Belk plans to close two of its department stores in 2018. Could those plans impact any of the retailer’s three Midlands locations?
According to a Belk spokesman, the answer is a definitive no. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any changes to the stores.
“It’s business as usual in Columbia,” said Andy Izquierdo, vice president of community and social impact.
He confirmed that Belk is closing two department stores, one in Morgantown, W.Va. and the other in Atlanta. Those closures will result in the loss of a combined 183 jobs between the stores.
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“Belk decided to close those stores for strategic reasons. It’s in the best interest of Belk in the long term,” said Izquierdo, adding he’s not aware of any other plans to close additional Belk stores.
That’s good news for employees and customers of the three Midlands Belk department stores. Belk has locations at Richland Mall, Columbiana Centre and the Village at Sandhill.
Not only will the three stores remain open, Izquierdo said they are important locations for Belk.
“Our Columbia customers are very loyal, and we’re very loyal to our Columbia customers,” he said. “That’s a big deal for us. We’re happy to be in the community.”
Belk, based out of Charlotte, also has stores in Aiken, Camden, Orangeburg and Sumter.
While there are no plans to close any of the three Midlands locations, it is possible one of the area stores could get a facelift.
Belk says it will renovate 25 of its 294 stores next year. Izquierdo couldn’t rule out the possibility that one of the Midlands stores might be in line for the refurbishing that will include new carpet and new dressing rooms, among other amenities.
“We have not finalized which locations might be on the remodeled list,” Izquierdo said of plans that might be completed in the next month or so.
It could be announced at the Belk Bowl, which will be held at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium on Dec. 29.
Izquierdo said that’s when Belk will launch its Social Impact Program, which is designed to give back to the communities where its department stores are located. That includes a partnership with Habitat for Humanity and plans to build a house.
“We’re putting our money where our mouth is to support these communities,” Izquierdo said.
Belk will also put money in its customer’s pockets on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. It will give away $2 million in gift cards to entice customers to do their shopping in person, as opposed to online.
The giveaways will be available at all of Belk’s stores – including the Richland Mall, Columbiana Centre and the Village at Sandhill locations.
“We’re excited about the holiday season,” Izquierdo said. “It gives us a chance to connect with our customers with a great gift card giveaway.”
It’s also a chance to try and stem the tide of problems brick-and-mortar stores are facing across the country. While two stores are closing their doors for good, Belk says it actually has plans to expand.
It opened two new stores in Kentucky and Georgia this fall, and Izquierdo said it plans to open another in Maryland next year. He said Belk remains in a “growth mode.”
Belk’s big holiday shopping plans
On Thanksgiving Day, Belk will give away $1 million in gift cards to customers, including to the first 250 in line. There will be at least one $1,000 winner in every store, Belk said.
On Black Friday, Belk will give away another $1 million in scratch off cards. Belk said each store will give away scratch off cards to at least the first 150 customers in line.
Belk will be open on Thanksgiving, from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. There won’t be much of a turnaround before the stores reopen on Black Friday at 6 a.m., and remain open until 10 p.m.