In 1983, Marvin and Helene Gralnick opened the first Chico's at Periwinkle Place on Sanibel Island, Florida. Transforming an old 800 square foot tobacco shop, Marvin built counters, shelves, and cubbyholes while Helene designed the Chico's logo. They named the store after Helene's best friend's bilingual parrot, Chico, and began selling specialty folk art products from Mexico. That is how Chico's Folk Art Specialties was born!
Along with the Mexican folk art, Marvin and Helene tried a small sampling of cotton sweaters from Mexico. The sweaters were such ‘hot' sellers that Marvin and Helene decided to forgo selling the folk art and focus on clothing and related accessories. At first, they marketed other vendors' clothing, then decided they could do it better. Marvin began designing the clothes with Helene and contracting the manufacturing in Mexico. At that point, they shortened the name to what now is Chico's FAS, Inc. Everyone at Chico's worked as a team, and a family atmosphere thrived.
It wasn't long before Chico's opened its second store in 1985 on Captiva Island, Florida and quickly followed with more. News spread fast about this wonderful Company offering three special commodities: exclusively designed, private-label clothing, amazing personal service, and a warm, boutique atmosphere. This unique and successful mix brought avid, loyal followers.
By 1992 Chico's had about 60 stores, including franchises, which helped fuel the expansion of Company-owned stores. In March of 1993, Chico's became a public Company, trading on the NASDAQ as CHCS. Eight years later, in April 2001, Chico's was invited to trade on the New York Stock Exchange as CHS.
In 1994, Chico's 107,000 square foot World Headquarters was built in Fort Myers, Florida. As we grew, so did our headquarters. In 2001, our unique facility expanded to 139,000 square feet. In 2002, Chico's purchased a 235,000 square foot distribution center with offices in Winder, Georgia. The opening of this facility in December 2002 allowed Chico's product to quickly and efficiently get to our stores in order to better service our customer.
In 2003, Chico's FAS, Inc. acquired White House|Black Market – a privately-held specialty retailer of private-label women's apparel and accessories. Founded in 1985, the first White House|Black Market store opened in Baltimore's Harborplace as a small boutique carrying white – and only white – clothing and accessories for women. The first several years of the Company featured only stores selling all white merchandise. In 1995 the color black was added in a store called "Black Market." Then in 1997 both colors were combined under one roof in what is known as "White House|Black Market." The White House has become a well known brand that tells a story not just about the two classic colors of white and black, but speaks to a lifestyle and youthful attitude for confident women from their 30s to 50s who value striking, eye-catching, feminine, day to dinner apparel.
In 2004, Chico's opened its first intimate apparel stores, Soma by Chico's. Soma extends Chico's product line and more completely wardrobes the customer. The Soma product is inspired by and designed for the Chico's customer. Chico's also expanded its distribution center facility in Winder during 2004 and again two years later.
In 2006, Chico's purchased an additional 200,000 square feet of office space adjacent to its Headquarters for the purposes of expansion. That same year, an adjacent call center to the Winder distribution center was opened to service its direct-to-consumer business for its Chico's, White House | Black Market and Soma Intimates brands.
In 2009, in order to expand its facilities in Winder, Chico's purchased a 300,000-square-foot building close to the current distribution center that will house an additional distribution facility.
Though we have unique brands, we share common vision and values. Chico's FAS, is constantly evolving and growing; always striving to meet the needs of our customers and associates.