At 11 a.m., an hour before H&M opened in downtown Washington, hundreds waited in lines that snaked along Connecticut Avenue and Desales Street in Northwest Washington.
Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” blared through loudspeakers while employees handed out Georgetown Cupcakes — which, for many, would be breakfast.
“H&M is an amazing store,” said Josh Battle, 19, who had been waiting in line since 3 a.m. “I didn’t go to sleep at all last night.”
The chain’s newest store, at 1133 Connecticut Ave. NW, brings discounted goods back to the spot Filene’s Basement vacated nearly three years ago.
H&M’s arrival is a bright spot for the neighborhood, which has struggled to attract and retain retailers in recent years. (Across the street from H&M, the former Talbots site at 1122 Connecticut Ave. NW, has been vacant for nearly three years. A few doors down, Burberry is preparing to move out of its space by the end of this month, leaving another vacancy in its wake.)
“This is a great fit for the neighborhood,” said Leona Agouridis, executive director of the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District, a marketing arm for the D.C. neighborhood wedged roughly between Farragut Square, Washington Circle and Dupont Circle. “A lot of people who live and work in the area are very excited.”
The 28,000-square-foot store is H&M’s fifth District location and carries mens’ and womens’ apparel, as well as plus-sized clothing.
Adam Winfield, 33, and Maria Marshall, 35, were the first in line for Thursday’s opening. They had been waiting in line since 11 p.m. Wednesday night with hopes of securing $300 gift cards. (The first 100 customers in line were promised vouchers valued between $50 and $300.)
“We really need a new wardrobe and we’re really poor right now,” Winfield said. His dog, Daisy, napped nearby.
A few yards away, Ryan Washington had taken the day off from his internship at the State Department to shop.
“I woke up at 4:30 to be here,” the 18-year-old said. “There was no way I was going to miss this.”