Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Belk, SouthPark mall, Charlotte, North Carolina. Fairview Road exterior entrance at night, circa 2003 (courtesy Pat Richardson)

Previously on LiveMalls
Belk, SouthPark
The Belk Archive

Also check out
Charlotte Eats (Pat's new blog)


  1. If all of their stores sold things remotely as nice as what they sell at SouthPark, then I wouldn't hate on Belk quite so much.

    Of course at their stores, even the ones that they claim are "A" stores, one step below Flagship, they continue to discontinue things that Parisian sold, one-by-one, hoping people won't notice. Note to Belk: Meeting Street suit seperates are NOT the same or as good as Austin Reed and Joseph Abboud tailored suits, despite what you have told your employees to say.

    Just more resons to go down the mall to Dillards, where they still sell nice things (and are even going more upscale here to try and capture the former Proffitt's and Parisian shoppers that are totally disillusioned with Belk).

  2. Belk does have some atrocities amongst its store locations. Perhaps they should spend a couple of years investing in some renovations and web marketing overhauls.

  3. Whoa, I don't remember seeing those funky colored lights anytime recently......was this some sort of special promotion time, Pat? (Or am I just oblivious?)


  4. We're starting off with a bang on this one :-)

    Brian: I hear what you're saying, but personally I don't really dig Dillard's anymore. Keep in mind, I'm always going to check them out when I'm at the mall, but they're feeling pretty stodgy these days.

    The only things I can recommend in Dillard's are some (and only some) of the men's designer sportswear and the big & tall department. The rest of the store has been private labeled (Murano? Please!) to death and isn't appreciably better than what Belk sells, but more expensive, plus, at its best stores, Belk throws in a layer of somewhat exclusive designer brands.

    Dillard's does tend to do a better job of late than Belk on interior design, but that's about it.

    Nitek: I agree with you. Belk needs to really invest in some better interior design and a website that doesn't suck.

    Matt: Those lights have been there since the 2002 renovation,but they're rarely ever on anymore. It's a shame; they really brighten up the place.

  5. I liked the exterior lights, but you couldn't see them from the main road and people walking into the store via the street level from the parking deck had a hard time seeing them. Only people walking into the store via the raised walkway had a nice view of the lights. The control box was in the shoe stockroom--I was always tempted to fool around with the color configuration. There were several options.

  6. I'm talking more about suits/dress shirts/ties. As of a couple of weeks ago when Belk dropped most of their suits in favor of seperates, (and I'm talking in Knoxville, Chattanooga, and one of the Atlanta locations, where I was on business) it's not even a competition anymore. Dillard's has a huge suit department in each of those stores, and they've just added Hickey Freeman and Hugo Boss in Chattanooga. And I have to give Dillard's Private label Daniel Cremuiex some serious props, they're made by Hart Shaffner and Marx and are extremely high quality.

    Where dress shirts and ties are concerned, Belk made a key error when they eliminated Abboud and put most of their eggs in the Hilfiger basket, which will be unavailable to them after Q1.

    As far as sportswear goes, it's really a push. Both stores sell Polo in huge volume, Dillard's just dropped Nautica and Claiborne. Belk is losing Hilfiger soon when it becomes a Macy's exclusive. It'll be interesting to see how they replace it, especially with how large of a presence TH had in many mid-level Belk stores.

    The Dillard's private labels are a mixed bag, when compared to Belk. Roundtree and Yorke is crap, but so is SaddleBred at Belk. Some of the WH Belk stuff is nice, especially the wool sweaters that were previously sold as Parisian Signature brand. Belk really doesn't have an answer to Daniel Cremiuex, although there is some crossover with WH Belk.

    All in all, I'm just dissapointed with Belk because they lied about how the "upscale" Belk that would replace Parisian would be stocked. When they first announced the transition, they invited Parisian suit customers to a reception/sale to talk about the changeover. Then, they took what they said, and have done the exact opposite, and have not kept the employees in the loop. They are just as surprised with the lower-level merchandise that they are getting in as the customers are. At the reception, they said we would still have Joseph Abboud suits, then they were replaced with the lower-level "Joe" line. After three months, they pulled the "Joe" suits and replaced them with a display of Hilfiger suit seperates. Then they took the entire Austin Reed suit collection off the racks and replaced it with one rack and two colors of Austin Reed seperates: tan and navy. They are still selling the leftover Hart suits, but haven't gotten any new ones in months.

  7. What nitwit renovates a store just six years ago, puts in those great lights and then doesn't bother to use them anymore? So sad and utterly obnoxious at the same time.

  8. Pat: They showed reasonably well from the street, especially on Fairview. It'd be interesting to see all those lights can do. The times I've seen them on, they've done rainbows and not much else.

    Brian: I haven't seen your local Belks in person, so I'll take your word on how the individual situations bot are working out.

    But I will say that Belk operated the Parisian stores under the Parisian nameplate for a year and more than likely the brands that were dropped were not selling in large enough numbers to justify their floorspace, regardless of nameplate.

    My local (ish) Dillard's tops out as Hart Schaffner & Marx and Austin Reed, and doesn't move that many suits these days. The market for tailored clothing and men's furnishings is rough overall, specialists of all stripes control most of the business, with department stores bringing up the rear.

    I do have some good news: Belk just hired one of Parisian's former top merchants and you should expect to see some positive changes, according to the article in today's DNR.

    Didi: The exterior lighting is inconsistent at this store. Most times everything's working, but often there are large sections of lighting that aren't on for a couple of days.

  9. As far as exterior lighting goes, I have just one thing to say for Belk. The "L" on one of their signs on the former Parisian in Knoxville burned out the week they installed it in July, and they have yet to fix it.

    Had a very positive conversation with the local Belk men's store manager. What they have is a very well managed store that was being bought for by buyers that had no idea what would sell in this market, because they threw out the men's data from Parisian and tried to apply Belk principles to the store.

    It has taken them a very short time to realize that isn't working here. The numbers are showing that, and they're hoping to get the go-ahead to make some changes to bring in some higher-end stuff, since the higher-end stuff is selling well, and the mid to lower-end isn't selling at all.

  10. What? Dillard's stodgy? Why, I was there just this past Sunday and they were playing "Ballroom Blitz" by Sweet over the intercom...It felt almost as weird as when I was in Ingles and heard an instrumental version of "Squeeze Box" by The Who.

    Brian: I'm guessing that you live in Knoxville and are talking about West Town. I think that store should be positioned pretty darn high -- the market there can take it. Overall I liked that mall when I was in school there. Hopefully things will come back up for that store.

    And of course, if you're talking about Chattanooga or somewhere else...then I guess I assumed incorrectly!

  11. Yeah, Matt, I'm talking Knoxville. I agree that it should be positioned pretty high (and the management agreed), based on where it ranked as Parisian. I was told it was their 5th highest store as far as revenue, behind two in BHam and two in ATL, but I'm not sure if that was overall, or one year, or what.

    Belk disagreed, and started to downmarket, with the exception of doubling the size of the Polo Department. Sales plummeted, and now management thinks they have convinced Belk to go more upscale at West Town, we shall see.

  12. Can we talk about this store...please? :-)

  13. I like THIS Belk.

    Wow, got this back on topic AND said something nice about Belk...