CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Thousands of shoppers swarmed the new Charlotte Premium Outlet mall after its grand opening Thursday morning in southwest Charlotte.
Governor Pat McCrory kicked off the opening during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9:30 a.m. -- and lauded the 900 jobs the mall has already created.
So many people showed up ready to shop Thursday that crews had to let cars into the overflow lots before the outlets even opened.
People started lining up at around 8:30 a.m. and those lines have only grown.
The Charlotte Premium Outlets is the first mall that's been built in Charlotte since 2005. The outlets’ Chief Operating Officer projected that they'll bring in $140 million in the next year.
From Chopper 9 Skyzoom, thousands of cars could be seen as shoppers tried to make their way to the mall.
Shoppers Channel 9 spoke with said they came to the new outlets on a mission.
“Today my game is to shop. Game on shop, game on shop,” said Karin Schundlemire.
“Adrenaline and the rush and getting to get back on the football field really,” said Ira Guinn.
Channel 9 also spoke with some frustrated shoppers just trying to get inside the outlets.
About 2,500 parking spaces filled up by 10:30 a.m. -- and that included the overflow lots. One parking lot attendant told Channel 9 that the lots filled up much faster than they expected. People were left circling for spaces, trying to get in where they could.
Many outlet mall employees and some customers were using the shuttle bus system to get from those overflow lots to the mall.
Earlier Thursday morning, traffic along the main roads -- Highway 160 and Shopton Road -- was not too bad getting in. But around noon, there were long back-ups on both sides of the mall.
The shoppers Channel 9 spoke with Thursday morning said it was all worth it and that they wanted to be at the mall for the adventure.
There has also been a heavy police presence around the outlets since around 6 a.m. but no trouble has been reported.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said they are letting people in when they spot enough empty spaces -- more than 50 -- then blocking them off again.
The outlets will be open until 10 p.m. Thursday and employees said they expect Friday and Saturday to be even busier.
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