Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo opened its first Brooklyn outpost this morning at the Atlantic Terminal Mall, and boy were people excited about it. Announced in July, the popular and relatively inexpensive Gap-like store took over the space formerly occupied by Daffy’s, and it’s much more open and warehouse-like than what was in there previously.
To take a look at it from the eyes of a shopper, I braved the lines after it had opened, and took notes on the experience. Check it out, and then let us know how the shopping was for you in the comments.
10:40am Arrive at the new Uniqlo location, which is on the second floor of the Atlantic Terminal Mall, next to the Target. People posted at the second floor entrance are shouting, “Uniqlo grand opening, third floor!” A line to get into the store circles the elevator bay, and is growing at the top of the third floor escalators.
10:44 I join the line. Security is letting groups of people in only when a bunch of shoppers have left. Several press photographers snap pics of the people crazy enough to wait to buy stuff.
10:48 I am “lucky” to grace the very end of my group in line who got to go down one level. “Girl in the green jacket, last in line,” the wranglers shout, one after another until I’m back in a non-moving line, with about 80 people ahead of me.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” says a woman passing by.
10:53 I ask a line wrangler named Joe what time shoppers started showing up. “Oh, they were here before nine,” he says, laughing. The first 300 shoppers were rewarded for their insanity with a free Uniqlo tote bag.
10:57 “I’ve never heard of this place before,” Marie, the woman now behind me in line with her 2-year-old daughter, says when I ask her why she’s here. “But I saw the crazy line and thought if people will wait in a crazy line, it must be good.” She says she’ll look for winter coats for her kids.
The people in line are a diverse mix, including people like Marie who just happened to be in the mall and are curious about the hubbub, college-aged kids who look like they’re wearing a lot of Uniqlo clothing already, and more Japanese-speakers than I’ve ever seen in this place.
11:03 I’m let into the store after 19 minutes in line, and it is is packed, a bit chaotic, a bit of a mess, but employees are walking around picking up as best they can, a Sisyphean effort. Two employees folding shirts tell me it’s been this busy since the doors opened.
“But it’s slowing down now,” says one.
“Well, if you can call this slow,” says the other.
11:07 I run into the middle of the line, which is easy to do — it snakes around most of the store. I make my way through, and ask a couple I pass how long they’ve been waiting: about 10 minutes, and they’re nowhere near the registers.
“It’s kind of like an amusement park,” the man says. “Wish I had a fast pass.”
11:10 I consider buying a winter coat, which they’ve got on sale for about $50. Today through Sunday, when you spend $50 here, you’ll receive a free Heattech product, like those tights pictured above, which are supposed to keep you super warm with just one layer.
11:13 But I can’t make it. The loud, throbbing beats (they’ll have live taiko drum performances throughout this opening weekend), claustrophobia, and an overwhelming amount of fleece got the best of me. I head out into the cold on Flatbush Avenue, where it now seems like every single person is carrying a Uniqlo bag.
It will be interesting to see how this store survives this space. Will it have perpetually empty shelves like the Target? Will the lines be so long on a regular day, or during sales and other major shopping days? Is this the beginning of a new, different life for this mall, with a Uniqlo attracting shoppers who haven’t been inside before? Will you make it a regular destination when you’re looking for wardrobe basics?
Uniqlo is located on the second floor of the Atlantic Terminal Mall, Flatbush Avenue at Hanson Place. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10am-9pm, Sunday, 11am-8pm.