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Victoria's Secret service lauded as lingerie shop opens

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About 250 people lined up in anticipation of what will likely go down as the second-most-popular arrival of a retailer in Winnipeg this year.

Victoria's Secret didn't open until 10 a.m. but the first customers arrived when Polo Park mall unlocked its doors three hours earlier.

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Deborah Green, manager of the city's largest mall, said there was a lineup outside the store all day.

"We anticipate that will be pretty much the case right through the weekend. They have their own security wearing business suits. It's very classy," she said.

The most highly anticipated retailer coming to town is IKEA, which is scheduled to open its store on Kenaston Boulevard on Nov. 28.

Green said the crowd for Victoria's Secret was primarily women but there were "quite a few men there with their wives."

The international retailing giant's more-than-9,500-square-foot location has a large, welcoming entrance and well-displayed intimates of all kinds.

A first-timer who doesn't know where to start? No worries. The stores have more staff than your typical retailer.

The comfortable environment is the brainchild of founder Roy Raymond, who felt embarrassed buying lingerie for his wife in a department store back in the 1970s.

Robert Warren, a local marketing expert, said unlike many of its competitors, Victoria's Secret is "man-friendly."

"It has taken the stigma away from going into a lingerie store for men," he said.

One of the top differentiators at Victoria's Secret, Warren said, is customer-friendly displays that make it easier to see the products and understand the sizing.

"You're not rummaging through hampers. In lots of other stores, (the garments) are not full-up on display. It makes it seem as if it's a naughty product," he said.

"Victoria's Secret will make men feel less uncomfortable when walking in and not knowing the difference between a bra and a camisole or whether their wives wear a full cup or a demi-cup."

The fact many of its products come in bright, vibrant colours -- not in beige and white -- also puts men more at ease because it won't have them thinking they're looking at an old Eaton's catalogue, Warren said.

Victoria's Secret also carries lingerie that women really want to wear, Warren said.

"Typically when men think about going into a lingerie store, they end up going to some really racy place and buying things their wives would never wear in a million years," he said.

John Archer, senior consultant at J.C. Williams Group, a Toronto-based retail consulting firm, said Victoria's Secret excels in marketing their latest lines through annual fashion shows. They also have a significant online presence through social media, he said.

Victoria's Secret is a destination store as far away as the Middle East.

"They're not even allowed to sell the products they're best known for there (due to religious customs)," he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 2, 2012 B16

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Updated on Friday, November 2, 2012 at 9:13 AM CDT: Date of IKEA opening corrected

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