Waterloo Premium Outlet Center is located about halfway between Rochester and Syracuse, NY off Thruway exit 42. With over 100 stores, it’s a destination shopping center that attracts American and Canadian visitors. Even though I had driven by it dozens of times in the past, I finally made my first trip there this year.
The first thing that surprised me about Waterloo Premium Outlet Center was that it’s not a mall. Even though it doesn’t even say “mall” in its name, I thought it was a mall. Instead, it’s a plaza with all the stores opening directly to the outside. The second thing that surprised me is that they’re not all outlet stores. What that means is that some of them are regular- not discount- stores. The third thing, which shouldn’t have really been a surprise, is that there are far too many stores to “do” in one day.
Parking at Waterloo Premium Outlet Center
Parking is free. The stores are set up in a large rectangle with a huge parking lot in the middle. We went on Columbus Day weekend, which is also Canadian Thanksgiving, so the parking lot was pretty full. Full enough where I’d recommend that if you go during the holiday shopping season, you should get there before the stores open to make sure you can get a spot.
Another thing about the parking lot is: it is wild. My girlfriends and I commented a few times that they need traffic lights or crossing guards. If you have small children, be sure to keep them in a stroller or hold their hands in the parking lot. (For real. We saw a couple scary situations.)
Food at Waterloo Premium Outlet Centers
There’s not a whole lot in the way of food. For fast food there’s Arby’s, Burger King, Subway, Villa Pizza, and a hot dog stand. If you want a sit-down cafe/bistro type restaurant, the only choice is Sun Garden Grille. (The prices are reasonable at $8.95 for a wrap and $3.95 for a bowl of soup. The food is forgettable- probably around a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1-10.) A Chinese restaurant and an ice cream shop are closed due to fire.
Restrooms at Waterloo Premium Outlet Center
There are four public restrooms. The restrooms are clean, well-stocked, and strategically located, with one on each side of the rectangle. The one opposite the food court has vending machines (snacks and drinks) in the hallway.
Where the Deals ARE at Waterloo Premium Outlet Center
The Totes/Isotoner store had a huge selection at bargain prices. Men’s Totes slippers started at $9.99 and women’s Isotoner gloves (leather and sherpa lined) were $9.99. My girlfriend picked up a large Totes brand tote bag for $10, and we still haven’t heard the end of how much she loves it!
The Yankee Candle Outlet was like a dream come true. I got 10 votives (normally $1.99 each) for $5. The catch? They were pre-bagged and all summer scents (it was fall), but who cares? I love a deal, and 75% off makes me giddy. (PS- Two of my favorite scents were included in that bag.) I also bought two 14 oz. candles on a 2/$12 deal. The catch? All the candles on that table were mislabeled. (Now that’s some fun outlet shopping!) Since the 14 oz. candles are normally $24.99 each, for $6 a piece I can totally deal with the wrong label.
Banana Republic had most of their stock at 20-60% off the ticketed price. For the most part, jewelry and accessories were in the 20-25% off range, pants were 40% off, sweaters were 40-50% off, and an extremely limited selection of off-season clothing was at a 50-60% discount.
Where the Deals AREN’T at Waterloo Premium Outlet Center
We went to Journey’s, Carter’s, Zumiez, Old Navy, and Aeropostale; all of which I’ve been to at our local mall. I didn’t find any great bargains at any of these stores. In fact, I know I’ve found far better bargains at Old Navy and Aeropostale at our local mall. For example, Aeropostale often sells tee-shirts for $6 at the mall, but the lowest price they had on tee-shirts at Waterloo Premium Outlet Center was $9.
Do You Think It’s a Deal?
We went to the Coach Outlet store where I saw a bag for $79 that I had seen on the Coach Outlet website for $79. (Yup, you read that right- same price. But they hand out 20% off coupons at the door of the store.) I’ve read that Coach manufactures items specifically for sale at their outlet stores. These items are sold at a lower price point and are not available at the regular Coach Stores. In other words, it’s Coach for the bargain hunter. I’m not a “fashionista”, so that doesn’t bother me- to me, it’s still a real Coach for a bargain price.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is a teeny-weeny little store with the best chocolate ever! A half-pound of chocolate covered pretzels is $3.90 and, to me, worth every cent. Sure, you can buy less expensive chocolate just about everywhere else, but this stuff is to die for! It’s a great place to get a gift for the chocolate lover on your list, and while you’re there, grab a chocolate-covered marshmallow on a stick for yourself!
Waterloo Premium Outlet Center Location and Hours:
Waterloo Premium Outlet Center is located at 655 State Route 318, Waterloo, NY. Hours: Mar-Dec: M-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 10am-6pm; Jan-Feb: Sun-Thurs 10 am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10 am-9pm. Call for seasonal and special holiday hours: 315.539.1100.
For a complete list of stores, visit http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=9