The Revisit: Is Primark Still Worth Shopping?
When we first visited Primark, the store was a buzzing, neon hub of energy. It was back in November, the day before its grand opening, and an army of staffers was folding, tidying, sweeping, merchandising and prepping the 80,000-square-foot space for an inevitable onslaught of shoppers. The store was organized with militant precision, sparkly and shiny and new, a fast-fashion behemoth that threatened to take the wind out of H&M’s sails.
But now it’s been a minute (a little over three months, actually), and I’ve found that this is generally when the just-opened sheen starts to wear off (see: the Bloomies Outlet; Nordstrom Rack). So I headed back out to KOP to see how Primark is faring now that the CEOs and PR managers and design directors have left the building, and to answer the question that’s been in my mind since opening day: Is it really possible to keep a store this big that organized?
With 80,000 square feet and at least 10 departments (men’s, women’s, baby, kid’s, accessories, home, beauty, shoes, activewear, lingerie and loungewear), the store has plenty of room to start to unravel. But on my visit—mid-afternoon on a Monday—everything looked great. It was organized and clean, and staffers were super-friendly.
The trend-focused womenswear section disappointed. Fabric quality and construction was cheap (almost all tags here have a “Keep away from fire!” warning on them); the blouses (which I’m sure are meant to look like louche, silky tops) looked flimsy and droopy; and the $8 sweaters felt like sandpaper. But the $18 sweaters (above) felt great—maybe not quite like cashmere, but far closer—with cool, slouchy cuts. Buy these.
The shoe section was still jam-packed; a pair of wood(ish), clog-like platforms caught my eye, as well as a pair of burnt-orange faux-suede lace-up sandals for $22. There are still plenty of super-cheap sneakers here—simple Keds-like throw-ons—that at $21, are great single-season buys.
Tip: The gift and beauty section is where you’ll find the best deals. It’s filled with the tiny grab-and-go buys that tempt you as you wait in line at Sephora— nail polish ($0.90!), brushes, loofahs, nail files, makeup, mirrors, cosmetic bags, etc. Buy all of this and save it for last-minute gifts. And speaking of gifts, this is where you’ll find cute, staggeringly cheap gift bags. I walked away with a pile of splashy ones; the best deal is a $2.50 bag that comes with tissue paper, a gift tag and a card. Hello, instapresent.
The home section doesn’t disappoint, either. It’s impeccably organized, and stocked with everything from towels and sheets (steer clear of the latter, which are rough and unappealing) to the softest faux-fur throws ever. Buy one in a pale dove-gray.
The men’s section, though, felt lacking. Pants were too skinny (more like jeggings than jeans, a trend that please-please has to go away), and the suiting felt like tissue-paper. But button-ups and lightweight jackets are worth checking out.
Things looked up in the baby and kid’s department: cute onesies, tiny pastel twill jeans (these are $8), teensy shoes and tops that feel appropriately stylish and perfectly priced for their relatively short lifespan. Hey, kids grow fast. No sense spending more than $8 on jeans.
My expectations were low; I’ve seen big-box retailers quickly falter and fall from grace after opening day. But Primark is still keeping it together, a colorful, friendly, well-organized (against all odds) and yes, still buzzing, hub.
The Details: Primark, the Plaza at King of Prussia Mall, 610-265-3086.