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Hollister Ordered To Make Surf Shack Porch Storefronts Wheelchair-Accessible By 2017

A Colorado judge orders Abercrombie & Fitch's Hollister chain to modify the stepped entrances at about half of its stores by Jan. 1, 2017.

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Hollister Co., Abercrombie & Fitch's cheaper, surf-inspired chain, may have some beach cleanup ahead of it.

A Colorado judge on Friday ordered the brand to modify its porch-like storefronts that feature steps by Jan. 1, 2017, affecting 231 stores, or about half of its 481 U.S. locations.

Hollister will have three options to make the stores inclusionary for disabled guests: it may level the steps, install ramps, or convert the porches to visual displays only, according to a statement from the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition and Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center.

The lawsuit, which contended the entrances violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, was brought in 2009 on behalf of Colorado customers. Hollister and the plaintiffs were unable to reach a settlement in recent months, leading to the judge's Friday order. Abercrombie may still appeal the decision.

The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Abercrombie, for its part, says that its stores with steps have two accessible, though less visible, entries flanking the elevated entrance. The company argued that the raised porch entrances were meant to give the stores the aesthetic of a Southern California surf shack and represent a "significant" part of the stores' marketing and branding efforts.

The retailer said in May that construction to comply with the court's injunction may cost $8 million to $9 million and that each of the entry doors at issue would need to be closed for 7 to 10 days, hurting store traffic and sales.

Sapna Maheshwari is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Maheshwari reports on retail and e-commerce.

Contact Sapna Maheshwari at sapna.maheshwari@buzzfeed.com.

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