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[Swedish Invasion]

Notes from the opening of the world’s largest H&M store

H&M has come a long way since opening its first store in Vasteras, Sweden in 1947.
Photo: Mona Shield Payne

The Swedes have hit the Strip, and they’ve brought with them racks and racks of impossibly inexpensive clothing. Fast fashion frontrunner H&M, which replaced FAO Schwarz in a 55,000-square-foot space in the Forum Shops, opened its largest store in the world on Saturday morning. By 1:20 p.m., 2,237 guests had already visited. Actually, they did a lot more than visit; they bought. The wave of H&M shopping bags moving from the mall to the parking garage made that abundantly clear.

I got the number 2,237 from Roy, the H&M security guard manning the main entrance. “We had 200 in line this morning,” Roy told me, “and then it grew to 400. I’ve never seen anything like this.

“Closest thing was Black Friday at the H&M at Town Square. We had 142 people line up at five in the morning. We were the only store at Town Square with a line.”

At 1:25 p.m., I entered the store and walked beneath the golden disco balls, around the white ceramic horses, past the mohawked and faux-hawked salesclerks, up the escalator and to the men’s section.

When I saw a blue-and-white striped shirt going for $5, I approached the rack.

Unfortunately, the only available sizes were small and extra large. And the black, marching-band-uniform-inspired vest I liked? All six of them were size 44 regular.

I resolved to visit the store again, after the clerks had the chance to restock. But before I left, I asked to see Roy’s hand tally counter one more time.

In 20 minutes, the number had grown to 2,534. That works out, roughly, to one shopper every five seconds. Damn, those Swedes are good.


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