the mall underscores the outlet’s commitment to blending luxury with affordability.
Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH
Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH brings a touch of luxury retail to The Outlets at Orange. As an outlet version of the famous Saks Fifth Avenue, this store offers a wide range of high-end designer apparel, accessories, and home goods at reduced prices.
It serves as a destination for shoppers seeking the quality and prestige of Saks brands at more accessible price points.
Nordstrom Rack, a division of the upscale department store Nordstrom, offers a unique shopping experience at The Outlets at Orange.
Specializing in clearance items from Nordstrom stores, Nordstrom Rack allows customers to purchase premium brand products at significantly reduced prices.
This store has become a popular destination for those who appreciate Nordstrom’s quality and style but are looking for more budget-friendly options.
Bloomingdale’s – The Outlet Store
Bloomingdale’s – The Outlet Store is a key feature of The Outlets at Orange, offering a range of high-quality apparel, accessories, and home items.
As an outlet version of the iconic Bloomingdale’s department store, this location provides an upscale shopping experience with a diverse selection of luxury brands at outlet prices, catering to shoppers looking for style and value.
Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse
Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse is a paradise for shoe enthusiasts. This store offers a vast selection of footwear from numerous well-known brands for men, women, and children.
With its focus on variety and value, Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse has become a go-to destination for shoppers seeking affordable-quality shoes.
The Vans transcends the typical store concept, emerging as a prime destination for skateboarding enthusiasts. While primarily a retail space, it offers an extensive collection of Vans footwear and apparel, catering to the lifestyle and preferences of the skate community.
This store has become a popular spot for shopping and a gathering place for those passionate about skateboarding culture, making it a unique addition to the mall’s diverse offerings.
NIKE Factory Store
The NIKE Factory Store is a vital anchor at The Outlets at Orange, offering a wide range of Nike products, including footwear, apparel, and accessories.
Known for its quality and style, this store appeals to athletes and casual shoppers alike, providing high-performance products at discounted prices.
Guitar Center is a haven for musicians and music enthusiasts. This store offers various musical instruments, equipment, and accessories, catering to professional musicians and hobbyists.
With its comprehensive selection and knowledgeable staff, Guitar Center has become a key destination for Orange County’s music community.
Entertainment and Leisure at The Outlets at Orange
Cinematic Experience at AMC Theatres
AMC Theatres at The Outlets at Orange offers a premier movie-going experience. With multiple screens showcasing the latest blockbusters and independent films, AMC has established itself as a top destination for cinephiles.
The state-of-the-art facilities, including advanced audio-visual systems and comfortable seating, ensure an immersive cinematic experience.
Regularly updated with the newest releases, AMC Theatres remains a favorite for families, couples, and film enthusiasts.
Interactive Fun at Dave & Buster’s and Lucky Strike
Dave & Buster’s and Lucky Strike provide unique entertainment options at The Outlets at Orange.
Dave & Buster’s, combining a full-service restaurant with a vast arcade, offers a variety of games and attractions for all ages.
Lucky Strike, an upscale bowling alley and lounge, adds a touch of sophistication to the traditional bowling experience.
These venues are perfect for social gatherings, parties, and corporate events, offering a blend of fun, food, and entertainment.
Special Events and Activities
The Outlets at Orange is not just a shopping and dining destination; it’s a hub for community events and activities.
The mall hosts various events throughout the year, including seasonal festivals, holiday celebrations, and promotional events.
These activities enhance the shopping experience and foster a sense of community among visitors and locals alike.
The mall’s commitment to providing a dynamic and engaging environment makes it a lively and attractive destination beyond retail.
A Diverse Array of Stores at The Outlets at Orange
Fashion and Apparel
The Outlets at Orange boasts an impressive array of fashion and apparel stores, catering to various tastes and budgets.
H&M, a Swedish multinational clothing-retail company known for its fast-fashion clothing, offers trendy and affordable options for men, women, and children.
The Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store provides classic American style with a modern twist, offering premium quality apparel at outlet prices.
Gap Factory Store, part of the globally recognized Gap Inc., brings its signature range of casual wear and essentials, making high-quality fashion accessible to all.
Specialty Stores and Services
Beyond fashion, The Outlets at Orange has a range of specialty stores and services. The Converse Outlet is a haven for sneaker enthusiasts, offering a wide selection of iconic footwear products.
