If he could, Joe Biscocho would have been in line for the grand opening of the only H&M store in Long Beach since 6:30PM Wednesday.
Unfortunately, security turned him away because it was considered loitering at the Pike Outlets, so Biscocho settled for 5:00AM Thursday.
The 23-year-old lifelong Long Beach resident said he got to the outlets at 3:00AM and slept in his car until store officials allowed him, his sister, and his friend make a queue.
“At 5:00AM there were about 20 of us that kind of sprinted to the line, and I got there first,” Biscocho said excitedly. “It was really cool.”
The trio was able to pass the time lounging on camping chairs, watching videos on YouTube and getting to know other guests in line, Biscocho said.
Biscocho’s patience paid off when he got a gift card valued at up to $300—a special offered to the first 300 guests in line—in addition to a $100 gift card he won when he became one of the first five people to tweet at Los Angeles-based fashion blogger Stephanie Liu.
The competition was in connection with the grand opening, said Liu, who has collaborated with H&M to promote a previous grand opening in Southern California and who regularly works with them to create content on her blog.
“It’s mostly my style and demographic, 17 to 29, which aligns with H&M’s price point—being on trend and feminine,” said Liu.
The festive day included a DJ, dancing, and coupons for free H&M-flavored ice cream. Guests who brought donated clothing also received a voucher for 15 percent off their next purchase.
More than 300 people were present for the noon opening, and according to store officials, all 50 employees hired for the store were present Thursday. Normally only 27 are regularly scheduled.
The new two-story location will offer trendy collections for ladies, men, youth, children’s, maternity, plus-size and accessories at competitive prices, according to a press release.
The store will be joined by Forever 21 and Nike as official retailers of “The New Pike,” in which $65 million is being invested in expansion and new retailers.
“Long Beach was chosen as California is one of H&M’s strongest markets and the demand for more stores is always high there, especially in the south,” said H&M representative Patrick Shaner.
H&M was established in Sweden in 1947. There are more than 369 stores in the U.S. and about 3,600 H&M stores in 58 markets worldwide, according to the press release.
Above, left: H&M customer Joe Biscocho. All photos by Stephanie Rivera.