And then it happened. On Thursday, September 10, America got its very own Primark.
With the buzz in our ears for over a year, the day finally arrived. At 11am, the doors of the 1912 Burnham Building (formerly Filene’s Department Store) opened, people rushed in, skinny denim and trendy ponchos flew off the shelves, and history was made at renovation project led by Millennium Partners, the architects behind Millennium Tower Boston.
But not before quite the to-do earlier in the morning. The opening day celebration began at 8:45am, with a VIP breakfast for big shots, both local and from overseas. Primark executives, business partners, and media from around the country gathered for tours of the store. Call it the calm before the storm.
Along the way, informational nuggets were tossed out to the hungry crowd. For example, the store entrance’s “trend room,” which isn’t in every Primark, shows off runway looks and street wear; there are 530 mannequins, the most in any store in the company; the Boston location’s “recharging station” is a new concept with an ESPN-only HD TV; and Primark uncovered the original terra cotta ceilings as a nod to our history.
Meanwhile, an excited crowd gathered outside, drawn in not only by the hype, but also by KISS-108’s music, games and giveaways. Soon, the in-store podium was taken by the Primark gang, including Jose Luis Martinez de Larramendi, President Primark US Corp., Paul Marchant, CEO Primark, and the delightful Breege O’Donoghue, group director of business development, who not only gave a shout out to that night’s Patriots’ season opener but also told inspirational stories of JFK and our beloved Filene’s (RIP).
Boston’s big man on campus, himself a son of Irish immigrant parents, Mayor Martin J. Walsh took the microphone and explained how the location in the historic building was “embracing history to move forward.”
“This is a great day in Boston. I’m thrilled to officially welcome Primark,” he continued. “Primark will bring jobs and increased economic activity for our residents and visitors, and we are grateful they chose Downtown Crossing as the site of their first Northeast location.” It was this DTX location, known as the busiest pedestrian walkway in New England, as well as Boston’s large Irish community that were two main factors in Primark’s decision on locating into the 77,300-square-foot building.
Murmurs from shoppers supported that wise decision. You could hear a few Irish brogues telling their American counterparts to trust them, they “won’t shop anywhere else ever again.”
And we just might not. Known for its fashionably fun clothing, along with housewares, luggage, lingerie, and more (we even spotted makeup), this is where you shop when you want to look like you stepped out of a magazine but you don’t want to spend the cash. It’s this hold they have on the “cool kid” market that has set Primark apart since its opening in 1969 in the Republic of Ireland. Known for its ridiculously low prices and how-do-they-do-it quality, it wouldn’t be crazy for you to find a pair of jeans for $7, a gorgeous 100% wool hat for $10, a dapper men’s suit for $70, or a shirt dress for $18.
The countdown to the ribbon-cutting ended with the crowd (Irish and all) singing a verse of Boston’s favorite Neil Diamond tune “Sweet Caroline.” And when the doors opened at 11am, everyone felt so good, so good, so good.
Primark is located at 10 Summer Street in Downtown Boston.
Originally posted on The Voice of Downtown Boston.