A blue sky and crisp November temperatures greeted Augusta residents who turned out Thursday morning for the grand opening of Augusta Mall's Promenade.
A winding line of a few hundred people stretched the length of the sidewalk and into the parking lot as they waited for doors to open at 10 a.m. to the stores at the mall's new outdoor shopping center.
Shoppers, mostly women, wove in and out of The Walking Company, Coldwater Creek, Banana Republic, Williams-Sonoma, White House-Black Market, Ann Taylor LOFT, J. Jill and other shops -- most of the stores selling higher-end women's clothing.
Some people came with their sights set on specific stores.
For Betty Snead, it was Ann Taylor and Williams-Sonoma, while Coldwater Creek and Chico's drew Mary McCarthy.
Still others just wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
"(I'm) just seeing all the new stores," Debra Filiatreau said.
Michelle Broady and friend Lena Jones also just wanted to peruse.
"It looks great," Ms. Jones said.
The friends agreed that Augusta was ready for the new shops because finding them elsewhere meant trips to Columbia or Atlanta.
Ms. McCarthy, of Aiken, said she has traditionally gone to Columbia to shop. Now, she said, she'll be able to do most of it much closer to home.
"It's a breath of fresh air," she said.
"We really needed to add to the mall," Ms. Snead said. "I think it was dying."
She was among the first 250 shoppers and received a goody bag filled with coupons and store discounts.
For Carol Gunter, the opening of the Promenade shops is a welcome opportunity to combine shopping with a little exercise.
"It's nice to get out in the fresh air and walk around," she said.
Ms. McCarthy said there's no question she'll be back.
"It's a wonderful addition to Augusta; it's much needed," she said.