I visited Primark and can see why the European chain has been described as the 'Costco for clothes'

  • I visited Primark, an Irish fast-fashion chain, in New York in January.

  • I thought it was only a clothing store, so I was shocked to see luggage, beauty, and home goods.

  • Now I understand why more and more Primarks are opening around the US.

One of the biggest retail chains across Europe is Primark. In the United Kingdom alone, there are 191 locations.

And now it's making its impact stateside.

The first US location opened in 2015 in Boston. Almost 10 years later, there are 27 stores, according to its website, but Primark aims to open 60 by 2026. It recently announced plans to open stores in Florida, Texas, and Tennessee, The Tennessean reported in February.

In total, the chain, which was founded in Ireland in 1969, has 400 locations across the globe, with a goal of 530 stores by 2026, according to the brand.

I love a good discount store, like Dollar Tree or Five Below, but I didn't know what to expect from Primark — which analysts previously likened to Costco for clothes to Business Insider — except that my friends who studied abroad in London during college loved its low prices.

New York's Roosevelt Field location opened in November 2022, and spans 44,290 square feet of retail space across two floors, Long Island Business News reported.

I decided to visit in January after the holiday rush. Here's what I thought of the experience.

I've never been to Primark before, but when I heard a location had opened in my local mall in Garden City, New York, I had to check it out.

primark storefront nyc
Primark at Roosevelt Field.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

I was immediately struck by how large the space was. I found out later that it had taken over a Bloomingdale's Furniture location.

first floor of primark long island
The first floor of Primark.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

When I walked in, I was presented with these mesh baskets, which were larger than the typical store basket.

primark tote
A basket at Primark.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

But I opted for a wheeled basket, something I'd first encountered at Five Below and appreciated.

primark wheeled cart
Basket with wheels.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

This Primark has two floors, with the first floor containing Womens, Home, Lingerie, Beauty, and the cashier, among other things. Mens and Kids are on the second floor.

primark floor map
The floors.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

One of the first displays I saw was a collaboration between Primark and Paula Echevarría, a Spanish model and actress.

paula echevarria primark
Primark and Paula Echevarría.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

The jeans from this collab, which had elastic waistbands, were $22. The full collection includes cardigans, coats, leggings, joggers, hats, and more.

paula echevarria jeans primark
Jeans.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Source: Primark

The section behind the collab displayed accessories. I spotted jewelry, socks, scarves, scrunchies, and other items.

accessories primark
Accessories.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

I was drawn to the baseball caps, which were just $4. I decided to snag a white one, similar to a $58 Alo Yoga Off-Duty cap I lost last summer.

primark hats
Hats.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Crossbody bags were on sale for $6, down from $11. This clearance sign became a familiar sight.

primark belt bags
Crossbody bags.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Primark manages to keep its prices so low partly because it relies on volume sales and doesn't have an e-commerce business. You can browse items online but have to shop in-store.

bags primark
Backpacks.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider

I thought this was a solid dupe for some of the more expensive crossbody bags out there. I already have a couple, so I didn't purchase it.

belt bag selfie
Trying a crossbody bag.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

I also saw a sequined bag from the Rita Ora x Primark collab, which was released in September and consists of "169 pieces across knitwear, denim, tailoring, casualwear and outerwear, along with accessories and shoes," Women's Wear Daily reported.

rita ora primark
Rita Ora x Primark.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Source: Women's Wear Daily

I also spotted the first of many items from the Disney at Primark collection, including accessories featuring the character Stitch from "Lilo & Stitch."

disney primark stitch
Disney products.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

There were also bags covered with Donald Duck. One of the mini bags cost $12.

donald duck bags primark
Disney products.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

I headed across the floor to the Travel Shop, which displayed suitcases and travel accessories, like $8 neck pillows.

primark travel shop
The Travel Shop.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

I had no idea Primark sold luggage — and moderately priced luggage to boot. These were $65.

primark luggage selection
Luggage.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

I saw Stitch again on a $60 suitcase. At this point, I needed to know what the obsession was with Stitch. It turns out this is a new collection released in January, but the first Stitch collection was released in 2016.

stitch luggage primark
Stitch luggage.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Source: License Global

And there he was again, on eye masks, small backpacks, neck pillows, and other small accessories.

stitch travel accessories
Disney products.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

In the technology section, I saw a Stitch AirTag holder, which I purchased for $3. There were also phone cases, chargers, and AirPod cases.

electronics accessories primark
Tech accessories.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Next to the travel items was the home section, which had pillows, glassware, and other home goods.

home section
Home.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

There was also a huge fake-flowers selection. One of the smaller bouquets cost just $2.

flowers selection
Fake flowers.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

