By  on September 14, 1994

ATLANTA -- Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. has opened an 8,000-square-foot Polo store in Atlanta's Lenox Square Mall to replace a 3,500-square-foot Polo Shop, also in Lenox Square, that closed last week.

"Atlanta is an exciting long-term market, and the former store had been successful, with people asking for more selection," said David Hare, president of Polo Ralph Lauren Retail Corp. Sales per square foot in the old store averaged $750 to $800, said Hare. The new location is projecting sales at $800 to $1,000 per square foot.

The new store, which opened Saturday, features a much broader selection, said Hare, with 50 percent men's apparel, 30 percent women's and 20 percent home items, a category offered here for the first time.

Women's areas include the Collection; Collection Classics, a group of man-tailored suitings; Ralph by Ralph Lauren, a younger and less expensive sportswear collection that includes eveningwear, and Polo Sport for women featuring equestrian and weekend wear.

Men's areas will feature Polo Sport, Polo by Ralph Lauren men's wear and Double RL, a group of vintage-inspired clothing.

A spokeswoman from Polo Ralph Lauren said sales at the new store were 55 percent over plan for Saturday and doubled projections for Sunday and Monday. The strongest women's areas were Ralph Lauren Collection and Ralph. Bestsellers included a black mohair Cavendish jacket with leather buckles priced at $870 from the Collection and a black cavalry twill and brown tweed Katherine jacket at $498 from Ralph.

The home area is intended as a "decorator showcase," arranged in lifestyle settings, said Charles Fagan, managing director of Polo's New York stores. Antique furniture is mixed with furniture coverings, wallpaper, linens and tabletop items.

"Home items are inspired by apparel," said Fagan. "Fabrics include corduroy, velvet, flannel silk and lots of mixed patterns."

The back of the store has a Garden Room, which resembles a country floral shop with wide oak-plank floors, a tin ceiling and whitewashed walls, and features floral-patterned designs and accessories.

The design and layout mixes traditional Federalist architecture and mahagony woods with raffia walls and white and cream palettes. Merchandise is categorized in lifestyle vignettes, with mannequins that showcase an entire look, rather than bustforms, which are commonly used in many Polo stores.Women's and men's apparel are separated on sides of the store. Men's and women's fleece and cotton casualwear is displayed in the center of the store.

"We want to offer a shopping experience, and we educate our staff on that," said Fagan. "The store is multidimensional, and we're careful about details, such as music and flowers."

A pre-opening day party Friday drew 475 people. The event, a benefit for the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, included a silent auction of items from the men's, women's and home collections.

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