August 02, 2006


Saks selling Parisian to Belk for $285M

I have no idea how this will all turn out, but I still have a sense of sadness about it. In the past, Birmingham was always just big enough to have some high quality, regional chains based here (Yeildings, Loveman's, Pizitz, McRae's, and Bruno's in the food biz and Marks-Fitzgerald in the furniture trade), and for so many years Parisian was the best--good quality merchandise and the best service. But when they got big enough to make folks from outside the area take interest, money started changed hands awfully fast. After the Saks deal a few years back, service began to take a dive at Parisian, and I can't see how being sold to Belk will make it any better--especially when Belk already took over their closest former competitor, McRae's.

Also of interest is that the new shopping center in Trussville was scheduled to have both a Belk and a Parisian--I wonder if both brands will still be included in the mix?

UPDATE: Ahh, I see. Parisian name to disappear

The new owners of Parisian plan to phase out the department store name, which has a rich history in Birmingham. [...]

A company official said plans call for converting Parisian stores to the Belk name in the third quarter of 2007.

Individual decisions will have to be made regarding what to do in instances where both a Belk and a Parisian are in the same mall or shopping center. [...]

Posted by Terry Oglesby at August 2, 2006 02:24 PM

The Parisian name is going away and they are consolidating multiple stores in one mall.

I don't like Belk so I will not be shopping there. Kind of sad about Parisian since I did shop there.

Posted by: megabeth at August 2, 2006 02:43 PM

I just saw that and updated the post. Hard to believe, but none of the big old-line retailers who used to exist in town will remain.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 2, 2006 02:55 PM

Where can you shop anymore?

I wasn't enthralled by McCrae's. I haven't even visited our local Belk, yet.

Posted by: Janis at August 2, 2006 03:05 PM

Well, there's still plenty of places, but so many of them are part of big national chains--and there just doesn't seem to be as much sense of local pride or something as there was back when the people who owned the stored lived here. There are still some small individual local stores that still have good service, but they aren't likely to be able to compete on price like the bigger local concerns could do.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 2, 2006 03:15 PM

I'm really sorry to hear this too; for some reason I have always shopped at Parisian and it just won't be the same. Belks' may be perfectly OK but I have never even set foot in one that I can recall.

But the days of big-name retail are pretty much over--look at what is happening to Marshall Fields' in Chicago: being converted to a Macy's, which in itself is possibly not as prestigious as it once was.

Posted by: Stan at August 2, 2006 03:58 PM

Oh well. Thank goodness there's still Wal-Mart.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 2, 2006 04:04 PM

I have some insight from a young adult female demographic (in other words, someone who spends too much on clothes).

Parisian is/was a bit trendy for me, but it is middle/higher end and sometimes I found clothes to buy there. Belk is lower end like McCrae's. When McCrae's was around, I always thought that someone's old grandma was picking out and ordering the clothes for the women's and junior's departments.

In general, though, department stores have failed miserably when it comes to selling clothes that people want to buy. That's why you are seeing the consolidation and closings of many of them.

My shopping sprees for clothing are done in a rush most of the time, instead of like how other women shop (as a hobby). I skip the department stores entirely because I want to find clothes that look good and fit as quickly as possible.

Posted by: megabeth at August 2, 2006 04:10 PM

You also have to figure that department stores take a hit because of things like housewares--no use paying 15 bucks more for a brand of coffeemaker or something that you could just as easily get at a discount retailer.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 2, 2006 04:17 PM

Since Belk is a regional chain with strong local roots the styles and quality will vary. I don’t think you can categorize the entire chain. The Belks in our area is not at the low end. However, some I have seen in other places are more like Pennys and some worse. It seems they tend to be much like what they have replaced.

Posted by: jim at August 2, 2006 04:30 PM

Department stores? Haven't you folks heard of a little thing we Yankees like to call the Internet? Mrs. gets 90% of her stuff online these days, what with generous return policies & all.

As for me, I never buy clothes if I can possibly help it. A wooly mammoth skin is usually enough for my tastes.

Posted by: skinnydan at August 3, 2006 09:13 PM

The what?

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 3, 2006 10:19 PM