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Forever 21 hits the big time


Fast-fashion retailer Forever 21 on Friday opened its 91,257,-sq.-ft., four-level flagship store in Manhattan’s Time Square amid much fanfare and hundreds of fans lined up around the corner to get in. Its opening makes it the largest single-brand apparel store in Manhattan.

The doors opened at 10 a.m., but many shoppers took their place in line many hours before. The store’s regular hours will be from 8 a.m. to 2 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.

The store -- which occupies part of the space formerly occupied Virgin Megastore -- boasts a clean, sleek look and features a yellow taxicab and other icons of Manhattan 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, complete with tree house and glass jars filled everything from marbles to gumballs. Lingerie is displayed in a feminine setting, enhanced with lavender walls, crystal chandeliers and cabbage rose-wallpaper. There are some 150 fitting rooms.

Sales projections for the flagship’s first year are expected to surpass $100 million.

With nearly 500 stores, Forever 21 still has plenty of room for expansion in the United States, where it sees the potential for some 1,000 locations. The chain also is thinking globally, and has opened stores in Japan and China. It will enter Europe by yearend, with locations in the United Kingdom (in Framingham) and Dublin.

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