Outlets by any other name

September 09, 2010|By TIM ROWLAND

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I leave town and it's "Prime Outlets." I come back a week later and it's "Premium Outlets." You just can't turn your back on the greater Hagerstown area without some sort of major action taking place.

That's us, a community on the move.

But ...

Prime/Premium? Premium/Prime?

You can't even spell Premium without p-r-i-m-e. So is there really so much of a difference that you need to make a change? Loosely thinking, if I'm going to eat it, I want prime; if I'm going to drive it, I want premium.

I guess there's a difference, kinda sorta. For example, you never say that someone was cut down in the premium of his life.


Fortunately, someone had already suspected that I might be curious about the difference and had -- no lie -- already e-mailed me the dictionary definitions by the time I got back into the office:

Prime -- of the best possible quality; excellent.

Premium -- relating to or denoting a commodity or product of superior quality and therefore a higher price.

First things first. Maybe I'm taking this a little more personally than I should be, but I was a little nonplused that someone had presupposed that something as convoluted but ultimately as meaningless as the prime/premium issue would catch my attention.

I am really not half as shallow as this woman suspects I am, at least I would like to think not. I think deep thoughts sometimes. I have dreams. I -- oh, who am I kidding, I'm just happy that she did the legwork.

So prime is the best possible, we are led to believe, but premium is even better. But how can that be? Outside of the prime/premium world, there can be no better than best.

Are we supposed to accept the notion that the rules against better than best do not apply in the world of shopping physics? I'd like to hear what that antichrist Stephen Hawking has to say about that.

Since he is not available at the moment, I will turn to Michele Rothstein, who is a spokeswoman for the company that purchased the outlet center and performed the name switcheroo:

"We believe it's associated with the highest level of outlet shopping, so now that Hagerstown has the Premium Outlets brand, we hope that will have an immediate positive effect."


Well, that certainly clears that up, doesn't it?

Hey look, I'm not going to knock the outlets. They're like the largest tourist draw in Western Maryland, and I myself shop there whenever buying online would not get the product to me in time.

But I'm a guy. I don't always get shopping nuances. For all I know, women across the Tri-State were on the horn saying, "Hey Jill, did you hear? It's PREMIUM Outlets now."

"Wow, Sally, we better get over there right away."

Knowing the potential impact, the company says it will be "phasing in the new names with temporary signs until a full rebranding can take place."

Yeah, you can't do these things too fast; shoppers might get the bends. But whatever the name, I'm glad they're here. In Hagerstown, it's nice to be known for something besides the latest government study pointing to our nation-leading percentage of leg fat.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via e-mail at"> Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under">, on or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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