Forever 21 opened its new Mall of America superstore today, a day ahead of schedule. It moves the fast fashion retailer from specialty store to mini-department store, which is becoming the industry trend. As brands like Zara, Top Shop, and Uniqlo (none of which have yet made their way to Minnesota) grow in popularity, so, too, does the size of their stores. At 80,000 square feet, this Forever 21 is second in size only to the traditional mall anchors. It is also the first MOA store to utilize lower level space, with new mall escalators and a large overhead chandelier in the middle of the Southeast court, where Bloomingdale's once stood. I bumped into the MOA leasing execs while I was there this morning, but they still aren't talking about what will fill the rest of the court—about 150,000 square feet.
Meanwhile, the new Forever 21 is divided into departments, much like a traditional department store, and includes men's, kids, plus sizes, shoes, accessories, and lingerie, along with various divisions of women's fashion—some basic, some bedazzled, all extremely well priced. It's amazing how much better the merchandise looks in this sparkling new space. Coming soon to Forever 21: a coffee bar. The official opening is still scheduled for 8 a.m. tomorrow. The first 400 shoppers to Forever 21 at Mall of America will receive a gift card valued at anywhere from $10 to $210. Do be aware of the less-than-liberal return policy: 21 days, and for store credit only.