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Forever 21 quickly shifts to new Modesto mall digs

While it may be in the company name, it certainly didn't take Forever 21 forever to open its new, bigger store in Vintage Faire Mall.

The popular clothing retailer opens today as an anchor store in Center Court, with a grand opening celebration Saturday.

The Los Angeles- based company's store moved into its new digs four weeks after Gottschalks, the previous tenant, closed its doors for good July 12.

Only the second floor of the three-story space will be open. The first and third floors still are being renovated, said Forever 21 District Manager Sandy Krygier.

The grand opening will include giveaways, a DJ and music, and specials throughout the day, Krygier said. She said openings often attract large crowds.

"We expect there to be quite a to-do," she said. "Every one I've been to has generated a lot of interest."

The lure for the grand opening is the new, larger store and gift cards for the first 400 customers. The cards will range from $10 to $100, with one $210 prize, all handed out at random. Several hundred eco-friendly water bottles will be given to customers who miss out on the gift cards.

People can't camp out or park overnight at the mall but they can start lining up at 6 a.m. Saturday when the doors to the second-floor Cafe Row mall entrance open. The store will open at 10 a.m., when the rest of the mall opens.

As employees readied the store Thursday afternoon, shoppers stopped in front of its glass doors and peered inside.

"People keep knocking on the door and asking, 'Are you open?' " Krygier said.

The move from its 6,500-square- foot mall space to the enormous 154,500-square-foot anchor spot is part of a companywide campaign to expand the brand. This summer, the firm purchased several West Coast Meryvn's and Gottschalks locations.

The trendy retailer is one of a growing number of "fast fashion" stores that specialize in selling cheap, fashionable clothes that copy the latest trends. Most styles sell for less than $40.

The new store will sell women's and men's clothing and carry more of the retailer's exclusive in-house brands. The original store, which closed Thursday night, sold only women's clothing aimed largely at teens and twentysomethings.

The new store will carry the company's signature Forever 21 brand as well as its Twist, Heritage, Love (for thirtysomethings) and Faith (for plus sizes) lines.

Krygrier said the new Forever 21 has some 200 employees. She did not know when the store's other two floors would be finished.

Janice Curtin, Vintage Faire senior manager of marketing, said excitement is building.

"This is definitely what the customers want," she said. "I think we really are seeing the rebirth of the shopping center model. It is something we're excited to be a part of."

Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at mrowland@modbee.com or 578-2284.

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