Big crowd on hand as H&M store opens at Bellis Fair



    Thursday's opening of clothing retailer H&M was just one of the new stores coming to Bellis Fair:

    -- Designer Shoe Warehouse, commonly known DSW, is expected to open in the first quarter of 2015 in the final available space formerly home to a movie theater.

    -- Chipotle and Buffalo Wild Wings also are moving into in that same renovated portion of the mall. Both are expected to open later this year.

    -- Villa Italian Kitchen, known for its pizza, is going into the former Sbarro space in the food court. Villa is expected to open in early August.

    -- A Canadian company called Big Orange is going in near the food court.

BELLINGHAM - Employees at clothing store H&M were dancing, running, high-fiving people and doing the wave while a long line of shoppers waited for the doors to open at the store's grand opening at Bellis Fair mall.

Claudia Braam, 19, showed up at 4 a.m. and was the first of 400 people in the store when doors opened at noon Thursday, June 12. The first 100 shoppers in line got scratch gift cards worth $10 to $300. Braam's reward: $300.

Braam, who lives in Bellingham, said she loves all the high-quality clothes and cheap prices but was most excited for the summer dresses.

"I've never seen a store do anything like this - getting the crowd excited," Braam said, pointing at the DJ playing dance music and staff singing and dancing along.

Mall manager René Morris said it was probably the most extravagant store opening they've had.

"The energy is amazing," she said. "This is almost like the cherry on top of all our renovations."

The 19,000-square-foot store includes sections for men, women and children as well as maternity and plus-size lines. H&M is replacing the space where Beauty Nails, Big 5 Sporting Goods and Lane Bryant used to be. Beauty Nails and Lane Bryant relocated to a different part of the mall, Morris said.

Ferndale residents Brendy Rodriguez, 23, and Lori Rodriguez, 21, were looking forward to all the different sections available. Brendy has two daughters she wants to shop for.

"I like that while I'm doing my shopping, my boyfriend can do his shopping," Lori said.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. In addition to the mall entrance, the store has an outdoor entrance.

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