On Monday, December 1st, I had the pleasure of hosting the H&M store opening at the new University Town Center Mall in Sarasota, FL. This new mall recently opened in October, and it's one of the premier shopping destinations in the area. It's the 20th H&M store to open in Florida, and is approximately 22,000 square feet of women's, men's, and children's fashions. It's two stories with escalators, elevators, and separate store within store sections for accessories, lingerie, sports apparel, plus size clothing, and even some maternity. This was my first opportunity to host a store opening and I felt truly honored. H&M is such a huge brand, and is a brand that I've been a fan of since high school. I had a lot of excitement built up leading up to the opening, but there was also some nervousness. This was a first for me and I wasn't sure what to expect. Would enough people show up to the opening? Would everyone be as excited as I was? I wanted the opening day to be successful, but most importantly FUN! I have to say that my expectations were not only met, but they were exceeded. I couldn't believe how many people that were lined up outside the store when I arrived two hours before opening time. Everyone, from the locals waiting in line to the H&M staff, was really kind and pumped for the opening. The energy inside and outside the store was contagious. The DJ was mixing some great tunes, everyone was dancing, sipping punch, laughing, and having a great time! The locals were so excited and couldn't wait until the clock struck noon, so they could get their hands on some H&M fashions.
Upon my arrival I had the opportunity to meet with the H&M staff and tour the new store. One of the best parts was getting the opportunity to shop the store before anyone else. Talk about an awesome feeling! Everything was brand new, hadn't been tried on, and was all there for me to play dress-up in. I thought it would take me forever to pick out my outfit for the opening, but once I laid eyes on this gray fitted dress, it was love at first sight. I finished off my look with a fall/winter must-have: a faux fur vest and an eye-catching statement necklace, for some holiday flair.
At around 11:15 it was GIVEAWAY time! I had been given a handful of $100 H&M gift cards to gift to 5 lucky people waiting in line for the opening. In order to win, those waiting in line had to tweet/instagram me and H&M a selfie w/ the hashtag #hmlovessarasota. It was a lot of fun doing the giveaway, and it hyped the crowd up even more. Once the 5 winners were chosen they came inside the store with me and I had the pleasure of giving them a tour and styling advice. They were all super sweet and really excited to have won. It was so much fun interacting with them and helping them shop the store for their must-have pieces.
Before we knew it, it was 10 seconds away from opening. The crowd was cheering, the DJ was pumping the music louder and louder and the countdown began. Once the clock struck 12, everyone shuffled inside the store as fast as they could (surprisingly without any pushing or shoving) and the shopping madness began! I couldn't get over the amount of people that filled the store in a matter of minutes and the lines at the registers was even more astonishing. It was definitely a successful opening day.
I want to thank everyone who came out for the H&M Sarasota University Town Center Mall opening and also a huge thanks to H&M for giving me the amazing opportunity to host. I had an awesome time!