Athleta, an athletic retail store featuring a broad assortment of apparel for running, yoga, gym/training, swimming, hiking and everything in between, officially opened its doors at The Streets at Southpoint Wednesday morning, but hosted a private shopping event Tuesday afternoon, which saw a huge turn-out - folks were still waiting in long lines for their chance to enter the store 45 minutes into the event.
The shop offers a personalized styling service, uniquely tailored to individual athletic pursuits and style, complimentary hemming on pants and skirts in store, kiosks that link directly to the website, free fitness classes - everything from boot camp to Pilates - and in-store discounts for fitness professionals. In support of its national partnership with Girls on the Run, Athleta also will make a donation to the organization’s local chapter in celebration of the store opening and will continue to do community support and volunteer recruitment for the organization.
"The things that make Athleta unique are that we specifically are for women - the clothes are designed by women athletes for women athletes - we have a breadth of assortment for every sport, as well as the cute stuff to wear around with it, and the other thing that is unique is the level of customer service we are providing," says Tess Roering, Athleta’s vice president of marketing. "Every time we get new product in, [the salespeople] get trained on what is special about each piece. So, if you came in and said, "I’m going to go stand-up paddling for the first time, I need something waterproof with UPF protection," they could say, "Great, let me pull a few things for you.'"
But with lululemon athletica, another new athletic apparel store for both men and women that has ties to the local community and hosts in-store events ranging from self-defense to goal-setting workshops to complimentary yoga classes, also in Southpoint, you have to wonder what made Athleta choose this location.
"We always just look for the place that’s best for our customer," Tess says. "The advantage we have as a brand is that we’ve been a catalog and online business since 1998, so we know where we have a really penetrated customer base, and we know that's right here."
Tess also mentions that athletic apparel stores are in a category that's growing and expanding. So, maybe there's room for both to thrive. And, hey, if Durham is fit enough to attract two of these shops, it's certainly saying more for our community than if a McDonald's and Burger King decided to open in the mall.