Belk store reopening
At first glance, the line that snaked down the entire length of sidewalk between Belk and the end of the shopping center’s property edge in Waynesville Commons early Wednesday morning looked like a “Black Friday” crowd.
The occasion that prompted hundreds of shoppers to stand in line, however, was the grand re-opening of Belk. Some spent the night in the parking lot to ensure they would be first in line for the gift cards and other perks offered to early shoppers.
In addition to bargains, Belk shoppers found a sparkling, new store twice as large as the former one off Russ Avenue. The shopping options included a few new lines, but mostly offered more depth than what was available previously, said Terry Rissland, the store manager. New offerings included a fine jewelry section, several new fashion jewelry lines, the Ralph Lauren Polo section in menswear, plus an expanded shoe department takes up 10 percent of the store’s gross square footage.
The store, said Brian Eaddy, senior vice president of Belk’s northern region, employs more than 100 at this point, and more personnel are being hired.
“We added 35,000 square feet and hired an additional 45 employees over what we had in the old store,” Eaddy said, noting the Waynesville store workforce will peak at around 145 during the holiday season.
Eaddy has had a busy fall with 30 stores to oversee in the Carolinas and Georgia. The Waynesville store is the only one with cosmetic counters featuring the newest installation featuring open selling. This marketing concept includes getting rid of the former counters and drawers where products were stored, and instead displaying products are on the aisle where shoppers can better study their descriptions to decide which ones meet their needs. There are still sales associates to help, and during the first week the new store is open, a team of four specialists with Estee Lauder are helping out at the new store.
The open selling concept is applied throughout the store, which doesn't have a single fixture or item that came from the space near Ingle's recently vacated.
"This is a brand-new space and we wanted to start over fresh with everything," Rissland said.
During the Wednesday grand opening, the Ross Brothers entertained waiting crowds with their upbeat bluegrass music, as Belkie bear danced and waved. During a ribbon-cutting ceremony, local dignitaries, store officials and representatives with the shopping center's owner, CB&L Associates Development, were on hand.
The opening included a $5,000 check presentation to REACH of Haywood County, a donation that shows the company's commitment to both women and the community, Rissland said.
Matt Phillips of CB&L, called the shopping center in Waynesville one of his favorite projects, which is no small statement considering the Chattanooga, Tennessee-based company owns 130 or so shopping centers with 90 or so in the southeast, including the Asheville Mall.
The anchor tenants, Belk, Michael's and PetSmart, complement each other, he said, as do the mix with other leasees, Rack Room Shoes, U.S. Cellular, Smart Cuts and a nail salon that is not yet named.
Though he spoke of the beautiful mountainous setting for the property that adjoins WalMart, his favorite part about the project is that it's "100 percent leased. That speaks volumes about new businesses wanting to locate here. It's a pat on the back for everybody."
"The town of Waynesville has been great to work with and everything went smoothly," Phillips said of the project that has 127,000 square feet of retail space.
Rissland said shoppers can expect more and expanded lines in the future.
"Every woman wants to look good, however she interprets it," Rissland said "and we want to dress her head to toe. Then we want her to shop for her husband, too."
Store hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.