The Mitsui Outlet Park
No more than a few days ago, I had learned about a completely brand new and huge outlet park with a lot of good publicity in the media. The Mitsui Outlet Park, which had recently opened up in the west of Taipei City, is operated by the Japanese Mitsui Group (三井グループ). The outlet is located in the Taipei Metro area, in the Linkou District, a distance of around 40 – 50 minute drive from setting off with a group of friends nearby Taipei 101.
Feeling generally interested to see what such an outlet store would offer, as I had previously visited similar sized outlets in Kyoto, New York and in London. Typically, outlets house many retailers of top brand names with an across-the-board range of products, such items as clothing, sports gear to popular household items. The unique qualities of an outlet, (which puts itself above malls and shopping centers), is that outlets are typically much bigger with many of their top branded retailers offering various discounts from anywhere up to 90% off their products.
We arrived at the Mitsui Outlet Park
It looked magnificent, with many big entrances to the complex, the outlet can be roughly divided into two sections, inside and outside section shopping sections. The inside section is all indoors, which contains a wide array of shops and a large food court area as well as supermarket. The outside section is all outdoors and extends outward from the Center Plaza. Both sections are 2 stories high and converge in a loop nearby the plaza area.
Ummm, not really what I had expected
The Mitsui Outlet Park has fantastic and impressive first impressions. For those that had ever visited the Taipei 101 mall in the Xinyi District, can at least agree on the modernized high-class standards that they both closely share. It had a comfortable and luxurious feel towards the environment and facilities. Throughout the building, it wasn’t as crowded as I had initially anticipated for a new shopping center, despite visiting the outlet within the 2016 Dragon Boat holiday period, too!
As.far.as.any.decent outlet goes, we were met with many top branded retailers from every direction, along with all their high quality products that were subjected to their advertised fantastic outlet-discounts.
Then, we were all hit with much disappointment. We noticed most, if not all, prices weren’t what they seem. It’s an old retail marketing black-hat trick. Jack your prices up to then put them down to whatever discount percentage off the price to give that outlet feel. We noticed that most of the top branded retailers within The Mitsui Outlet Park were doing this, which left their prices to be what you’d expect in any of their high stores in Taipei. As a British man, I know this trick to be an illegal act in the UK. The Sales of goods act state that the prices MUST BE sold at the ‘pre-discounted’ price for at least 6 months before advising customers that it has been reduced to the stated promotional price. This is a law on all goods and services traded in Britain to protect their customers from being tricked into getting a seemly good bargain. However, this is Taiwan.
You can say that our experiences only got worse…
After spending a few hours in the so called outlet, we decided enough was enough of looking around, and get something to eat. Most of my group of friends fancied a burger based meal, so we didn’t eat at the food court. Instead we found a really nice looking restaurant near the entrance, called ‘Kua’aina’, a Hawaiian themed burger & sandwich restaurant.
The waiting outside before going inside and being asked for your order is about 30 minutes. This is nothing out the ordinary when waiting for a table at a restaurant in Taipei. When we finally got in and was given a table, we sat down, ordered and waited with our soft drinks for about a good 15 minutes until the waiter had came to apologies with some bad news. They had run out of burger buns and politely asked us if we’re okay with toasted bread instead.
No, we weren’t happy. I just couldn’t see myself enjoying a meaty burger as I crunch through the toast. It was just an uncomfortable feeling. What made things worse, was the people behind us had buns! Confused and upset about this, they had advised us it was yet another mistake of theirs to make and serve the group behind us before us. It was the insult after injury. We got a full refund (even our half-finished drinks). It was only too late that I had checked the reviews for the burger restaurant, to which most were horrendous. It highlights how important reviews are these days when trying to avoid disappointment from so many seemingly great products and services. Proof truly does come from the pudding. *See their Facebook reviews for yourselves.
After.that.ordeal, we ended up eating at the food court. The food court was actually a rather pleasant experience with many delicious food choices, and was a lot more spacious and less crowded than many of my previous experiences in the Taipei 101 mall and living mall.
On a last but positive observation…
Before we retreated home, the outlet proved to offer one more modern and beneficial feature with the use of their increasingly smart technology. Every car owner, who parks in the outlet car park of The Mitsui Outlet Park, is provide with a small plastic token. Yes, it’s yet another gimmick to encourage you to spend more. This does, however, prove its usefulness and above the norm of unique services to save you money on your overall car park fees. You earn points from any transactions at any retailer or restaurant within the outlet, which get added to your token. You just hand it over to the servicing staff at the checkout to have the earned points added.
So, what are my final thoughts of the Mitsui Outlet Park?
Other than the convenience of having all the branded retailers in one place, there wasn’t much more of a unique value of going to this outlet, which therefore, was more like an unusually large mall than an outlet in my opinion. Would I go again? No, I’d just take the even more convenient option of shopping on the internet to get, more likely, a ‘real’ discounted price from what typical online prices get you these days.
For more information on The Mitsui Outlet Park:
Official Website (English): Mitsui Outlet Park Linkou
Phone Number: +886 2 2606 8666
- Opening hours:
Monday – Thursday: 11:00 am-9:30 pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:00 am-10:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am-9:30 pm
- How to get there:
From Taipei Main Station (台北車站), take bus route 1209 or 1210 to Lilin Elementary School (麗林國小). After alighting, walk two blocks west to the intersection of Wenhua 2nd Road and Zhongxiao 2nd Road.
The Mitsui Group operates a free shuttle bus at 20-30 minute intervals between the outlet and the following locations: MRT Yuanshan, MRT Taipei Bridge, MRT Xinzhuang, MRT Nanshijiao, MRT Xinpu, HSR Taoyuan. The shuttle bus schedule can be found here, (only in Chinese).
Take the Airport MRT to station A9 – Linkou.
Written by Andy Howel
Hey there everyone, I’m a construction engineer in Civil Engineering. I’m currently Stationed in Taiwan by an international company I’m contracted with. Open to meet new people from different backgrounds, of different ethnicity. Please connect to my network, many thanks! Andy H.