Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Many Faces of Belk, Monroe, North Carolina

UPDATED with new pictures and text (3/2/08)

The twentieth century was a time of major changes for American retail. Simple downtown dry goods stores evolved into full line department stores and then moved to the suburbs.

One excellent example of this is the Belk in Monroe, North Carolina. Below you can see the one hundred year evolution of what was a small dry goods store (in 1888)to a typical small town department store (in 1950) into a modern regional destination (by 1960) that eventually relocated to a regional mall (in 1979) to capture even more sales, and is still successful today.

Many thanks for Patrick Richardson for providing most of these historic photos.

Belk, Monroe, North Carolina. Original "New York Racket" dry goods store, late 1800s. (Courtesy Pat Richardson)

Belk, Monroe, North Carolina. Exterior on sale day, July 19, 1934. (Courtesy Pat Richardson)

Belk, Monroe, North Carolina. renovated exterior, 1940s. (Courtesy Pat Richardson)

Belk, Monroe, North Carolina. 1950's shoe salesman Hadley Helms. (Courtesy Pat Richardson)

Belk, Monroe, North Carolina. 1950's saleswoman. (Courtesy Pat Richardson)

Belk, Monroe, North Carolina. circa 1955. (Belk, Inc.)

Belk, Monroe, North Carolina. Harvest Sale w/ William Henry Belk enjoying the proceedings, 1950. (Courtesy Pat Richardson)

Belk, Monroe, North Carolina. Remodeled exterior, sometime in the late 1950s. (Courtesy Pat Richardson)

Belk, Monroe, North Carolina. A typical shopping scene from the 1950s. (Courtesy Pat Richardson)

Belk, Monroe Mall, Monroe, North Carolina. Exterior entrance, 11/2/06. (Pat Richardson)

Previously on LiveMalls
Belk, Monroe Mall
The Belk Archive


  1. So what happened to the downtown store physically..is the building still there? What's it used for now?

    And if I recall correctly, this store still carries the number 1.

  2. The building is still there. I believe it is currently a law office. Looks about the same as when it was a Belk. The back top of the building still has "Belk" painted across the brick. Downtown Monroe hasn't changed much at all through the years--it is a very well preserved downtown. The store is still Belk 001.

  3. The 1960's Monroe exterior is a real classic. I've never seen it called "Belk's" before.

    Belk is an impressive company - they definitely seem to be in much stronger shape than most of the remaining department store competition.

  4. Thanks for the comments, guys. there's more pictures of Monroe to come, when I get a chance to post them :-)

    Dave: It was signed as and called "Belk's" from at least the 1920s through 1968. The late '60s saw a massive reimaging campaign that created the original "Big B" logo and formally dropped the apostrophe.

  5. Interesting pictures of the Monroe Belk over the years, thanks for sharing those! It also interests me too that they once called their stores Belk's, as it reminds me a bit of back when all the J.C. Penney stores were instead called Penney's.

    Wonder if that gave J.C. Penney the idea to drop the Penney's name(as I remember reading somewhere that they dropped that name in '71). Hmmm.....

  6. Both stores went through a some pretty heavy rebranding efforts in that era, but I doubt Balk and JCPenney's efforts were interrelated.