H&M will host a grand opening celebration at noon, taking over a space left empty for nearly two years by Manassas Cineplex.
The prime space near the center of the mall was looked over by several other potential tenants over the years, but was hard to fill until H&M leased it, according to Alice Jones, mall general manager. Jones said she was hopeful that another theater company would take over the facility, but that failed to materialize.
H&M’s opening comes as the mall prepares to sign leases with several other businesses to fill vacancies within the shopping center, according to Jones. The mall normally has about 120 stores, many of which are boarded up or window dressed with products that can be purchased within the center.
Jones would not specify how many vacancies the mall currently had, or the number of leases expected to be signed in the coming months.
“All of the merchants in the mall are excited about the H&M opening. They will be a major draw to bring in customers into the mall,” said Jones.
At the grand opening of the store, the old saying, “Give ’em the shirt off your back” is being put to the test.
On the day the store officially opens, the first 100 shoppers in line that take off their shirt will receive a free H&M T-shirt so they won’t go home topless, as well as 20 percent off the purchase of any single item at H&M on opening day.
The shirts received from shoppers at the grand opening celebration will be laundered and donated to benefit a Gifts in Kind-affiliated charity in need, the Reston Interfaith Shelter.
The 60-bed shelter offers temporary residence to about 500 individual and families each year and teaches self-sufficiency skills aimed at preparing residents to meet long-term challenges in their lives.
The firm has opened with a total of 54 United States stores primarily in the Northeast region opened since 2000. The new Manassas 16,000-square-foot store will sell fashions for women, teens and children.
H&M opened its first store in Sweden in 1947 and expanded with the first U. S. store on Fifth Avenue in New York City in 2000. The firm now has more than 800 stores in 14 countries and sells more than 600 million garments a year.
H&M has more than 30,000 employees and markets its own brand of clothing with a team of 95 in-house designers.
“The company’s coming will be a shot in the arm to all the stores, including the food court, located in the center” of the mall, said Jones, who has been the general manager at the mall for the past 25 years.
The company has been preparing for its grand opening since January.
Manassas Mall was built around the now defunct Montgomery Ward, opening in 1972 as the area’s prime shopping center. In 1988, the mall was renovated and expanded, losing its dark interior and boasting a bright, modern appearance. The expansion doubled the mall’s size to now nearly one million square feet of retail space. cg/tb
Fountains, skylights and new floors were added and dozens of new stores opened, an unknown number of which have since closed and/or moved to other shopping centers in the area.
The center is owned by Interstate Properties, located in Paramus, N.J. Hecht’s, JCPenny, Target and Sears, which moved into the former Montgomery Wards site last year, are the mall’s anchor stores.
Staff writer Bennie Scarton Jr. can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 125.