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CSA Editor’s Pick: Aeropostale’s Times Square Flagship

Aeropostale is betting big on New York City’s Times Square, opening a 19,000-sq.-ft. global flagship -- its largest unit and second street front location to date -- in the heart of the tourist Mecca. It’s estimated that Times Square gets two million visitors on a daily basis.

The two-level store is intended to raise the teen retailer’s profile and serve as a platform for its international expansion. By the end of this year, the chain will have 50 stores in Canada and 10 in Dubai.

“Times Square has become a true shopping destination. We think this store will set the foundation for our global reach,” said Ken Ohashi, investor and media relations, Aeropostale, which operates 901 namesake stores in 49 states and Puerto Rico, and 40 P.S. from Aeropostale kids stores in 12 states.

 With a 120-ft.long, digital billboard (two million pixels) that wraps around the exterior and into and out of the store, the new Aeropostale more than holds its own against such high-wattage neighbors as Forever 21 and American Eagle Outfitters. It has a friendly, engaging feel -- and doesn’t forget the interactive elements that its core teen audience craves. On the second floor, in a 700-sq.-ft. room signed The Balcony, shoppers can dance with virtual Aeropostale models and have their images displayed on the billboard some 20 minutes later. (With windows facing three sides, The Balcony also allows an unparallel view of Times Square below.)

“We wanted to give them time to get outside and be able look up and see themselves,” Ohashi said.

The interior celebrates the store’s New York City locale, using such authentic materials and elements as subway tiles and subway-styled mosaics, in a way that never seems gimmicky or too overtly theme park. The gift cards are branded with Times Square symbols.

“We want to give customers a fun and engaging shopping experience while capturing the essence of New York City,” Ohashi said. “Also, Aeropostale is a New York City-based brand -- we want to celebrate our hometown.”

The second-floor “Denim Library” department was inspired by the New York Public Library, and features antique lighting fixtures, library ladders and book-styled signage. It’s even set off with a fiberglass lion statue modeled on the marble lions that guard the library entrance.

The design of the denim department was inspired by the New York Public Library. The fiberglass lion sculpture is modeled after the marble lions that sit outside the library’s entrance.
Also on the second floor is the “SoHoShop,” which displays a good deal of the store’s exclusive merchandise (15% to 20% of the mix is unique to Times Square). The space is surrounded by a cast-iron facade and, in keeping with the Soho theme, has mahogany wood floors, a pressed tin ceiling and brick walls. A Brooklyn Bridge-etched mirror hangs behind the cashwrap

Aerospostale is using the extra space the store provides to blow out some of its core departments -- the denim selection, for example, is the largest of any store in the chain -- and up-and-coming categories, such as accessories.

“This store reflects our evolution into a teen lifestyle brand,” said Scott Birnbaum, senior VP marketing, Aeropostale. “Over the years, we have integrated more fashion into our assortment, and we are really able to focus on that here because of the added space.”

In keeping with its surroundings neighborhood, the new Aeropostale will keep late hours: it will be open to midnight Monday through Wednesday, and to 1 am Thursday through Sunday. An area on the first floor near the front door will be separated from the rest of the store and remain open two hours after the store closes.

As to the store’s projected volume, Birnbaum said the chain’s mall stores average $635 per square foot.

“This store will do significantly more,” he added.

This is Aeropostale’s third store in New York City. The retailer posted a 3% same-store sales increase in September, and recently opened a 34th Street store. Next month, a Brooklyn unit on Fulton Street will also launch.

Aeropostale is located in a building that formerly housed Bank of America and MTV Studios space. The store was designed by Gha design studios, Montreal.

© 2014