North Branch Outlets looking toward community partnerships to bolster business

North Branch Outlets is located off I-35 on the west side of North Branch. Shop owners say business hasn’t been booming recently, and they’re working on community engagement to get people interested in coming to the mall again.  Photo by Derrick Knutson
North Branch Outlets is located off I-35 on the west side of North Branch. Shop owners say business hasn’t been booming recently, and they’re working on community engagement to get people interested in coming to the mall again.
Photo by Derrick Knutson

Along the west side of Interstate 35 in North Branch is an array of businesses, selling clothing, jewelry, home furnishings, shoes and more.

North Branch Outlets, formerly Tanger Outlets, has been in the city since 1992, selling a variety of wares to people in and around the community.

The mall still offers an ample amount of goods, but the owners and employees of the shops in the mall have noticed a trend in recent years: Sales aren’t quite what they used to be.

A less-than-robust economy could be to blame, or perhaps more people are being drawn to nearby big-box stores, the store managers and employees postulated last week.

Those store representatives included Dory Johnson and Julie Becker, of Christopher and Banks; Damon Patrick, of Van Husen; Alyssa Grassmyer, of Maurices; Jaime Schuna, of Rue 21; Michelle Hall, of L’eggs; Pat Anderson, of Gymboree Outlet; and Tawnya Norlander, of Wilson’s Leather Outlet.

Patrick, who has been working at the mall for about 18 years, said there used to be more community engagement surrounding the mall, like when Chisago County Relay for Life was held at the site and when Midsummer Days had its classic car show in the mall’s parking lot. He and others who work at stores in the mall hope that by engaging the community once again, it might spark more shopping at the mall.

Ideas were tossed around among store representatives last week about how to do just that.

Grassmyer said Maurices just concluded a clothing drive that was “super successful.”

The other store owners chimed in that it would be a good idea to do something similar at multiple stores in the mall and possibly offer customers discounts on their goods if they brought in gently used items to donate.

The same idea was brought up about a mall-wide food drive or possibly a couple of weeks when stores at the mall would collect school supplies and donate them to local school districts.

Johnson said it might be interesting to partner with the North Branch Area High School music program to host musical events at the mall.

“There were these North Branch kids singing out by the flowers outside one day,” Johnson said of her inspiration for the idea. “There were like three or four of them. It was really cool.”

Becker added that the mall currently has some special events customers might not even be aware of, one of which is the sidewalk sale coming up over the Memorial Day weekend. Discounted items — weather permitting — will be showcased outside of many of the businesses.

The stores are also allowed to offer these type of sales the last weekend of every month.

By engaging the community through different activities — whether it is food or clothing drives, concerts or other activities, North Branch Outlets is hoping to drum up interest in the mall again.

“Basically, as storekeepers, we need to figure out how we’re going to reach out and draw more business,” Johnson said.

For more information about the mall, visit






  • NB citizen

    The mall cannot compete with other outlets like Albertville and the new one in Eagan. It looks old, the parking lot is full of potholes and while there are good stores, it needs more to bring people in from the northern suburbs and beyond. The mall needs a paint job, updated landscaping and more stores to compete. There is room to expand in the parking lot between Nike and the theater. Without this people will not drive here to shop.

  • Jessica Butler

    We have been told again and again that the mall is not closing yet more and more key stores are “deciding not to renew their lease” I think as a community and current retail worker at the mall we deserve to know what’s going on in our community and if the mall is closing to give its current residents and their employees time to adjust to finding a new job. Oshkosh is now leaving they were given two weeks. Lots of employees are now out of jobs or taking pay cuts. They have been doing good at their store and beating LY sales I don’t know why they would up and decide not to renew their lease unless something else was going on. I know North Branch is not doing well financially and the mall closing would only make things harder as its really one of the main things NB has to offer and without less people would move here and only make the town in even more financial problems. But what about the workers at the mall? Is it fair to keep it from the employees who have families that rely on their pay checks? To give them 2 weeks to get out? And possibly be able to transfer to a different store. We the community deserve to know what’s really going on with the mall. I’ve heard rumors of a sheriff sale…. I’d like to know where I stand as an employee at the mall. Will I get told my store is closing in two weeks and have to find a new job? My family deserves better than that. I deserve better than that and the community deserves more than that.