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Lululemon open at Kimball Junction

Azurde Harris from Orange County, Calif. talked her entire family into driving from Provo to Kimball Junction on Black Friday to shop at a tiny athletic apparel store with only about a half-dozen racks of clothing.

She said she loves the store. She even owns stock in the company.

Not thirty-minutes later, Megan Davis arrived from Salt Lake City with two of her friends saying another friend, Laura Stusek, is "obsessed" with the store and comes in weekly.

The store, Lululemon athletica, specializes in clothing for yoga and Pilates, but Stusek said she wears it for nearly everything from running to lifting weights.

As the fitness coordinator for Westminster College, she’s personal training and teaching classes all year long.

"I want something that looks good and is functional," she said. "I’m like a full-blown addict to this place I spend 50 hours a week in these clothes."

Harris teaches yoga herself. It’s no accident that exercise professionals are fond of the clothing. The company’s founder, Vancouver, British Columbia resident Chip Wilson, came up with the idea after doing yoga. The company website explains that he already had a business promoting active sportswear and after attending a few yoga sessions found available apparel to be totally inadequate.

He had yoga instructors wear his designs to test them and give feedback, as well as promote it. Ten years later, that strategy is still alive at Kimball Junction.

Hattie Gardner, manager for the new location that opened this summer, promotes the products by having athletic instructors and professional athletes wear the clothing and participate in free clinics or classes for the community. The store looks a little sparse because it needs room to host free yoga classes twice a week.

The store also promotes good nutrition and active living with clinics on cycling, running, boxing and anything else they can get an ambassador the title they give to participating instructors and athletes to host or promote for the brand.

Gardner said the company advertises minimally in the mass media and prefers this grassroots marketing because the brand wants to be associated with active people and lifestyles.

"We want to sell clothing, but we want to promote health as well," she said.

The ambassadors are also welcome to give feedback on the clothing. If someone doesn’t like something about the bra, Gardner said she has the number for the designer and can call her up directly and relay the complaint or suggestion.

"I like the Lululemon culture. Quality is No. 1, it’s a luxury brand. We operate completely on feedback from clients," she said.

Gardner got involved with the company through elite ambassador Emily Cook, a local Olympic skier. When the company invited her to be an ambassador, they also asked for her help in setting up a store in Park City. Cook recommended Gardner.

The clothing is recognizable by the "stylized A" that is its logo. Similar to a curvy "Omega" letter, the "A" is stitched into the design on some tops, and the logo is on the waist-band and pant-legs of bottoms.

Loraine Harris, Azurde’s mother, said she loves the slimming effect of the fabric and lines in the clothing. Her mother, Janice Zobrist, said yoga is getting popular among senior citizens and she’s as interested in the clothing as her granddaughter.

Stusek said she loves that the store offers to hem the pants for free, which is a big deal for the five-foot tall instructor. It also does well in her washer and dryer a feature not true of every line of specialized sportswear, she said.

Megan Davis said Stusek convinced her to visit the store by explaining how helpful and knowledgeable Gardner and the other employees are.

The schedule for the free classes as well as bi-monthly special events are available on the website, http://www.lululemon.com under "locations." "Addicts," like Stusek, can also get on a Gardner’s weekly email list.

Lululemon athletica

6300 North Sagewood

655-2601


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