By  on May 20, 2008

Under Armour Inc. opened its second retail door last week in Aurora, Ill., as the active brand hits a half-year of testing the direct-to-consumer concept.

After bowing its first 3,750-square-foot unit in November in the Westfield Mall in Annapolis, Md. (near its Baltimore headquarters), Under Armour opened a 6,000-square-foot shop in Fox Valley Mall in the Chicago suburb of Aurora to see how different weather and a slightly larger store would affect retail sales, according to Chris Hufnagel, Under Armour senior retail director.

"Under Armour retail this year is all about tests, to really understand how Under Armour works in different climates, cities, store sizes," said Hufnagel. "We know Chicago is a great market for Under Armour in total, and we believe there's a great suburban consumer there as we grow." He declined to give first-year sales projections.

One thing Under Armour is learning is "women's will be a great business," said Hufnagel. "The female is shopping at our store, and we believe we can find our core consumer in suburban malls."

The Aurora store has the same aesthetic as the one in Annapolis, and the larger size is partly a result of Under Armour's addition of noncleated footwear, which requires additional storage space. Under Armour added about 700 square feet to its Annapolis store to accommodate the footwear.

The next store, a 4,600-square-foot mall unit in Natick, Mass., is set to open in August, but Under Armour doesn't have plans past that.

"We're fully committed to getting a sample set of stores, but don't have any longer-term plans settled," Hufnagel said. "Obviously there's lots of angst about the economy, but since we are testing a concept as opposed to planning to open a certain number of spaces, we're trying to be opportunistic. There's more good real estate available, and we're having a lot more conversations."

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