LUMBERTON — Rue21 is boasting more than a newly-expanded store in its Biggs Park Mall location — the local store also has bragging rights to top sales volume for more than 1,200 stores nationwide during its reopening weekend, which began June 30.
Store manager Jeff Horne said plans for the store expansion began about a year ago, spurred by the sales volume and lack of competition in the Lumberton area. Actual construction began two months ago, but Rue21 kept its doors open for business as it expanded into two adjacent spaces.
“We were open the whole time, until the last of it.” Horne said. “We were closed for four days.”
Chelsea Biggs Sullivan, Biggs Park Mall manager, said the drop ceiling in Rue21 was removed from the space and an industrial look was adopted.
Customers’ reactions to the new look and size have been very positive, Horne said.
“They love the way it looks — it’s more ‘shoppable’, there’s more room for everyone to be able to move around,” he said.
The expansion also accommodated the addition of items that local shoppers could previously only find online. Since the introduction of plus-sized styles by the company two years ago, a lot of people have been asking for them to be offered at the Lumberton location.
“We expanded to carry the plus-size clothing, and that was huge.” Horne said. “It’s a big deal.”
Keeping with the theme that bigger is better, Horne pointed out that the “guy’s department” has tripled in size.
Rue21 staff had no time to rest on their laurels. They are already stocking shelves for the July 28 kick-off for the back-to-school season, and are looking forward to the new fall lines that will be released soon.
“There’s a lot going on,” Horne said.
Sullivan anticipates a big turnout for back-t0-school shopping, noting that there is already an increase in traffic flow at the mall.
“We’re hoping a lot of the UNCP students will want to come over and do some back-to-school shopping,” she said.
The two stores that had been located next to the pre-renovation Rue21 — Basix and Cowboys and Angels have moved to new locations within the mall.
The completion of Rue21’s expansion brings Biggs Mall to 100 percent occupancy. While Sullivan is excited that the mall is full, she said growth won’t stop there.
“It seems that all of our stores seem to be satisfied with their sales,” she said. “Hopefully, that will give us more opportunity to get more kiosks here in the mall. That’s where we can expand next.”
Reach Juanita Lagrone at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.