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Photographing the Waynesboro Outlet Village before it all comes down…

January 12, 2006, 6:38 PM

Today, I went to see the Waynesboro Outlet Village for what will likely be the last time. The January 6 issue of the Staunton News Leader ran an article discussing how the Outlet Village will be demolished this summer to make way for a new shopping center.

Let me tell you… the Outlet Village is a “dead mall”. When we first moved to this area in 1992, the Waynesboro Outlet Village was alive and full of stores, and most of them were factory outlet stores. Then in the mid-1990s, something changed (I think a management change is what did it), and stores started to leave the Outlet Village, leaving the place in its current form. As of my visit today, there are five stores in operation. Let me name them: Liz Claiborne (which was having a going-out-of-business sale), Paper Factory, Tile Visions, Virginia Metalcrafters, and the Artisans Center of Virginia. All of these stores are isolated from each other in the Outlet Village as far as location goes.

Then there are also a number of non-traditional tenants, as there’s a nonprofit computer refurbishing service in one location, as well as One Child at a Time, aka OCAT, in another building. In other words, a few spots are filled up with offices. This is nothing new – I was hired by Borg-Warner Staffing for CFW Information Services (later Telegate) at the Outlet Village. Borg-Warner had offices in 7F. Borg-Warner, like the rest of them, is now gone from that location, having presumably folded up shop there when Telegate closed their Waynesboro call center in April 2002.

If I’m going to point to a reason for the Outlet Village’s ultimate failure, I’m going to view it from a customer perspective, as the Outlet Village was not a place I liked to go. Here’s why. Parking was way out on the periphery, and all customer access to stores was on the inside of the complex. There were no stores facing the outside of the complex. Thus a customer had to walk from the parking lot across the access/circulator road, and then past a row of stores before actually reaching a storefront. I also had problems with the facility’s circular design. To get from point A on one side to point B on the other side, you had to walk all the way around the circle. One could not cut across the center, as this area was closed to customers as a service area. And carrying a load of purchases made it all the more bothersome to walk all the way around.

Let me illustrate for you what I mean:

Waynesboro Outlet Village from satellite imagery  Waynesboro Outlet Village from satellite imagery with color overlays
(Original image shamelessly lifted from Microsoft Terraserver, and marked up by me)

The left image shows the satellite photo from 2000 of the Outlet Village straight from Terraserver, with a little more contrast to help distinguish things. The right side image contains my markup on the first image to show what’s what. The red markings are the stores themselves. The yellow markings indicate pedestrian walkways into, out of, and through the complex. This path reflects a later modification made to the path, as a section was barricaded off and the path was rerouted along the other side of one of the buildings. The large blue patches are parking lots. And then the purple markings show the path of the access/circulator road around the complex, as well as accesses to Shenandoah Village Drive, which is visible as the white line to the far right, but it also curves around the north side of the complex as well. Shenandoah Village Drive is the only road to access the Outlet Village, by the way. Then the center area is the service area off limits to customers. Still, do you see what I mean about the design?

In addition to the design flaws described above, the Outlet Village contained NO large anchor store tenants whatsoever by design. There was no JCPenney Outlet. No Saks “Off 5th” outlet. Nothing along those lines at all. In addition, there wasn’t really much in the way of places to eat. There was a Fannie Farmer store, which served ice cream, and then there was some cheap, non-descript eatery that served greasy food in the big two-story building in the front. The former was good, but the latter – yuck. All in all, if you wanted a half-decent meal, you had to go out of the complex entirely and go across I-64, where the nearest fast-food restaurant was a Wendy’s, and the nearest sit-down restaurant was a Shoney’s.

So all in all, I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did. According to the owner of Tile Visions, who’s a regular customer at Wal-Mart, despite the lack of tenants and customer traffic, the Outlet Village is still beautifully maintained.

This summer, it will all be gone, to be replaced by a new outdoor shopping center of a more traditional design to open in 2007.

And what was I doing there today? I was out with the Big Mavica capturing this dead mall for posterity. Look for a Photography set on this before too long…

Web site: Deadmalls.com, with information on a lot of dead shopping facilities

Song: The Hanukkah Song by Adam Sandler

Quote: I just have to say it will be sad to see it go, but overall, I don't think I'll really miss the Waynesboro Outlet Village. I'm just glad I got the opportunity to photograph it before it went to retail heaven...

Categories: Outlet Village, Waynesboro