Band not there, but One Direction fans still throng to Northbrook Court
Reece Page is the worldwide manager for the "1D World" stores. The new store opened Saturday at Northbrook Court, and only sells British pop group, "One Direction" merchandise. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 28, 2012 8:40AM
NORTHBROOK — Faith Garcia, 12, and Joselin Aguirre, 13, walked into the Northbrook Court store and cried.
Their friend Nina Villareal, 12, just barely held back the tears.
Their emotions were close to the surface after six hours of anticipation, waiting outside for the Saturday morning opening of the “pop-up store” featuring One Direction boy-band merchandise.
They walked in and it was just too much, too wonderful.
Dozens of other girls singing along with videos of “What Makes You Beautiful” and “One Thing” on big TVs in the middle of the store. T-shirts, posters, calendars and dolls fashioned after the members of the youthful quintet, the latest objects of youthful desire.
They entered a 2,800-square-foot room filled with people all the same age who loved the same five young men. And they loved them in a way that didn’t stop them from loving each other.
The Chicago girls had arrived at 3 a.m., and here it was 9:30 and they had never visited the portable toilets.
“I was too excited,” Aguirre said. She was smiling so hard, she said, her face hurt.
They filled up bags with merchandise and headed out the door.
“I’m going to be here every day,” Garcia said.
There are not that many days left. The United States’ first 1D World pop-up store will close Sept. 9, then it’s on to some other, yet-unchosen big town, like New York or LA, then more big towns, then smaller towns, as long as the band’s popularity lasts, U.S. project manager Will Stone said.
He stood outside the store, looking through the window wall, so he could protect his ears for awhile. Each time a new song came on the TVs, there was a thunderous chorus of squeals, if the mood was right.
“My two girls are too young for this,” he said of his own children, 2 and 6.
“This is their college tuition.”
It was stunning to watch. In an economy that encourages careful shopping, and in a high-end mall famous for attracting shoppers slow to buy, about 700 people came in and could not wait to get the money out of their pockets.
Parents handed children credit cards and wads of cash. Everything was in $10 increments, tax included, making it easy to count. Fifteen young women worked three identical counters, after helping to assemble them before the opening.
Rent-a-cops and public-relations people and 1D World reps ran a smooth cruise, letting in almost entirely happy people 100 at a time.
“The thing I don’t understand,” one marketer said, taking in all the excitement, “is that the band isn’t even here.”
It was more than that. Though pop-up stores have appeared only in Northbrook, Sydney and Toronto, much of the merchandise that was generating all the excitement is available on the Web.
A triumph for brick-and-mortar.
The girls in hot pursuit of product broke into song spontaneously on the parking lot and in the mall’s halls.
The sound of “All Night Long” — the single that beat all comers in 15 nations — rang sweetly outside the store, from the throats of a couple of dozen young women who had, indeed, been up all night long.
One of their dads, Brad Smith of Niles, stood at the edge of the chorus with a blank look on his face.
He had heard the song before, he said. Just a little bit.
“We went on vacation, and the kids had a CD player,” he said. “Six hours or so.”
So far, there is not much variety from the Brit band. They’ve only been around two years, and only have one album.
Inside the store, Ray Sanchez of Bensenville sat down on a window ledge while his daughter spent his money to the beat of high-decibel piped 1D music. He had his head in his hands.
“I like it,” he said. “I like it when it stops.”
In the hallway, Reece Paige, the world project director, was asked what set off the occasional paroxysms of shrieking.
“I’ll show you how it’s done,” he said, in his thick Aussie accent. He held a camera over his head and pointed it at the girls as he walked to the beginning of the line. As soon as they saw him and the lens, it sounded like the Ed Sullivan Show, 1964.
Paige often travels with One Direction. So he’s actually spoken with its members.
Girls frequently jumped out of line to have their pictures taken with him. He’s with the band.
As the girls excitedly walked down the hall, at last half of them raised cell-phone cameras above their heads and documented their own progress.
They are intellectually committed.
“There are rules,” said Caroline Rebodos, 14, of Algonquin.
She had the props to define the parameters of fellow Directionettes. She was one of the first eight girls to arrive, at around 9 p.m. Friday.
“You have to know all their first names. You have to know their family members. You have to know their height,” she said.
“You can have a favorite, but you can’t have a least favorite. You have to know every one of the words to every one of the songs.”
They all seem to know that, and much more.
Autumn Bascon-O’Connell, 13, of Glenview said she loved Zayn Malik: “He is my Bradford Bad Boy.”
Her girlfriends laughed. Everyone knows that, because there’s a YouTube video in which fellow bandmate Louis Tomlinson mimics Malik: “Yo, I’m a Bradford Bad Boy,” and the tease is replayed over and over for two minutes.
Everyone in the line seemed to know all the things the boys say about themselves in Internet video vignettes.
Tomlinson loves carrots. Malik used to be afraid of water, but he got over it. Liam Payne is afraid of spoons. Harry Styles has a cat named Dusty. Niall Horan is nicknamed Leprechaun, as he is the only one from Ireland, and he’s short (The others are English.).
Tomlinson has a pigeon doll named Kevin.
Kevin the artificial pigeon has his own Twitter page.
It is often confused with well over 50 fake Twitter pages for Kevin the fake pigeon.
So far, it’s working for them.
“As long as they keep putting out albums, they’ll survive,” Stone said. “Until something new comes, and is big enough to push them aside.”
Nellie Sepulveda of Romeoville has been through all of this before. She brought her youngest daughter to Northbrook, and brought her three older girls to see the Jonas Brothers. She herself liked the Osmonds.
One Direction’s “music is adorable,” she said. “It’s not abusive or violent. It’s about people liking each other. It’s typical teenager stuff. It’s refreshing.”
It’s all about young girls’ hormones, she added.
“Boys look for something physical. Girls are different. They look for fantasies,” she said.
“I’m freaking out,” Sara Korhonen, 15, said. “Because I love Harry so much.
“I need to tell him that I will marry him.”
“Can you write that I want to marry him? So he’ll see it?”
She turned back into the store.
“I want to buy everything.”