Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gainseville Shows Culture in Mall Opening

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gainseville Shows Culture in Mall Opening

Article excerpt

GAINESVILLE, Texas _ It was just another shopping center grand opening, this time on the banks of the Red River.

That is, it was just another opening, with: Gov. Ann Richards. Live farm animals. Giant cannons spewing fountains of confetti. And a spirited rendition of "Waltz Across Texas" on tuba.

There is nothing unusual about a Texas town opening a factory outlet mall, but there was plenty unusual about Gainesville's opening this past weekend of the Gainesville Factory Shops.

Start with Thursday's private " `Out of Africa' Safari" party, where townfolk donned pith helmets and khakis and partied among fake palm trees to a steel-drum-and-marimba band.

"This has brought culture to Cooke County," proclaimed local restaurant owner Davis Finney. "Sophistication."

For Gainesville, "culture" arrived with a 67-store "outlet village," on Int. Hwy. 35 an hour's minivan drive north of Dallas-Fort Worth and just across the state line from Oklahoma.

"I don't have to go to Dallas anymore," shopper Bonnie Kinney, 45, of Gainesville said with a sigh of relief Friday morning, after the Factory Shops opened with a spectacle that could pass for a Super Bowl halftime show.

"I'm just shocked that this is in Gainesville," Kinney said, grinning.

"Here, Denny's is the biggest restaurant in town."

Using tax cuts and loans as bait, the city landed the $21 million mall. The Shops are owned by the Baltimore-based Prime Group, developer of a similar mall in south Texas, the San Marcos Factory Shops.

With the sun on her face and her back to the border, Richards snipped yellow tape yesterday and called the mall "another good excuse to leave Oklahoma."

"Now _ I'm desperately in need of a whole bunch of new stockings!" she said as the Gainesville High School Band, still catching its breath from "Texas, Our Texas," broke into the Notre Dame-Gainesville Leopards fight song. …

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