By Bradi Murphy | Arts & Life Editor
Lit up faces and enthusiastic voices filled up the H&M store at Richland Mall on Thursday. Noon marked the grand opening of H&M, and eager Wacoans lined the front doors, waiting for their turn to see what the new lot in Richland Mall would behold.
Music blared from a DJ table displayed at the front entrance; the energy-endorsing beats could be heard throughout the halls of the mall, not just in the store.
“We try and make [the grand openings] like a celebration,” said Patrick Shaner, the public relation representative for H&M.
The first 100 customers in line were given scratch off coupons with a mystery amount of store credit up to $300. Within only 10 minutes of opening, customers filled the store, hands full of clothes to try on, and employees continually greeted new faces by handing them coupons and a shopping bag.
A big thing at H&M is their sustainability. There are green signs around the store encouraging customers to recycle their old clothing. Customers can always bring in their old clothes of any brand and receive 15 percent off their purchase.
“In the recent years, I have shopped at different locations of H&M because their prices are more reasonable for quality clothing,” Alton junior Jordan Nolan said. “Knowing now that I can give back some of my old clothes just makes me want to continue shopping here. I love that they are giving back not only to the customers but also the environment too.”
H&M is trying to create a circular economy in the global sense, and their main goal is to repurpose clothing as opposed to just using materials to make clothes and then throwing them out.
“95 percent of clothes that are thrown out go to landfills, and all of them could be recycled or repurposed, so it really is something we’re trying to change in people’s mind,” Shaner said. “To realize that and create a better environment in the long run.”
As described on their website, the successful clothing chain first opened in 1947 in Västerås, Sweden, and sold only womens’ clothing. But today, H&M aims to increase the number of stores by 10 to 15 percent per year.
“I think Texas is amazing. In general, it’s one of our most quickly growing markets in the country,” Shaner said. “I love Texas, and everybody here is really friendly and welcoming. They love the brand, and we always find that there is a big turnout when we come here.”
The staff has worked weeks and months beforehand to put together the amazing atmosphere, and it clearly has paid off. This was illustrated by the large traffic flow throughout the store within 30 minutes of opening.
“H&M is a bigger brand store, so when bigger brand stores come to smaller towns, it usually means that the town is growing,” Granite Bay sophomore Robin Vo said. “So as a student, it gives me more options for places to shop.”
H&M offers clothing for an affordable price and foreshadows an increase of expansion in Waco shopping markets. H&M is located in Richland Mall on West Waco Drive and is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.