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Sep. 21, 2019 | Saturday
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Great NOTL Summer Walkabout: Back to school shopping at the outlet mall
Elaine and Holly Barclay from England are visiting family in Toronto and made a stop in Niagara for some shopping and sightseeing. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

Welcome to the latest episode of the Great NOTL Summer Walkabout, a summer-long series of stories that will take you to all corners of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Our reporters will trek around the community to meet residents and visitors, attend events, visit area landmarks and tell stories about what they find. Enjoy the Walkabout.

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A new school year looms less than a week away but it was business as usual at the Outlet Collection at Glendale on Tuesday afternoon as families like the Fergusons squeezed in a back-to-school shopping excursion.

Adam Ferguson from Oshawa said the family was in town for their daughter’s seventh birthday. They stopped at the mall for some quick school shopping, though mostly they ended up with stuffed animals and toys, he said.

School uniforms make back-to-school shopping trips quite a bit easier, Michelle Ferguson said, so they spent the afternoon doing some relaxed browsing before heading back to their hotel for the night.

She said the family made the trip down to Niagara in July for one night and decided to extend the stay a bit for Olivia’s seventh birthday. The youngest, Lily, will be starting school for the first time this September.

“It’s nice to make it out for a quick trip before school starts back up,” Ferguson said.

Hurried locals and relaxed tourists visited the mall for shopping and a typical afternoon outing, and an interactive marketing campaign brought shoppers together for games and a chance to win instant prizes. The interactive Game On area will be onsite until Sept. 8.

Leo Lapico from Windsor sat by the games with sons Gian and Enzo, while they waited for family to finish shopping. Lapico said they didn’t come to Niagara for the mall, but it was nice to get some of the shopping out of the way. He said they didn’t try any of the games, but they managed to buy some school shoes with relative ease, which is often a struggle, he added.

As first-time visitors to the outlets at Glendale, Lapico said it’s quite a bit nicer than the Lundy’s Lane outlet mall he visited the last time he made the trip.

“This is a grander scale, it’s nice, it’s quaint, and I like the activities,” he said.

Though many shoppers hailed from across Ontario, some made it from as far away as England. Elaine and Holly Barclay are visiting family from Toronto, who brought them down to do some sightseeing in Niagara. The family took a quick shopping break at the Outlet Collection before planning to see Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Historic District in the morning, Barclay said.

Barclay said while she was excited for school to begin, she wasn’t as excited for the vacation to end, especially considering she said she’d have to find a way to bring all of her shopping spoils home. She said she’s spent so much time shopping she won't have enough room to bring everything home on the plane.

The Roos family from Hamilton said they make the drive down to the outlet mall whenever they have a lot of shopping to do because “it’s easier to get to than the Milton one,” Jeff Roos said.

“Back to school. Mostly a change of season. Christmas, when big things are coming up. We would either do this one or the Milton one, but lately it’s been up this way because it’s straight down the QEW,” he said.

Tourists and visitors were happy and eager to offer some insight into their shopping trip on Tuesday.

Many locals, however, were speeding through the mall to secure their back-to-school necessities before September hits and routine strikes back up.

Unable to stop several families for more than a quick word about where they were from before continuing the mad dash to the next store, the shopping vibe definitely varied at the mall on Tuesday depending on whether they were vacationing or simply running errands.

A few retail workers said they didn’t see much difference in traffic coming through their doors. Though one employee of a youth clothing store said he’s worked at the mall for three years and nothing much has changed in the amount of shopper traffic.

“It’s pretty consistent all the time,” he said.

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