Eric Wang

The center of New Haven’s downtown shopping district on Broadway will soon feature one of the world’s largest athleisure chains.

In an email to the News, Lululemon spokesperson Meghan Chisholm confirmed that the store will open in a 5,133 square-foot location early this summer, but no specific opening date has been set. The space that Lululemon will occupy is currently vacant.

“We are excited to create a space for the community to experience our brand, both with our product and unique sweat and mindful experiences,” Chisholm told the News. “We were inspired by [New Haven’s] coastal culture, and are excited to exhibit our brand culture to the Connecticut community.”

The Canadian company, which was founded in 1998, offers an expansive range of athletic clothing to individuals of all genders and ages. According to Reuters, Lululemon operates over 400 stores around the globe, as of January 2017. More than 300 stores are located in the U.S. and Canada. Lululemon’s 2017 annual report — the last report published — indicated that the company had achieved a total revenue exceeding $2.6 billion that year.

Every week, Lululemon stores all over the world host complimentary yoga classes that take place in the store, and are led by instructors from local studios. Chisholm confirmed that the Broadway location will offer “many programming options” — such as yoga and meditation classes.

A few days ago, the forthcoming storefront –– which is adjacent to Patagonia –– posted a sign announcing the store’s arrival. The sign has generated buzz around campus, especially on the popular “Overheard at Yale” Facebook group.

Lululemon will join several other major retail stores at the Shops at Yale, including Patagonia, L.L. Bean, Gant, Barbour, and J. Crew.

Jacob Abdallah ’21 said that although Lululemon will likely be successful in New Haven, it is yet another luxury shop on Broadway that many students and residents are unable to afford.

“I personally don’t think we need any more big brand, high mark-up store,” Abdallah told the News. “Elite spaces like Yale already privilege and favor the wealthy, and having almost exclusively expensive retail stores on campus further exacerbates the already stark economic divide in the student body.”

Lululemon’s workout tops and pants cost between 50 and 200 dollars, and women’s sports bras can cost as much as one hundred dollars each.

Lauren Zucker, the associate vice president for New Haven affairs and University Properties, said that larger tenants –– who can typically afford a greater marketing spend –– are critical to helping smaller retailers survive, as they draw shoppers to the district.

“As I am sure you are aware, despite all of our efforts, we are fighting a broader macro trend in which brick and mortar retail is under a lot of pressure,” Zucker said in an email to the News. “In this light, we are very pleased that Lululemon has determined that New Haven is a vibrant and strong market in which they want to open a new store.”

According to Zucker, over 70 percent of Yale University Properties’ tenants are either regional or local owners. She stressed that because students are only in New Haven eight months of the year, it is critical to find tenants who serve not only the immediate local population, but also draw shoppers from all over the state.

Zucker said that the Shops at Yale’s mix of tenants cannot be just student friendly, or the merchants would not survive. The presence of national tenants, including Lululemon, Urban Outfitters, and J. Crew is complemented by smaller, local merchants such as Raggs, idiom, Neville Wisdom and Yurway.

“We at University Properties welcome feedback from all sources and we run focus groups and surveys to solicit input,” Zucker told the News.

Lululemon athletica, Inc. was founded in 1998 and became a publicly traded company in 2007.

Caroline Moore | caroline.moore@yale.edu