Petaluma, Calif.

Last month lululemon athletica opened a store in Durham, N.C. Three weeks later Athleta, Gap's answer to Lululemon, opened in the same mall. The pattern of lululemon opening a store only to see an Athleta shop pop up nearby is happening nationwide as Gap mounts the most potent threat so far to the Vancouver-based yoga powerhouse. Athleta is borrowing from its rivals playbook, then undercutting the chain on price. Like lululemon, Athleta is hooking up with local yoga instructors and sponsoring classes such as Mommy & Me Yoga. 

Yoga devotee Sara Walther wears a pair of Lululemon yoga pants with a Athleta convertible top to practice yoga at Moksha Yoga Center in Chicago. (Heather Charles/Chicago Tribune file photo) Maps Athleta, the trendy women’s activewear catalog, plans to open its first Chicago store on April 4, the retailer announced in an email to customers. The 3,800-square-foot store, at 3415 N. Southport Ave. in Lakeview, is part of owner Gap Inc.’s campaign to move the online merchant into brick-and-mortar stores. Gap bought the Petaluma, Calif.-based company in 2008 for $150 million and pegged it as a growth vehicle. Athleta

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