By Harley Nefe
Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock employs close to 300 employees across 20 brands, and during the COVID-19 mandates, the Tanger center remained open for essential businesses; however, many brands opted to close during the time. Even so, Tanger Outlets management center continued to pay employees and allowed employees to keep their benefits, and no employees were laid off or furloughed.
The center management office was open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for administrative work and maintenance, and during that time, Tanger Outlets established protocols for shoppers, employees and retail partners to reduce the risk of exposure at its properties nationwide.
In order to accommodate for COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations, Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock oversaw enhanced cleaning, curbside ordering, outside store line queues, non-touch interactions and safe health best practices.
As North Carolina began a phase re-opening for retail destinations beginning on May 8, “we worked with our retail partners to create a shopping environment that prioritizes the well-being of our valued shoppers, retail partners and employees in accordance with guidance from government and public health officials,” wrote Ronnie Mark, general manager of Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock, in an email.
As shoppers returned, Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock enacted additional protective measures such as encouraging the use of facial masks or other facial covering by all shoppers and other visitors while on site, via signage throughout the property.
For shoppers and visitors that forget their masks, they can visit Shopper Services to get a mask, and hand sanitizer is also available.
In addition, Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock placed social distancing floor decals indicating distances of six feet outside of retailer entrances, within Shopper Services and throughout the center.
Also, most of Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock’s public restrooms are touchless, and signage for social distancing was placed on mirrors, sinks and stalls.
Tanger locations are currently operating on the reduced hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, with the goal to resume regular hours when the time is appropriate, Mark wrote.
Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock also reevaluated its event strategy and adapted it to accommodate social distancing guidelines. For example, Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock provides food trucks separated around the center, where public seating areas and eating areas are reduced and reconfigured to allow for minimum separation of six feet distance between persons.
Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock also continued to host its First Friday Art Walk and Sounds of Summer live music with the same social distancing guidelines in place.
Sounds of Summer is a bi-weekly music series that includes swing, beach, jazz and folk music by local musicians.
First Friday Art Walk is a new local artisan market held the first Friday of the month, and the event features several of the High Country’s local artisans showcasing their unique, handcrafted goods. The event began June 5 and will go until Oct. 2, and it lasts from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. First Friday Art Walk is located in the central courtyard on Shoppes on the Parkway Road and is surrounded by food trucks, ice cream, a fire pit and lawn.
Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock also hosts Concerts in the Courtyard every other Saturday beginning June 6 until Oct. 10 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. The outdoor concert series includes everything from swing and oldies to folk, beach and shag music.
All Tanger events are free and family friendly.