Fans Flock to Forever 21posted on July 21, 2014
Samantha Hand of Brandon and Allison Thurman of Madison claimed the first places in line when the state’s first Forever 21 outlet opened at the Outlets of Mississippi in Pearl on Saturday.
“We got here at 1:54 a.m.,” said Thurman, a sophomore at Hinds Community College.
“It’s my 20th birthday today,” said Hand, explaining her motivation for the retail adventure, “and I like the clothes at Forever 21.”
About 700 shoppers — mainly female, mostly under age 21 and some accompanied by those who might think of themselves as “forever 21″ — were on hand when the Forever 21 outlet opened at 9:48 a.m., 12 minutes earlier than expected.
The outlet store is a sister to Mississippi’s only full-price Forever 21 store, located in Hattiesburg.
Before the doors were unlocked, Tim Sarrett, assistant chief of the Pearl Police Department, provided direction.
“When these doors open, don’t go in a panic,” he said to the line of shoppers that wound through the center. “You’re going to get in.”
While shoppers filed into the store, 11 members of the Pearl High School Pirates Dance Crew entertained those waiting with their routine to upbeat tunes such as “Happy,” recorded by Pharrell Williams.
Shannon Waddell of Clinton, her daughter and a friend of her daughter welcomed the long-awaited addition to the center.
“Every time we travel, we hit up a Forever 21,” Waddell said. “It’s got the latest trends and is a good value.”
Clothing for women and men, shoes for women, lingerie, jewelry, gifts and cosmetics fill the 15,000-square Forever 21 outlet. The store employs 110 people, said Angela Shepard, marketing director at the center.
Prices are astounding: a basic camisole costs $1.80; a V-neck T-shirt, $3.80; skinny jeans, $7.80; and sunglasses, $5.80.
Chelsea Watts of Clinton, who will be a freshman at Jackson State University, said she spent $105 for a pair of shoes, a dress, three shirts, a skirt, a pair of jeans and a pair of sunglasses.
Coinciding with the store’s opening was the first day for Outback Bar-B-Q in the food court. James Gilmore, owner of the family business, took time to introduce himself to shoppers.
“We left here at 2 a.m. on Saturday, and they were already camping out,” he said.
Forever 21 is a success story for South Korean immigrants Do Won Chang and his wife, Jin Sook Chang, who founded the retail chain in 1984 with one store, Fashion 21, in Los Angeles. The chain now operates more than 480 stores under the Forever 21, XXI Forever, For Love 21, Heritage 1981, Reference and its latest, F21 Red, banners.