Gallery: Shoppes at SandsSisters Trisha Webster and Rita Slivka were some of the first shoppers lined up at 10 o'clock this morning to check out the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem's new outlet mall.
Webster, of Doylestown, Pa., jokingly asked Sands Bethlehem President Robert DeSalvio if that qualified them for a special coupon.
Slivka, of Bethlehem, said they visit the casino once every two weeks and she imagines the outlet mall will become a regular stop. They first dashed downstairs to the Old Farmer's Almanac General Store to check out its wares.
Both said they'd never heard of the store before but were pleasantly surprised with what they found. Slivka was the first customer not affiliated with Sands to make a purchase, and Webster had already decided to return for some flatware.
Six stores -- DKNY, Hartmann Luggage, Lenox, Old Farmer's Almanac General Store, Nine West and Talbots -- opened for business this morning as part of the outlet mall's soft opening. Later this month, Guess, Ultra Diamonds and Spritz Designer Fragrances are set to open.
"We are very pleased to be opening the outlets," DeSalvio said. "It is one of the last of the components that we originally promised."It was important to Sands to present to the Lehigh Valley the integrated entertainment destination that Las Vegas Sands is known for, he said. The final part of the promised first phase will finish this spring with the completion of the events center, DeSalvio said.
"We know shopping is high on their list," DeSalvio said of resort visitors.Lehigh Valley shoppers no longer have to go north, east, south and west in search of outlet malls, he said. DeSalvio said he could not reveal any of the other stores.
Shoppers don’t have to go through the casino to get into the mall -- there are entrances in the hotel lobby and a separate outside entrance.
Old Farmer’s Almanac General Store owner Howard Katcher opened his first store Sept. 25 in Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
“We learned very quickly the casino environment brings a lot of traffic and our customers,” Katcher said.The store offers an assortment of baking and cooking supplies, jams and butters along with decorative home items and books. His store’s wares appeal to older customers as well as younger shoppers, Katcher said.
Given the transient nature of its customer base, Katcher tries to select unique products, like his apple butters, that turn one-time visitors into repeat customers.
Katcher’s hired 22 workers so far and expects to add more employees as business ramps up.
The mall is open from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Katcher’s Mohegan Sun store stays open until 1 a.m. over the weekends, and if there’s demand at Sands, Katcher said he’d meet it.
“If people are around, we’ll stay open,” he said.