Swedish retailer H&M opened in Boulder Thursday to a crowd of more than 150 shoppers -- some who arrived hours before the store's noon opening.

Hennes & Mauritz AB, which does business as H&M, signed a lease earlier this year to open an 18,000-square-foot store at 1755 29th St. at the Twenty Ninth Street mall in Boulder.

To snag the first spot in line for a retailer that offered gift cards ranging in value of $10 to $300 to the first 100 shoppers, Longmont resident Chad Fogelberg arrived at 4 in the morning. Fogelberg, 29, attended H&M store openings in Denver and Broomfield, but was not the first to arrive then.

"It's probably going to be really worth it," he said. "I love H&M."

The retailer known for its fast fashion clothing -- inexpensive versions of current and trendy designer apparel -- has had a successful string of store openings in Colorado.

A line of 900 people wrapped around the Denver Pavilions store when it opened in late 2011 and more than 200 people waited outside the FlatIron Crossing H&M on its opening day in August 2012.

Retail analyst Jon Schallert, of the Longmont-based The Schallert Group Inc., said he believes H&M is pulling in better-than-expected sales.

"Frankly, they surprised me," Schallert wrote in an email to the Camera. "They have drawn a group of super-loyal customers to their store with very little traditional advertising, and their most rabid fans love that store."

Although H&M operates a store at Broomfield's FlatIron Crossing, which is run by the same mall operator as Twenty Ninth Street, enough demand should exist for both locations, he added.

"It's all a numbers game," he said. "If a store is doing the sales, they'll keep it there. I'd say that there are consumers who would prefer to shop Twenty Ninth Street versus FlatIron Crossing and vice versa.

"It's a youth-infused marketplace and I doubt if they've maximized the potential sales of the area."

With the Boulder store's grand opening and that of a store at Colorado Mills shopping center in Lakewood, H&M increased its Colorado presence to six stores. That number will grow to seven by the end of the month with the addition of a new store in Colorado Springs, said Marlo Tablante, an H&M spokeswoman.

The demographics of the city -- home to the University of Colorado -- were appealing to the Swedish retailer that is adding more than 350 stores this year, she said.

"This is a really important market for us," Tablante said of Boulder. " ... We're really careful with our expansion and our strategy."

The crowd awaiting the Boulder store had a mix of men and women of varying ages, but the majority of shoppers were women in their late teens and 20s.

University of Colorado freshmen Sophie Reskin and Lauren Wilder, both 18, waited since 6 a.m. to grab gift cards, get plenty of sweaters and rush out so Reskin could catch her 12:30 p.m. class.

"We're not used to the cold weather," Wilder said.

Newlyweds Micah and Joe Kerns said they were happy to have one of their favorite retailers -- a clothier they say strikes a "perfect balance" between style and price -- closer to home. They previously drove to Denver and to Broomfield to shop.

"Being a Boulderite, it's not that efficient," said Joe Kerns, 28.

As the line of H&M shoppers grew, Mike Farny, owner of Spooners frozen yogurt shop, took the opportunity to dole out coupons for his neighboring store.

"It's exactly the crowd that would come to Spooners," he said, adding that H&M will serve as an "anchor" and draw people to the mall.

H&M combined with the recent arrival Five Guys Burgers and Fries and future tenant Trader Joe's has breathed new life into the northwest portion of Twenty Ninth Street, he said.

Contact Camera Business Writer Alicia Wallace at 303-473-1332 or wallacea@dailycamera.com