The Columbia Factory Store provides high-quality gear and apparel for those seeking outdoor and sportswear.
Additionally, the mall houses services like The Jewelry Doctor, offering expert jewelry repair and customization, and Style N’ Fix, a go-to spot for cell phone repairs.
A Haven for Beauty and Personal Care
The Outlets at Orange elevates the shopping experience with its exquisite beauty and personal care store selection. Among these, Fragrance Outlet is a premier destination for fragrance enthusiasts.
As one of America’s largest specialty fragrance retailers, it offers an extensive range of perfumes, colognes, and accessories, catering to diverse preferences and styles.
The Cosmetics Company Store provides a luxurious shopping experience with premium skincare, makeup, haircare, and fragrances.
Featuring esteemed brands like Estee Lauder, Clinique, and MAC, it’s a treasure trove for beauty enthusiasts.
These stores, along with Bath & Body Works and Brow Arc, create a comprehensive beauty zone within the mall, offering shoppers high-quality products and services for their personal care and beauty needs.
Dining Options at The Outlets at Orange
Casual Dining and Fast Food
The Outlets at Orange offers a variety of casual dining and fast food options to suit every palate. Johnny Rockets, an American diner-style restaurant, serves classic burgers and shakes in a retro setting.
Panda Express, a fast-food restaurant chain serving American Chinese cuisine, offers quick and tasty meals for shoppers on the go.
These eateries provide convenient and enjoyable dining experiences, perfect for a short lunch break or a relaxed meal after shopping.
For those looking for something unique, The Outlets at Orange features specialty eateries like the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
This store is a paradise for chocolate lovers, offering a wide range of handmade chocolates and confections.
Another specialty option is Suki Hana, which serves delicious Asian-inspired dishes, providing a flavorful dining experience for visitors seeking something different from the usual mall fare.
Fine Dining and Breweries
The mall also caters to those seeking a more upscale dining experience. BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse offers a diverse menu ranging from deep-dish pizzas to craft beers, making it an ideal spot for a leisurely dinner or a gathering with friends.
Such fine dining and brewery options elevate the overall culinary experience at The Outlets at Orange, making it a shopping destination and gastronomic haven.
The Outlets at Orange in Popular Culture
Film and Media Appearances
The Outlets at Orange has made its mark in popular culture, notably in the film “Borat.” This appearance highlighted the mall’s unique architectural style and vibrant atmosphere, showcasing it to a broader audience.
Such media exposure has elevated the mall’s profile, making it a recognizable location beyond the local community.
Social Media Presence and Marketing
In the digital age, The Outlets at Orange maintains a strong presence on social media platforms. The mall engages with a wide audience through regular updates, promotional campaigns, and interactive content, informing them about the latest events, deals, and new store openings.
This digital engagement plays a crucial role in the mall’s marketing strategy, attracting visitors and enhancing the overall brand image.
The Outlets at Orange – A Dynamic Retail and Entertainment Hub
Reflecting on The Outlets at Orange’s Journey
The Outlets at Orange in Orange, California, has evolved significantly since its inception, transforming from a traditional shopping center into a vibrant, multifaceted retail and entertainment destination.
This evolution is a testament to the mall’s ability to adapt to changing market trends and consumer preferences.
The strategic shifts in its development, from The City Shopping Center to The Block at Orange, and finally to its current incarnation, highlight its resilience and forward-thinking approach.
The Mall’s Current Standing and Future Prospects
Today, The Outlets at Orange is a prominent feature in Orange County’s retail landscape. Its diverse mix of stores, ranging from high-end fashion outlets to specialty retailers, along with various dining and entertainment options, caters to a wide audience.
The mall’s success lies in its commercial offerings and role as a community hub, hosting events and activities enriching the local culture.
Looking ahead, The Outlets at Orange is well-positioned to continue its growth and maintain its relevance in an ever-evolving retail environment.
The Broader Impact of The Outlets at Orange
The Outlets at Orange’s impact extends beyond its physical boundaries. Its contribution to the local economy through job creation and business opportunities is significant.
Moreover, its presence in popular culture and active engagement on digital platforms have enhanced its visibility and appeal.
As a destination that combines shopping, dining, and entertainment, The Outlets at Orange serves its visitors’ needs and stands as a symbol of modern retail and leisure, continually adapting to meet the future head-on.