By  on December 3, 2008

NEW YORK — Forever 21’s largest store, a 90,000-square-foot unit at 1540 Broadway in Times Square, will feature apparel for men, women and children as well as more extensive shoe, lingerie and accessories departments, a larger selection of fashion basics and new product categories. The unit, opening in 2010 and being referred to as a “department” store, will have significant signage including the iconic neon sign of the Virgin Megastore, whose space it will occupy. While the California-based retailer is known as a chain for juniors, the new flagship also will launch apparel for older consumers. “Our data shows that 20 percent of our customers are under 18, about 45 percent are 18 to 24, and 35 percent are over 24 years of age,” Larry Meyer, senior vice president of Forever 21, said. “We’re getting more older customers, given that we’re fashion-oriented and offer great values. People want to get more out of their money. We have customers 35 and older. We will develop things for those consumers. Over time, we will expand to offer them more and more.” Meyer said the company could “potentially do a separate retail concept for women 35 and older, but our goal is to have these department stores, which give off the appropriate energy to all different types of people. We prefer to do it in one large box.” Forever 21’s stores have been getting bigger and bigger, with units ranging from 40,000 square feet to 80,000 square feet. “At this point we have evolved into a mini anchor,” Meyer said. “We have a 55,000-square-foot box at the Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, Va.” The company, which according to real estate brokers, is one of the few retailers signing leases since the economy took a nosedive, opened a store in Arlington, Tex., in a unit now occupied by Mervyn’s, which is liquidating. Forever 21 opened another unit in a former Lord & Taylor in Holyoke, Mass. “We’ve taken our better stores and [closed them] then opened in the same mall with bigger boxes. We basically react to the market as it’s evolving. We do that both in our clothes and our real estate.” Meyers said the Times Square store is a significant development for Forever 21. “We’ve grown a lot in the last couple of years,” he said. “It’s really important in terms of location as well as size. It’s truly a flagship.”

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