By Janet K. Keeler
One thing is for certain when you spend the day shopping at Ellenton Premium Outlets: You won’t be cooling your heels. The experience will be quite the opposite because your feet will get a workout as you hoof it among the 130 stores.
This open-air complex seems more like a small town with lanes chock-full of stores ranging from kitchen shops (Corningware Corelle & More; Kitchen Collection; Le Creuset) to beauty suppliers (Luxury Beauty Store; Perfumania; Cosmetics Company Store) to clothing outlets (Ann Taylor, Calvin Klein, Chico’s).
Ellenton is one of the oldest outlet complexes on Florida’s West Coast but that doesn’t mean it’s stuck in the past. The offerings keep growing and evolving, and there’s a link on each of the stores’ web pages on how to catch an Uber ride to the mall. What a smart idea since so many of the mall’s customers come from surrounding counties and even from the beach communities to the west.
Let’s get back to those feet. Ellenton Premium Outlets might boast the most shoe stores of any mall around with at least 30 stores stocking them. Whether you’re looking for athletic shoes to work out in, sandals for any reason, shoes that mean business or fancy heels for special occasions, there’s a store that will fit.
One thing you might not find is a place to buy ice skates. Ice skates? Why on earth would we need ice skates in Florida? Tucked on the northern edge of the mall is the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex. From Interstate 75, drivers know the igloo-like complex by the massive hockey player sculpture bursting through the wall of the building.
The complex has open-skate times plus lessons with skate rentals. Ice hockey leagues play here and aspiring Olympic figure skaters have been known to train in Ellenton. There are also summer camps for kids. Strike that about no skates for purchase. The ice complex has a pro shop.
What a fun place for the kids to hang while you shop. For shoes. In keeping with the tootsie theme, let’s find some shoes (men, women and children included) so that we can glide comfortably from store to store.
First, the canvas shoes. In the U.S. we are obsessed with shoes for sports but also those that cross over into everyday wear like the skateboard chic styles at Vans. Vans may not have invited the slip-on tennie but it has certainly cornered the market on cool.
For honest-to-goodness athletic shoes, pick from Addias, Asics, Finish Line, Columbia, Converse, Nike, Puma or Reebok. Basketball players, runners, hikers, fitness walkers and even Zumba dancers will score a bargain among the racks.
Children’s outfitters Stride Rite shares a roof with Keds and Sperry, where you will find boat shoes to prevent you from slipping on the wet deck. And also help you maintain your cool. Sizes for adults, too.
Looking for classic American styles in quality leather? Pop into Cole Haan, Bass, Clarks or Naturalizer. Bass is known for its penny loafers and how perfect does this shoe accompany khaki slacks for both men and women. Penny not included, of course. Cole Haan and Clarks are other sources for office-ready shoes, especially for men. Can you say wing tips?
Those in the market for sandals (and in Florida, who isn’t?) will find lots of options at Ellenton. There are casual flip-flops at PacSun and Aerosoles to gladiator flats and deliciously strappy numbers at Charlotte Russe, Johnston & Murphy, Nine West and Rue 21.
The Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth Outlet, Tommy Hilfiger and Steven Madden outlets feature designer shoes at a much-reduced cost from other stores. Madden’s designs for men and women go from a spring training game to a charity ball at a posh hotel. You’ll find the same at Saks.
And then there’s Crocs, in a category all its own. Sometimes maligned for its wide-toe clunky style, the foam resin shoes were initially developed for boaters and unveiled in Fort Lauderdale in 2002. Since then, Crocs have continued to grow in appeal and style.
And if you need a supremely comfortable shoe to walk around 130 outlet stores, this is it.
When you go…
Ellenton Premium Outlets
5461 Factory Shops Blvd.
Ellenton, FL 34222-4100
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