Burlington, the retain chain formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory, opened its new Center City location on Friday as the transformation of the former Gallery at Market East into the Fashion District Philadelphia continued.
The 833 Market St. store had several of its 75 sales associates greeting customers out front at 9:30 a.m. after a ribbon-cutting with executives from the Florence-based discount chain as well as from Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), which is redeveloping Fashion District Philadelphia with partner Macerich.
PREIT said Burlington, which used to be at 10th Street and Market, was the second retailer to open as part of the rehabbed mall. The first was Century 21 in 2014, adjacent to the Burlington location.
"This new space will allow Burlington to operate on two floors and offer customers its newest store design to date in an ideal location. The move allows us to reconfigure their former building at 11th and Market to accommodate the entertainment anchors, among others," said PREIT chief executive officer Joseph Coradino, who spoke at Friday's ribbon-cutting.
PREIT had previously announced that one of the anchors will be a multiplex movie theater.
The construction in and around the new store is to remake the corridor east of Broad Street into a retail destination. Another high-profile development across Market, called East Market, will include residential, retail, and office space. East Market's first tenant, MOM's Organic Market, opened Sept. 8.
Burlington Stores Inc., a national off-price retailer, has 620 stores in 45 states and Puerto Rico, and is opening about 20 a year. The company's stock has risen from about $25 to more than $100 in the last five years and closed at $89.78 on Friday.
Burlington's departments include ladies' dresses, suits, sportswear, juniors, menswear, family footwear, and children's clothing. It also includes furniture and accessories for babies and coats.
Fred Hand, principal and chief customer officer for Burlington Stores, said Friday's store opening was one of 48 planned for this year, of which 37 are new locations. In addition, he said, 34 stores are being remodeled to have the same look and feel as the Philadelphia store.
He said the store's name was changed in 2013 when the company went public. It has since been changing the stores to reflect the change in name.
"We're hoping for the next couple of years, all the stores will no longer have 'Coat Factory' on the outside," he said. "We're getting great traction in making the customer understand that we're more than just coats."
Shopper Muriel Subaran, 76, of Darby Borough, knew one of her favorite stores had a lot more. On Friday, the retiree rode the elevator down to the lower level to check out dresses.
"It looks good," she said. "This is so convenient for me. I just take the trolley and bus, and it drops me off right here."
Burlington is open from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the first 500 customers will receive a free Burlington tote bag to mark the opening weekend.
The battle for bargain shoppers, like Subaran, in Market East will only intensify.
Burlington joins a competitor, Ross Dress for Less, at Eighth Street and Market, a Marshalls at 1044 Market St., and next year's arrival of a TJ Maxx at the East Market project.
Hand said there was room for everyone.
"We are in the niche that the customer wants to shop at, and welcome competition because it brings more traffic to the center," he said. "We feel that there is always going to be an opportunity for the brick-and-mortar shopper to shop in the store. There is business to be had by all."