ELYRIA — They came with looks of determination on their faces and money in their pockets.
Shopping bags were slung over their shoulders and some even had collapsible wagons they brought to better haul away all their fashion finds.
Thursday morning as the time clicked closer to 10 a.m., the line in front of the old Office Max store grew longer and longer.
Ten, 25 and then 50 men, women and children lined up outside the shuttered store that is seeing four days of renewed use thanks to a pop-up version of Discount Fashion Warehouse, the Columbus-area based retailer that markets itself as the place to go for mall brand apparel at deeply discounted prices. The location will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
“We go to this in Westlake when it’s there and I get all the notifications, emails and Facebook alerts,” said Heidi Dennison, 42, of Akron.
Dennison was first in line along with her 13-year-old, Camryn. And when the store manager flung open the doors, Dennison said she no longer had time to talk. She was ready to shop.
Company owner Jeff Bradshaw said Discount Fashion Warehouse has operated brick-and-mortar permanent locations in Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati for 20 years. A decision to break into the Northeast Ohio market — the pop-ups build brand awareness and a customer base — brought the store to Elyria.
“This is the way we get into a market with a pop-up event,” he said. “The customers look for us because they know they will get mall brand items for 60 percent to 90 percent off. It’s one weekend and then we are gone to return again in a few months.”
Bradshaw said he can’t say or advertise the brands customers can find — much like other popular discount retailers like T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s and Burlington Coat Factory — but customers on Thursday could find Express, The Limited, Victoria’s Secret and Lane Bryant among the racks and boxes of men’s and women’s shoes, dresses, shirts, bras and ties.
While new to Elyria — aside from the holiday-themed shops that appear around Halloween and Christmas — pop-up fashion events are popular in the retail world. And, if done right, it can be a lucrative venture, too. According to PopUp Republic, temporary shops snag about $10 billion in sales in the industry each year.
“They’re great and they help people out who can’t afford to spend full price on things,” said Amanda Miller, of Cleveland, as she perused a rack of women’s plus-size dresses from online retailer Gwynnie Bee that allows for clothes rentals. “Being a plus-size woman, this stuff is not cheap so you definitely want to get a discount on it when you can.”
Bradshaw said the store attracts all kinds of shoppers and its mobile existence actually is a seen as a plus.
“Customers usually leave with a smile on their faces,” he said. “Some ladies like to keep it a secret, but some can’t wait to tell their friends. We get people who like being first in line and people who like to treasure hunt.”