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STORE SPACES

First Look: Lululemon shows its muscle with massive Chicago store

BY Marianne Wilson

Lululemon Athletica has opened its largest, most experiential store to date, a two-level, 20,000-sq.-ft.-plus location in Chicago’s upscale Lincoln Park neighborhood.

In addition to Lululemon’s signature merchandise (and some exclusive items), it includes the company’s first-ever restaurant and three studio spaces. Approximately six to 10 classes will be offered on any given day, at $25 a class.

The first level of the store is dedicated to women’s items, including its new personal care line. The second level features the brand’s men’s assortment along with a meditation studio, yoga studio and high-intensity workout studio. In an unusual twist, studio customers can wear select Lululemon workout items to give the product a try before buying an unworn version of the item. (The worn gear is washed between uses.)

The second level is also home to the restaurant, “Fuel,” which serves up a variety of mostly-healthy beverages, food and snacks, including grab-and-go items. Wine, beer and cocktails are also available.

Customers who want to take advantage of the studio spaces can buy classes in packs of five, 10 or 20 at a slight discount compared to an individual class. There are men’s and women’s locker rooms, complete with changing areas and showers.

At its annual analyst day in April, Lululemon said it now has four different store formats, including its upcoming (and now open) “experiential” store in Chicago. CEO Calvin McDonald said that by 2023, about 10% of Lululemon’s total store fleet will be considered “experiential” like the Chicago store.

“Lululemon is purpose-driven and is positioned well to continue to inspire guests living the sweatlife across multiple experiences,” McDonald said. “We believe we are operating from a position of strength as we invest in creating dynamic experiential moments for our communities to connect and come together.”

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