Retail Revival?

The store will occupy the 15,262-square foot space at 833 State St. the site of the bookstore chain, until it closed late last year.

“We think it’s going to be an amazing opening,” Nicole Christie, from H&M’s U.S. marketing department, said. Christie told The Daily Sound the company had been looking for the right location in Santa Barbara.

“It’s such a great area and market,” she said. “The area is gorgeous.”

The new store will be the first in Santa Barbara County. The only other tri-county location is in Ventura’s Pacific View Mall.

Christie said the company, which operates more than 200 U.S. locations, wants to grow by 10-15 percent every year for the next few years. She said another Santa Barbara County location hasn’t been ruled out.

H&M, which stands for Hennes & Mauritz, is an international retailer specializing in men’s and women’s clothes.

Some of the company’s popular items are women’s dresses and skirts starting at $12.95, and men’s T-shirts from $5.95.

The State Street store, unlike H&M’s suburban mall locations, will not feature children’s clothes, Christie said. But the Santa Barbara location will feature a similar selection of men’s and women’s apparel.

Christie said 40 people have been employed at the new store. The company also wants to look for partnering opportunities with local groups and events. Christie said store officials were excited for Santa Barbara’s annual Solstice Festival, which includes a parade on State Street two days after the store opens.

“We believe in supporting the local community, not just by hiring local employees,” she said.

H&M has sponsored local Boys & Girls Clubs, Christie said.

Christie said the June 23 event will showcase the company’s summer collection.
“Openings are always a celebration,” Christie said. “It’s going to have a party atmosphere.”

On opening day, Santa Barbara’s H&M will give the first 250 shoppers in line an H&M T-shirt and an Access to Fashion Pass, valued from $10 to $300.

H&M Group, founded in Sweden in 1947, runs more than 2,200 stores in 40 countries.

Competitors include stores such as Forever 21, which has a Santa Barbara location at 901 State St. Discount clothing retailer Marshall’s is expected to open a location on the corner of State and Canon Perdido streets – across from Forever 21 and H&M – in the former three-story Borders bookstore spot.

“As Marshall’s and H&M prepare to take (Borders’ and Barnes & Noble’s) places, there can be no doubt that clothing is king among brick-and-mortar retailers downtown,” Hayes Commercial Real Estate Broker Kris Roth said in an email to The Daily Sound. “Furthermore, these stores–along with recent arrivals like Crossroads and Heavenly Couture–tend to target a more frugal consumer. Only time will tell how many mid- to low-price point apparel stores downtown Santa Barbara can sustain.”
Earlier this week, Hayes announced Boulder, Colo.-entrepreneur Erica Smith would open Savvy on State, at 911 1/2 State St., Aug. 1. The spot was home to one of the high-end Blue Bee clothing stores.

Roth said he and other area brokers expect the commercial real estate market will heat up soon.

“We predict that local activity will continue to slowly improve through the balance of 2011 and into 2012,” Roth said. “Our current listings are seeing more activity.”

Normal store hours for H&M will be Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 10:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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