If you thought a second Houston H&M opening in the same month was too much, the more than 700 people waiting in line at Willowbrook Mall Thursday will tell you otherwise. The lines were long, the music was loud and the racks were loaded with the opening day deals one comes to expect from H&M.
The Willowbrook store is noticeably larger than the Baybrook location, with expanded selections and lots of space. Despite the Survivor shopping mode most people were in, you could still move and even find corners to plop down in to survey your stash, as I saw three women do. The new store is bright and spacious with full size runs for men, women and children, lots of dressing rooms and a method to speed up checkout.
“Doesn’t this make you want to shop?” H&M's Nicole Christie said while surveying the jostling masses. “It makes me want to shop. I love it.”
As soon as a rack was looking sparse, it was immediately replenished and the items were gobbled up again. It’s a scene Nicole Christie, H&M’s communications manager can’t get enough of, no matter how many times she sees it.
“Doesn’t this make you want to shop?” she said while surveying the jostling masses. “It makes me want to shop. I love it.”
During the opening, Christie was in charge, answering employee questions and talking with reporters, but you could tell shoppers were doing a double-take, trying to place her face. After being on Fashion Star as the H&M featured buyer, she is enjoying a bit of celebrity herself.
“I’m from New York where everything is six degrees of separation, but now people come up to me and say, 'I know you from Fashion Star.' It’s still a little strange, but it was such an amazing experience and for me to get to talk about H&M, something I love, it was a dream opportunity.”
Christie confirms a second season is a possibility, and if approached, seems to be interested to represent H&M again.
As for opening either in the Galleria or downtown (and I think Christie just threw "downtown" out there in a very general sense), hope for retail kismet, because until an absolutely ideal location is available, H&M won’t open another, closer store, she said.
“People are willing to drive, but we also know the potential of an inner loop store. We would rather be patient and do it right.”
“Right now we have untapped potential and great momentum in Houston and our stores span a large geographical area that we get to reach people we may not have reached before,” Christie says. “People are willing to drive, but we also know the potential of an inner loop store. We would rather be patient and do it right.”
Here’s something to consider when thinking of potential spots. Both Houston locations are easily accessible from a parking lot, close to the food court and a wing anchored by a major department store. Foot traffic is crucial, but so is the ability to just pop by without actually going in the mall. With that criteria, it’s understandable why the old Borders location in the Galleria was a no-go.
But at least now Houston can finally say it has not one, but two H&M stores, with more to come.