Swedish clothing retailer H&M opened Thursday at Vancouver Mall.
By 10 a.m., about 50 people had lined up in front of the store, said Chris Yates, marketing director for the mall. The first 100 people in line before the doors opened at noon got vouchers worth between $10 and $300 to be spent on opening day.
Kali Kavan of Portland was one of those people and had $200 to spend. Despite a full shopping bag, she said she was having a difficult time finding $200 worth of clothing to take home. Kavan, a former H&M employee, got to the store around 8 a.m., making her one of the first people in line.
H&M fills the ground floor of a space that used to be occupied by upscale department store Nordstrom, which closed at the beginning of 2015.
About 20 employees were hired for the Vancouver Mall store, the city’s first H&M. In addition to carrying men and women’s clothing, H&M also carries children’s clothing.
Battle Ground resident Katie Schoolcraft was shopping for baby clothing and fall clothing with her two sons. She had items hanging off her stroller while waiting in the checkout line that snaked through the store.
“I was happy to see this one was opening finally,” said Schoolcraft, who added that she has shopped at the Portland-area locations. “At H&M, you can always get the basics at a really good price.”
Hockinson High School students Hannah Runde, Emma Ginter and Anna Carson agreed that H&M is an affordable option for new clothing.
“We’ve waited forever (for this store to open),” Runde said.
“It’s cheap but modern (clothing and accessories). You can get really nice clothes for $20 or less,” said Ginter, who was holding a $9.99 blouse.
Donate, recycle old clothes
Many customers lugged bags of used clothing that they planned to donate through H&M’s recycling program. People can drop off clothing of any brand at H&M and get a voucher for 15 percent off a purchase. On opening day, it also meant customers had a chance to win a gift card.
The multinational retailer has been growing its presence in the Pacific Northwest.
The Seattle area’s first H&M store opened in 2008 at Westfield Southcenter. Portland got its first store in 2010 at Pioneer Place mall, not far from Pioneer Courthouse Square.
There are now two stores in downtown Portland, one in Tigard, Ore., another at Clackamas Town Center in Happy Valley, Ore., and one at The Streets of Tanasbourne in Hillsboro, Ore.
Local customers who visited the Vancouver store on Thursday said they were happy that they didn’t have to make the commute to Portland to shop at H&M. Several shoppers came from cities north of Clark County, including Kalama and Cathlamet.
The next closest location to Clark County along Washington’s Interstate 5 corridor is Tacoma.
With H&M’s Vancouver store opening, all of Vancouver Mall’s anchor spaces are full again.
When the California-based retailer Mervyn’s closed at the beginning of 2007, the space didn’t have permanent tenants until Cinetopia opened its movie theater in 2012. Nordstrom’s closure a few years later caused another major vacancy.
In March, Gold’s Gym opened on the second floor of the former department store space.
H&M started in Sweden in 1947. Today, there are 435 stores in the U.S. and thousands more worldwide.