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VOL. 127 | NO. 164 | Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lululemon Athletica to Open in Regalia

By Sarah Baker

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Yoga-inspired athletic apparel company Lululemon Athletica Inc. is opening its first Memphis store this week, following more than a year of market due diligence.

“What we’ve seen from working in the community is that Memphis is filled with yogis, runners, gyms and people really taking care of their health,” said Carolyn Manning, new market community coordinator-East Coast at Lululemon Athletica. “It’s a fun community for us to be a part of.”

The Vancouver, British Columbia-based company will open to the public Thursday, Aug. 23, in Boyle Investment Co.’s Regalia shopping center in East Memphis. The 3,000-square-foot space is adjacent to A Pea in the Pod at 6126 Poplar Ave.

“They’re going to be a big help for the whole center in complimenting what we already have,” said Jon Isbell, assistant vice president for Boyle, who worked on the lease negotiations along with senior vice president Cary Whitehead. “We hope they’re good for our tenants, we hope our tenants are good for them. That’s what we strive for.”

Regalia’s 89,500 square feet are home to high-end tenants like Oak Hall, Vineyard Vines, Great Wines, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Circa and Owen Brennan’s. But Manning said the center’s retail portfolio is not the reasoning behind Lululemon’s Memphis store.

“They’re fantastic neighbors, but we don’t choose our location necessarily because of that,” Manning said. “We choose them more based on what’s a great, convenient location for our guests to be able to come and shop at the store. And for us to be close to studios and gyms, so that we can get to know them better.”

Lululemon opened a 1,000-square-foot showroom a few miles west of the Regalia location at 5007 Black Road about a year ago. It’s a process the retailer generally goes through in a market before it considers opening up a store, “to see if it would make sense,” Manning said.

“The showroom idea is … just to see if the community wants us there,” Manning said. “If we see that the community is really excited to be trying our product and to be practicing yoga, then we’ll open up a store.”

Based on community feedback and the “ambassadors” that Lululemon met and connected with, plans for a Memphis store quickly took shape.

“We have all of these amazing ambassadors like Matt Nason (runner and personal trainer at DAC Fitness), Christine Boyer (of Bikram Yoga Memphis), Karen Moss from Better Bodies (Yoga), Hannah Phillips from Give Yoga (Memphis) and Shantih Smythe from Midtown Yoga that we work with,” Manning said. “Basically local yogis and athletes in the community that we partner with and support.”

Thursday’s opening marks Lululemon’s second store in Tennessee, after a location in Nashville. To celebrate, Lululemon is hosting a free yoga class with its ambassadors on The Peabody Memphis rooftop Friday, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m. that’s “open to all levels.”

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