This weekend marked the grand opening of Forever 21 clothing stores inside former Gottschalks/Harris' buildings at Riverside Plaza and Hemet Valley Mall. The stores are part of the Los Angeles-based retailer's aggressive growth plans that includes new large-format stores, many of which are currently taking up residence within former Mervyn's and Gottschalks stores.
In excess of 50,000 sq. ft. -- well above the majority of the chain's existing mall stores, most of which are under 10,000 sq. ft. -- these larger stores will include a wide-ranging mix of clothing and accessories for both men, women and youth. More recently, the chain began opening 20,000 sq. ft. stores, including a location at The Shoppes at Chino Hills.
Initially, the Riverside location will take up 90,000 sq. ft. on two levels of the 204,000 sq. ft., 3-story store, which opened in 1957 as Harris'. Future plans call for possible expansion into some of the third floor, likely making it one of the largest stores in the chain. What will eventually become of the unused portions of the building -- including a basement -- remain unknown.
Earlier this year, the chain opened a large-format store in a former Mervyn's store in Victorville. A fourth Inland Southern California store is expected to open later this fall inside a former 3-story, Macy's/Broadway department store at Inland Center mall in San Bernardino. Once fully occupied, it will likely rival the Riverside location in eventual size.
It'll be interesting to watch how these new large-format stores evolve -- and perform -- for the mostly youth-oriented clothing chain. At the very least, the re-using of the former Gottschalks/Harris' (Riverside) and Macy's/Broadway (San Bernardino) have forestalled any potential demolition of the mid-century department store buildings.
- RaincrossSquare.com - (Harris') Gottschalks gone (July 2009) | Riverside Roundup - 03/20/2009 | Battered economy, battered retailers could spell trouble for some local malls (Jan. 2009) | Razed, Rebuilt, Revived (Dec. 2005) | Rebirthing Riverside Plaza (Oct. 2004)
Sources: The Press-Enterprise, Riverside Plaza, City of Riverside