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Lululemon planning Iowa City store

Showroom will allow chain to test market

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IOWA CITY — After trying successful pop-up stores in Coralville and Iowa City, yoga-focused athletic apparel retailer Lululemon Athletica is planning a store on the north side of downtown Iowa City.

The Canadian company will open a “showroom” store this spring at the corner of N. Linn and E. Bloomington streets. The exact opening date has yet to be determined, according to a Lululemon spokeswoman on Facebook.

Lululemon makes and sells high-end athletic apparel for yoga, running and working out. The company, which already has a store in Jordan Creek Town Center in West Des Moines, has more than 350 stores in North America, Europe and Asia.

Showroom stores offer the company’s core merchandise. The outlets do not have fixed hours and operate in space leased for six to 12 months to test the market.

Nate Kaeding, retail development coordinator for the Iowa City Downtown District, said Lululemon enjoyed success with pop-up stores at Iowa River Landing in Coralville during RAGBRAI in July 2015 and in early November in downtown Iowa City.

“I know they had a lot of traffic at their pop-up store in Coralville during RAGBRAI,” Kaeding said. “I helped them set up in a space on the Ped Mall. They had a line of female college students and other people who were raring to get in there. They had to bring in another truckload of clothing because they sold out of everything.”

Kaeding likes Lululemon’s model of pop-up shops, followed by a showroom store with core merchandise before the company commits to a full line permanent location,

“They hire a manager for the showroom store and do some collaborative work with a lot of community involvement,” Kaeding said. “They are able to get a clear idea of where they want to go permanently.”

Lululemon, a publicly-traded company, was founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1998.

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