Even young girls just want to have fun. At least, that's what G+G Retail had in mind when it created its newest concept, Rave Girl.
"Rave Girl is a similar concept to Rave, targeting the pre-teen customer, ages 7 to 14," says Josh Podell, vice president of real estate for New York-based G+G Retail Inc. "What we found was a lot of girls coming in to Rave with their older sisters and their mothers. They loved the clothing, but it didn't fit them."
Rave, G+G and Authentica make up a chain of clothing stores with target customers ages 12 to 25. Rave and G+G are located in regional malls and downtowns around the United States, and Authentica is primarily in Puerto Rico. There are about 460 stores in the chain, with six Rave Girl stores.
"The pre-teen, or 'tween,' is apparently a booming segment of the market," Podell says. "There are other chains starting now to focus on this market. Our goal is to get customers when they're 7 and keep them as Rave and G+G customers through their 20s and 30s."
And just because these young ladies are only 7 doesn't mean they're not interested in fashion. The Rave Girl stores are very fashion-forward, offering pre-teens clothes that fit the in-between body, but that are still cool and cutting-edge.
The interior of Rave Girl was designed to be hip and fun, with a palette of bright colors to attract the pre-teen customer. "Our design goal was to be separate and distinct from Rave," Podell says. "We wanted a higher-end appeal. We used different types of custom materials and finishesto give it a younger feel."
The Rave Girl stores, which are more expensive to build than Rave, also feature four young cartoon characters drawn in bright blues, greens, purples and oranges. The building costs for each Rave Girl store range from $225,000 to $300,000.
While Rave Girl has higher price points than Rave and G+G, the price points are still lower than some of its teen-store competitors, Podell says. The idea is to attract not only sisters and daughters of Rave shoppers but also daughters of women who don't shop at Rave. For instance, a mother may shop at stores like AnnTaylor and Bebe for herself and wants something fashionable for her daughter as well - but doesn't want to pay a lot for clothes her daughter will outgrow in six months.
With all of its concepts, Rave tries to make the stores part of a customer's lifestyle, says Jan Harvey, vice president of marketing and creative services for the company. For example, a program called Music Mania highlights up-and-coming bands. Every month a different band is featured with a poster in the store and information on the website. Customers fill out a ballot, and the winner meets the band and receives a $250 wardrobe from the store.
"It gives teenagers a lifestyle association through our stores that's not only about us selling clothes," Harvey says. "It shows them that we care about their other interests."
Rave Girl plans to open 30 stores this year and 30 to 40 stores per year after that. Eventually, Podell says, it should be a 400- to 500-store chain. He expects the Rave and G+G division to open 40 stores this year.
Rave Girl stores measure between 1,500 and 2,000 sq. ft. Other site requirements include at least 20 feet of frontage, and nearby co-tenants such as Limited Too, Wet Seal, Kids Foot Locker and GapKids. Rave Girl seeks A-rated malls, Podell says, and malls where an existing Rave or G+G store is doing well. The retailer is not looking for stores in a particular market, but rather wherever the best opportunities exist.
Stores targeting the "tween" market have become more abundant, Podell adds, because young girls today are more fashion-conscious than they were 10 years ago.
"The advantage we have (over our competitors) is offering a comparable product at a better price," he says. "Customers sense that, especially when buying something the children will grow out of."
Contact: Josh Podell, vice president of real estate, G+G Retail Inc., 520 Eighth Ave., New York, Ny 10018; (212) 279-4961.