ROCKINGHAM — Rue21, known for its women’s apparel, opened its doors Tuesday in a 6,500 square-foot section of Richmond Plaza beside the recently opened Roses Express.
Headquartered in Pennsylvania, Rue21 had 1,111 U.S. stores at the end of 2014 and also offers men’s clothing under its Carbon Elements and RueGuy labels. Its brands are popular among teens and young adults, with Forbes magazine noting its threads are “designed to appeal to 11- to 17-year-olds who aspire to be 21 and adults who want to look and feel 21.”
Store manager Sherry Hunter said Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were serving as soft openings with the official grand opening happening at 10 a.m. on Friday. Then, the first 100 people will receive Rue21 backpacks filled with items such as ink pens and coupons. Hunter will also be walking around the store handing out 20-percent-off cards.
She added that 39 people were lined up outside the doors and down the sidewalk on Tuesday in anticipation of the soft opening with the store doing close to $9,000 worth of sales.
“The clothing sells themselves,” she said, “and the sales change daily.”
In addition to men’s and women’s apparel, Hunter also said the Rockingham store is a Rue+, which includes plus size clothing.
They also sell the clothing line of Sadie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame, and Robertson is slated to visit the store in December.
The store features a sports wall that incorporates different sports teams with up-to-date fashion. The wall now contains NBA team Chicago Bulls apparel, but Hunter said that will soon change to Carolina Panthers gear.
The new tenant is part of a renovation of the nearly 50-year-old Richmond Plaza announced last June. Work began with the Belk department store’s new facade, continued with J.C. Penney and the stores in-between and is in the process of finishing the facelift of the east side of the plaza that includes Roses and Rue21. Modernizing the shopping center is expected to cost between $2.5 million and $3.5 million.
“We’re really excited to have another great national brand to the lineup,” said Neil Robinette, CEO of real estate developer Tri City Inc. “Not only is it good for Richmond County, but Rue21 doesn’t have a location in any of the surrounding markets. That’s a great plus for us as a community. More specifically to this store, it’s a beautiful store. It’s a great physical presence and something I think people will enjoy shopping there and be proud of. We’re really proud of it.”
As far as being located in Richmond Plaza, Hunter said that neighboring stores such as J.C. Penney have seen their sales go up since the remodel began, and she anticipates Rue21 reaping the same benefits.
“Our neighbors have said it’s really helpful,” she said. “It’s really made a difference.”
Rue21 is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.