This display held room sprays and candles.

candles spray primark
Home accessories.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

And no section would be complete without a giant display of Stitch goodies. There was no Lilo to be found, though.

disney home stuff primark
Disney products.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

The middle of the store was dedicated to clothes. This section, labeled "Tailoring," was selling $7 blouses. Some items seemed thin, like they might rip, but that's not uncommon for fast fashion — if I wanted office-appropriate attire without Loft or J. Crew prices, I'd check here.

primark tailoring selection
Tailoring.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Behind it was this display marked "Jersey," which contained basic sweaters and sweatshirts made of jersey that were priced at $12. Again, they felt a little thin, but they were soft to the touch.

primark jersey section
Jersey.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

There were graphic T-shirts all over the place. The "Harry Potter" one on the bottom left was $14.

graphic tees primark
Graphic T-shirts.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

There was also a ton of "Barbie" merch, like this $26 oversize tee.

barbie primark
A "Barbie" shirt.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

The Disney love continued throughout the store.

mulan disney primark
"Mulan" shirts.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

There was a comprehensive selection of "Lion King" pajamas and accessories.

lion king primark
"The Lion King" products.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

I moved on to Leisurewear, which seemed to take inspiration from basics found at higher-priced places like Alo Yoga or Lululemon.

leisurewear primark
Leisurewear.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

I came across this cozy $20 sweater. It was warm and I liked the color — I snapped it up.

sweatshirt primark selfie
Another mirror selfie.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

The Activewear section included workout gear like leggings and sports bras, which were $15. But there didn't seem to be a large size range in this section from what I could see.

ahtletic wear primark
Activewear.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

There were many Valentine's Day items in the adjoining Lingerie section. It reminded me of Victoria's Secret.

lingerie primark
Lingerie.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

I saw different types of shapewear, as well.

shapewear primark
Shapewear.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

As I continued my large loop of the first floor, Beauty was up next. The foundation I found was $7, while bronzer was just $2, which shocked me. Not even drugstore makeup is that cheap.

beauty section primark
Beauty.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

But some items were broken, like this eyeshadow palette. I found a similar issue during a recent visit to TJ Maxx. I'll stick to Sephora and Ulta for my makeup needs.

eyeshadow broken primark
A broken blush.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider

The last section before I headed upstairs was Shoes.

shoe section
Shoes.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

The sneaker dupes were solid. These Nike-esque black-and-white sneakers and the Converse look-alikes were both $10.

shoe section primark
Sneakers.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Primark also sold a cheaper version of the trendy cowboy boots I see everywhere on the streets of New York. These were just $30.

cowboy boots primark
Cowboy boots.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

I tried them on, but I didn’t love the fit. However the quality was nicer than I was expecting for $30.

cowboy boots at primark
A cowboy selfie.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

These boots, which are similar to Uggs, were on sale for $5.

ugg dupes primark
Boots.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Before I spent too much time ogling shoes I didn't need, I headed upstairs. I don't have kids, so I didn't look too closely, but there seemed to be a large selection of kids' clothing and shoes.

kids section primark
Kids.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

There was also a Baby section.

baby primark section
Baby.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Also upstairs was the Mens section. I spotted a $16 shirt and $6 shorts — apparently, it's still summer in the Primark Mens section, even though it was a chilly January day.

mens section primark
Mens section.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Collared shirts were priced at $14 each.

mens section primark
Collared shirts.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

It was time for me to try items on. A mirror told me the store had free WiFi, which I appreciated — this mall has famously terrible phone service.

selfie primark
Free WiFi.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

The changing rooms weren't fully separated by gender. There was a women's section but also a space for any gender.

primark changing rooms
The changing rooms.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

There were multiple mirrors in the stall.

changing room
Inside a fitting room.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

I tried on a few things — cargo pants that were too small, a dress that bunched weirdly, a trench coat that was too big and too dark — but I only liked this $20 cropped Giants hoodie.

giants sweatshirt primark
A Giants sweatshirt I bought.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

There were registers with cashiers, but I preferred to use the self-checkout feature.

primark self checkout
Self-checkout.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Before I left, I found a trench coat I liked way more than the first one I tried. This one was lighter and shorter. I ended up going back and purchasing it for $42.

trench coat primark
One last selfie.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Overall, I spent $85 on two sweatshirts, a trench coat, and the AirTag holder. For a comparison, a trench coat at Abercrombie alone costs $160.

self checkout selfies
Checking out.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

I was pleased with my Primark experience. It's a one-stop shop for anyone looking for discounted clothes, accessories, and home goods. I could come here and get anything I needed, for the most part. I'll be coming back soon.

the primark edit
The Primark Edit.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

Read the original article on Business Insider