Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Victoria's Secret stirs up buzz

Set to open in Polo Park next week

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IKEA isn't the only new big-name retailer Manitobans are eager to welcome to the city.

Excitement is building for Winnipeg's first Victoria's Secret store, which is scheduled to open next Thursday in the Polo Park shopping centre.

"There is a real buzz about this store opening," mall manager Deborah Green said Thursday. "We're getting calls from people saying, 'Is it true? Is it true?' They're seeing the billboards... announcing the Nov. 1 opening."

U.S.-based Victoria's Secret is the world's best-known lingerie retailer. It's taking over the former Cleo and Ricki's locations on the main level next to HMV, between Sears and Centre Court.

At 8,500 square feet, the store will be the biggest lingerie shop in Polo Park and possibly in the city. Green said it's about 11/2 times bigger than the mall's La Senza lingerie store.

"It's go big or go home, I guess," she said. "In some markets they (Victoria's Secret stores) are even larger. But that's a good size for the Winnipeg market."

Green said most of the calls the mall has been getting are from women. But she also expects to see plenty of men checking out the store and its broad selection of women's products, including bras, panties, sleepwear, swimwear, loungewear, yoga pants and beauty products.

"Especially as we get closer to Christmas."

She said men tend to bring along a buddy when they go shopping for lingerie for their wife or girlfriend. And that will likely be the case with the Victoria's Secret store, as well. "We call it safety-in-numbers shopping."

Green said the Cleo and Ricki's outlets didn't balk at moving to other locations in the mall because they realized a Victoria's Secret store will help draw more female shoppers to the mall.

The store will be opening a month earlier than was originally thought.

"They didn't want to lose that lucrative month of December," Green said, "so they pushed really hard to get the store open."

She said the hoarding around the store is scheduled to come down on Monday, which is also when the inventory is expected to start pouring in.

Victoria's Secret opened its first stores outside the United States in Calgary and Toronto in 2010. It has since added more stores in a number of other Canadian cities.

Manitobans who like to cross-border shop may have already visited the Victoria's Secret stores in Grand Forks and Fargo, N.D.

"Now they won't need to go across the border for that anymore," Green said. "We're bringing these American retailers here to Winnipeg."

A spokesperson for Victoria's Secret Canada could not be reached Thursday.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 26, 2012 B4

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