H&M, the Swedish fast-fashion chain, opened a new store in Jerusalem’s Malha Mall on Tuesday.
The opening ceremony was monitored very carefully, with customers being allowed to enter in groups of 20, after H&M’s flagship store opening in Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Center deteriorated into a dangerous crush.
By 11 a.m. hundreds of people were waiting eagerly in a cordoned-off section that wound from the shop front, opposite the food court, to the mall’s entrance.
At 11:45 a.m., as the crowd grew more excited, the shop assistants, wearing “H&M – Jerusalem” T-shirts, gathered behind the shop’s iron railings for a group pep-talk by management.
As the clock struck 12, the doors of the shop opened amid cheers from the gathered staff. The first 200 customers received special H&M bags containing a specially designed T-shirt, an H&M cellphone charm and other promotional items.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, H&M Israel CEO Gilad Kroner, Dana and David Azrieli, Andrew Grove, George Grove and Gideon Avrahami participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which took place before the customers were allowed to enter.
“The whole atmosphere is more calm down here [than in Tel Aviv],” Kroner told The Jerusalem Post. “I myself am Jerusalem-born, so for me I’m really proud that the Jerusalem people are really well-behaved.”
He said the chain was planning to open five more stores in Israel: next month in Haifa; in the summer in Kfar Saba; and next year in Netanya, Rehovot and Petah Tikva.
“I hope that the same atmosphere that exists [at the store in Jerusalem] will exist as long as possible,” Kroner said.
Alex Goadniuk, H&M’s Jerusalem store manager, said the store
opening was amazing. “We’re trying to show Israelis what they want:
good clothes,” he said. “For Israelis, this is really something.”
shoppers were also enthusiastic. Esther Goldberg, originally from New
York, said, “It’s really cool. I was excited to get the free stuff.
It’s pretty much the same here as in the [United] States, although
maybe their prices are a bit higher.”
Chaim Shuman, from Jerusalem, said, “I think I’ll buy some things. It’s very cheap, and the design is better.”