Last Updated on February 16, 2020
Chico’s FAS, Inc. is an American women’s clothing and accessories retailer, founded in 1983 on Sanibel Island, Florida, by Marvin and Helene Gralnick. Headquartered in Fort Myers, Florida, Chico’s operates three brands: Chico’s, White House Black Market and Soma.
Back to the beginning…
Founders Marvin and Helene Gralnick met in 1972 while living in Guadalajara, Mexico. In 1983, they opened a tiny Mexican folk art gift shop in Periwinkle Place on Sanibel Island, Florida. In 1984, a second Chico’s was opened on Captiva Island, Florida. The store sold mostly art, but the boldly coloured sweaters outsold everything else, so much so, that the Gralnicks decided to transform their shop into a clothing store that they called Chico’s Folk Art Specialties. They later shortened the name to Chico’s FAS. All of the early stores featured Mexican folk art, antiques and fixtures that were made in Marvin’s in-house woodshop.
The power of originality.
So, how did Chico’s get its name?
Founder, Helene Gralnick, named the store after her friend’s parrot. Awk!
By 1989 Chico’s Folk Art Specialties was listed in Inc. Magazine as one of 500 fastest-growing privately held companies in America.
In 1990, the company name was shortened to Chico’s FAS and the company launched its Passport Loyalty Rewards program. Three years later, Chico’s FAS began trading on NASDAQ and placed 13th on Business Week’s list of the 100 Best Small Corporations.
In 1994 Chico’s FAS moved into their new office and
distribution center in Fort Myers, FL.
The next few years were exciting ones, with Chicos.com launching in 1999; the store’s first catalog mailed out in 2000; and, in 2001, Chico’s debuted on the New York Stock Exchange and earned a place on Fortune’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies, Business Week’s 100 Best Small Companies, and the top spot on Forbes’ 200 Best Small Companies.
White House Black Market
Chico’s acquired the White House Black Market brand in 2003. With a more intimate “boutique feel,” this store features private label women’s fashions and a broad range of accessories.
Soma, which specializes in lingerie, sleepwear and beauty products, was launched by Chico’s FAS in 2004. The brand also offers dresses and loungewear, as well as swimwear and foundation garmets.
In 2013 Chico’s celebrated its 30th Anniversary.
In 2014 Chico’s FAS expanded into Mexico as a franchise business and Chicos.com launched petite sizes. In 1918 Chicos FAS formed partnerships with ShopRunner, Amazon, QVC, Starboard Cruise Services, Princess Cruise Lines and a new airport operating partner, Stellar.
As of November 1, 2014, Chico’s FAS operated 1,557 women’s clothing stores in the US and Canada and sold merchandise through franchise locations in Mexico.
In 2018, Chico’s FAS announced its partnership with Habitat for Humanity International, sponsoring its 43rd Habitat home in Southwest Florida and announcing plans to build homes in Nashville, TN and Los Angeles, CA.
Communications and Marketing
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