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RANDOM NOTES: Teen retailer Hot Topic is moving full speed ahead with its new prototype, with plans to open 15 locations and remodel 60 to 80 existing ones in 2007. Designed by JGA, Southfield, Mich. (in collaboration with June Lester Design, Berkley, Mich.), the format is lighter and brighter than Hot Topic’s previous efforts and features exposed concrete floors, galvanized metal slatwall fixtures and a neutral color palette. The music area has been redone with expanded listening stations and a marquee that announces the latest releases.… Wal-Mart Stores has updated the look of its Neighborhood Market concept (for photos, see Picture This on www.chainstoreage.com). The new design, unveiled in a 39,000-sq.-ft. location in Tulsa, Okla., uses earth-toned colors, natural woods and photography to define departments, creating a store-within-a-store feel. The beauty area has been enhanced, with curved fixtures, wider aisles and “tower” fixtures that display the latest items.… Juicy Couture has opened its third location in Manhattan. The two-level, 7,500-sq.-ft. store features the brand’s complete assortment, including men’s wear, children’s wear and even pet apparel. The lower level is separated into three boutique-like rooms, each with its own cash register and dressing rooms. The children’s area has kid-sized furniture for lounging and lower racks and shelving. Juicy, a division of Liz Claiborne, expects to open about 15 more stores this year.… Guess Inc. expects to open some 30 locations under its new Gby Guess banner this year. The moderately priced brand is geared to fashion-conscious (but not cutting-edge) young shoppers. The store interior will have a modern-retro feel.… The hot Japanese luxury-denim brand Evisu is set to open its first U.S. store, a 3,800-sq.-ft. location in Manhattan’s SoHo area. The two-level space combines Eastern details, including origami on every package and mahogany cabinetry, with Americana accents. Evisu stores are known for their quirky mix of art, local memorabilia and antique taxidermy. A stuffed giraffe will take up residence in the SoHo location. Additional stores are planned for other major U.S. cities.

NEW PROJECTS: South Korea-based retailer Lotte has hired FRCH Design Worldwide, Cincinnati, to design a seven-story, 300,000-sq.-ft. luxury department store in Pusan, South Korea. It is slated to open at the end of 2007.

UPCOMING EVENTS:Lightfair International will take place May 6 -10, at the Jacob K. Javits onvention Center in New York City (for details, visit www.lightfair.com).

CORRECTION:R.sole, featured in the January issue of Chain Store Age, was designed by Tobin + Parnes Design Enterprises, New York City.

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