Friday, June 25, 2010

Forever 21 lights up Times Square

Forever 21 opened its new 91,257,-sq.-ft., four-level flagship store in Manhattan’s Time Square on Friday with much fanfare and hundreds of fans lined up around the corner to get in. I went to see what the fuss was all about.

Tourists walked by the scene and repeatedly asked what in the world could be going on, many scratching their heads why a store opening would attract such a large crowd. This wasn't just any store opening though -- Forever 21's Times Square debut becomes the largest single-brand apparel store in Manhattan.

One cranky guy passed by the outside and said his first impression was that the store was nothing special, calling it "The Gap on a Bad Day." But once you got deep within the store it became evident that something indeed special had been created.

The store – which occupies the former space of Virgin Megastore -- boasts a clean, sleek look and features a yellow taxicab and other icons of New York City throughout the space. It also houses all the company's brands in store-within-a-store departments.

Other features include a Stud Room, whose walls are covered with 3,000 gold studs (the area features studded-apparel) and the kids’ department, which has a wood tree house. There are also 150 fitting rooms for shoppers to try on styles.

The doors opened at 10 a.m., but many shoppers took their place in line many hours before. The location’s regular hours will be from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., allowing tourists to shop the store into the late hours of the night.

When shoppers finally entered the store on Friday, dozens of employees yelled, clapped and welcomed each person as though they were a celebrity. The star-treatment continued on each of the four floors when shoppers stepped off of the escalator.

To celebrate the launch, Forever21 featured a live DJ, a free manicure booth and gave shoppers an exclusive Forever21 Times Square location tote bag.

Unlike the guy who didn't even give the store a chance, those that did wait in line were not disappointed. One shopper called the store "hot" and unlike any other Forever21 she'd seen before.

What I liked most about being one of the first people to enter the store was that the floors were relatively empty and it was easy, relaxing and fun to navigate through the racks. That will surely change though.

With the location's first-year sales projections to surpass $100 million, it won't be long before you have to fight your way through the store along with everyone else.

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