If you've ever been in a Primark you'll know that it can be crazy, people everywhere, desperate to get their hands on the latest bargain must-have, well, that was nothin' compared to the experience of being at Primark in Birmingham when it opened to the public at 10am on Thursday morning. There has been a LOT of talk about Primark Birmingham High Street, which spans five floors across 160,000 sq ft, and employs more than 1,000 people. HELLO! was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the new superstore (which holds a Guinness World Record title for the World's Largest Fashion Retail Store), and before the public (literally) ran around straight after the ribbon was cut. To say it's mind-blowing would be an understatement - here are 17 reasons why the new store has to be seen to be believed.
1. The Disney Café
This is what everyone is losing their mind over, and when I watched the crowds roll in at 10am, people were going straight to the exciting new hotspot. This is no ordinary shop café, the Primark Café with Disney has a touch of Disney magic and kids are going to be OBSESSED. Hell, adults will be too. I can confirm that the Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes are delicious. You can also find healthy Mickey-shaped fruit skewers and hot chocolates and coffee lattes imprinted with Mickey's ears on the milky froth (and yes, you can even get oat milk there - how modern!). It's an Instagrammer's dream. Children will love the interactive game zone as well, and it's a perfect place to park your bum after you've shopped until you've dropped.
2. The Primarket
Following on with a similar theme, there's also a 'Primarket' inside, which I think you'll agree, is an excellent name and I'm kind of gutted I didn't think of it first. It's Primark's first own-brand café and we're predicting in ten years time it might be like popping into Costa for your morning beverage. And for caffeine lovers, at Primarket there's only Fairtrade certified coffee beans and five per cent of the total cost of every kilo of coffee sold in-store will go back to the coffee bean growers. The takeaway cups are compostable, and customers will get 10p off when they bring their own reusable cup.
3. Beautifying treatments on the go
Ok, so getting your hair and nails done in a big store is nothing new, but at Duck & Dry Xpress at Primark it's like a full beauty studio experience - and the prices are pretty amazing. It feels like a tranquil space amongst the chaos in the aisle, and worn out mums will absolutely love this. Whether you're after a mani (£10) or threading (prices start from £4) you'll come out looking better than when you went in.
4. There's a barbers
Fellas will love the new Mills x Primark barbers which is fronted by session hairdresser Joe Mills. The man in your life can keep himself busy with a quick cut, a wet shave or even a facial. And, game changer, customers (or wives!) can sip coffee in the Mills coffee bar while they wait.
5. There's pizza
Ah, who wouldn't love a slice of pizza mid-shop? At Primark in Birmingham you can find The Mezz restaurant which is considered a place to ‘grab & go’ or sit down for a full meal, including, yep, you've guessed it: freshly baked pizza from an actual pizza oven. You can also get rainbow cake and doughnuts. It's a good job I don't live in Birmingham or else I'd be there every day of the week.
6. You can make room for more clothes in your wardrobe
If you've Marie Kondoed your home and you've got lots of clothes you can recycle, you'll be pleased to know there's a recycling scheme which means customers can easily recycle pre-loved clothes and shoes from any brand. Ideal if you're planning a big shopping marathon, and you'll feel less guilty.
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7. A dedicated Harry Potter zone
Potterheads, rejoice. You can meet like-minded Harry Potter fans in the special section. The Hogwarts Wizarding World gives budding wizards and witches EVERYTHING they need to pass their OWLs with flying colours (and pull Krum at the Yule Ball).
8. It's a love letter to Birmingham
I think the people of Birmingham will feel pretty special when they walk around this particular Primark. With 'Hello Brum' neon signs on the wall, you can even buy T-shirts with slogans on like "100% brummie". In fact, Primark employed a three-person Brummie focus group who all helped them with feedback and for the extra special touches that would make locals feel loved. All together now: Aww.
9. Personalised T-shirts (and doughnuts)
If you're shopping for the perfect gift, you'll love the Custom Lab which gives customers the chance to create a bespoke, personalised T-shirt for them or for a gift. If you want a personalised doughnut, that's also do-able - just head to Primarket and you'll be loving life.
10. There are over 500 mannequins inside
Who doesn't look to a mannequin for a little bit of style inspiration? Well, with 288 full bodied mannequins, you've got plenty to choose from. There are 19 in the trend-led section alone.
11. Cole Sprouse is the Primark photographer
Yes, Cole Sprouse who plays Jughead in Riverdale and Ross's kid in Friends, is now a Primark photographer. Well, kind of. The actor-slash-photographer shot the campaign photos that you can see up on the walls in the Birmingham store. He's one talented fella.
12. A dedicated Disney shopping area
Ok, so you've eaten your Disney pancakes, you've made your Disney tee, how about a little shop in the Disney Shopping Area? You can find everything from clothing to soft toys - there's even a Disney baby section with a selection of babywear and accessories.
13. Recharge seating areas
We all know how annoying it is to not be about to get WiFi while out shopping, but thankfully Primark shoppers can enjoy free Wi-Fi and recharge seating areas, where they can chill out and recharge their batteries, both literally and physically.
14. Hell no H2O
Customers will also find water fountains throughout the store and all water sold is bottled in recyclable or recycled packaging. No plastic waste where that's concerned!
15. There are two entrances
Don't you just hate it when you're shopping in a large store and it takes forever to get to the exit? Same. But at Primark you've got two to choose from. One at the front (which is an ideal exit for the Bullring and for the high street) and one at the back (which is a prime spot for Moor Street station).
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16. The fitting rooms are next level
Fitting rooms can be awful, can't they? Well, not here. I can confirm that these are pretty special. With curtains that stretch the entire cubicle (144 in total), each one is numbered and lights to green when it's not free to use, and red when it's occupied. And what's more, you've got 20 seconds until it goes to green which they've worked out is just the perfect amount of time for you to show a friend your dress or to ask a sales assistant for something. Seriously, those Primark bosses have thought of everything.
17. There's a SECRET room
So, you're with your pals or your sisters, or your daughters, and you want to try on clothes together? Well, introducing: The Showroom. This can be booked out for 20 minutes at a time and is very cool inside. You can dim the lights, turn it into a disco, whack on some music and have a fun time trying on clothes. There's also no need to book. Genius.
With the British high street being in serious trouble right now, it's amazing to see a brand that's doing everything it can to take people away from shopping online (not that there's anything wrong with that) and into store. Will Primark start a trend and all the others will follow? I certainly hope so.