The boy-band phenomenon One Direction is coming to the Mall of America for six weeks.
But the fab five won't be there in the flesh. A pop-up store offering all manner of swag branded with the likenesses of the British singers opens on March 16, selling posters, calendars, T-shirts and a chance to win prizes - including coveted tickets to their summer tour.
It's part of the latest push to build the buzz and bottom lines of the English-Irish pop stars, whose meteoric rise has become a $50 million business enterprise.
But the armies of young fans (and their parents) that the store is expected to bring to the mall may serve as a shot in the arm to brick-and-mortar stores as they fight to combat online competition and remain a destination.
"The real winner is not just the band but also the Mall of America," said Michael Brown, a retail analyst with global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney. "As more people shop online, they're putting in a shop that could draw hundreds or thousands of people to the mall who might not have come out to shop."
The temporary store, which will be called 1D World, is the third to open in the United States and one of 20 expected to open by the end of the band's tour in August, said William Stone, the U.S. project manager for the 1D World stores.
The first store launched almost on a lark in Sydney, Australia, for a couple of weekends last year, and more than 2,500 young fans showed up for the opening. The pop-up concept has since spread to New Zealand, Sweden, Spain and Canada, with a couple of stores finally heading to London.
The Mall of America store will be heavy on accessories, with 120 items including rings, wrist bands and iPhone covers. The most popular items are life-size cutouts of the band members, which sell for $35. Also popular: an adult "onesie," a zip-up jumpsuit that sells for $100.
"We put together an exclusive line just for the store," Stone said. "The concept is basically taking a concert retail operation out of that venue and moving it into a retail store."
The five-member band - Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan - are cheekily referred to as part of a new "British Invasion."
After competing on the British TV singing show "X Factor" in 2010, One Direction catapulted onto the music scene. Their voices and charisma (and great hair) won the hearts of teenage girls everywhere. The band has more than 13.7 million Facebook fans and 10.4 million followers on Twitter.
One Direction goes beyond most celebrity retail endeavors. They've got duvet covers, dolls, even a toothbrush that plays their hit, "One Thing," to encourage kids to brush longer through the two minutes of music. British catalog giant Argos signed One Direction to launch a line of silver bracelets and necklaces in its spring-summer issue.
The pop-up store is emerging as a new merchandising channel for the music industry.
"Years ago, there were record stores and CD stores that could move the intellectual properties," Brown said. "With everything being digital, more artists and more acts are going to have to find creative venues to bring their brand to the market."
The store opening comes in advance of a sold-out show on July 18 at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis, where scalpers are selling tickets for hundreds of dollars.
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1D World will occupy space recently vacated by the Mayo Clinic's Healthy Living store. It will open its doors at 9 a.m. on March 16, but mall officials already have issued "official event guidelines" that include a double-asterisked, all-points alert that "One Direction will NOT be making an appearance at this store opening."
To accommodate expected crowds, the mall will allow fans through the lower-level doors on the East entrance beginning at 5:30 a.m. that Saturday. Then they'll be placed in a line and ushered into the store in small groups throughout the day.
Camping out overnight "is not encouraged," said officials at the Bloomington mall.
Kyra Rose, 11, missed out on concert tickets but is hoping to talk her mother, Karla, into letting her be among the throngs to show up the day the store opens. "I love Harry," she said. "He's my future husband."
Kyra's Golden Valley bedroom is teeming with One Direction posters, and she's got a drawer full of T-shirts. But there's room for more. "I have fake nails, a keychain. I have their albums, earrings, a necklace, I have a book about them," she said. "I want shoes."
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