COLUMBIA, SC — Belk will expand its presence at Columbiana Centre, moving into a portion of the space being vacated by Sears.
The Charlotte-based department store chain will open a standalone men’s apparel and shoe store in less than half of the former Sears – about 50,000 square feet. It’s still unclear what will go into the remaining 58,000 square feet.
Two weeks ago, Sears said it would close down its Columbiana store and auto-care center in early March.
That decision opened the door for Belk to undertake its $6.1 million expansion and remodeling, which will increase the department store’s presence at the mall to 242,000 square feet.
Renovations will begin in October with an opening date set for March 2015, Belk said in a release.
The move will allow the current Belk store to expand other departments – including its home, kids and women’s apparel section. The remodeling of Belk’s current space is set to be completed by the summer of 2015.
“Men’s fashion in the last 10 years has really come to the forefront,” said Marianne Bickle, retailing professor at the University of South Carolina. “Men are going after how to look fashionable, not necessarily a coat and tie, it could be how to wear the right khakis and hoodie or polo.”
Belk is calling its Columbiana store a flagship. A spokeswoman said that refers to the size of the store – it will be bigger than most department stores in this area – and the premier brands that will be offered there.
“That Belk store is really doing a fabulous job,” Bickle said.
A recent remodeling at the Columbiana Belk brought in more designer merchandise, such as Kate Spade and a large section of Lilly Pulitzer women’s apparel.
The department store appears to be shifting from a middle-market retailer to a higher end market, Bickle said. “Flagship stores have always held panache.”