Affordables Apparel women's boutique to test Augusta market with pop-up store

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Affordables Apparel will open a "pop-up" store in downtown Augusta next month.

A regional chain of women’s boutiques will test the Augusta market next month with a “pop-up” store on Broad Street.

Charleston, S.C.-based Affordables Apparel plans to open the temporary store in 1,000 square feet of space inside 600 Broad Street, the former Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce office situated in the center median, during the weekend of March 4-5.

The retailer, which specializes in women’s fashions and accessories such as shoes, jewelry and scarves, will occupy the section of the building’s first floor not being used by its current tenant, the Greater Augusta Arts Council-affiliated Community Gallery of Augusta.

Affordables Apparel spokeswoman Chrissy Raines said the eight-store chain, which opened a store last summer in downtown Aiken, will operate the pop-up in the same manner as its full-service locations. The main difference will be a smaller floorplan and requirement that any merchandise returns be handled at a full-service store.

“Our customers tend to be women with busy, active lives who look to maximize style and comfort while keeping an eye on value,” Raines said.

The company, founded in 1969 as Lowell’s, has been owned since 2012 by Saluda, S.C., native Lyndon Amick and his wife Melanie. It has operated similar pop-up stores in Kiawah Island, S.C., and near Batesburg, S.C., where the Amicks maintain a residence.

Margaret Woodard, executive director of Augusta’s Downtown Development Authority, contacted Affordables Apparel about opening the store last fall.

Woodard, who has frequented the company’s stores in Aiken and Savannah, Ga., said she thought it would be an easy way for the retailer to try out Augusta.

“Pop-up stores are a great way to test a market without making a long-term commitment,” she said. “We hope this will be the start of getting other regional brands to test the downtown market.”

She said the authority is targeting mid-sized retailers who operate stores in a three-hour driving radius of Augusta. The pop-up store strategy is part of a larger initiative to get a “better mix of retail” in the central business district, she said.

Raines said the company is “always open to new opportunities to expand into new areas either through pop-up shops or direct stores.”

Unlike many temporary retail stores that focus on liquidating overstocked merchandise or closing out discontinued products, the Affordables Apparel store will simply be a smaller version of the company’s existing stores.

“This is not a closeout store,” Woodard said. “This is current fashion.”

Operating hours will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 4 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 5.

By Damon Cline Fri, May 06, 2016 @ 7:00 am