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6 reasons I’ll be sad to see Belk get sold

Belk department store at South Park mall
Belk department store at South Park mall

When I was growing up, my mom and I would go shopping at the mall. A lot.


Or buy a Polo shirt if you could swing the price.

So I must admit that I’m a bit teary that Belk is positioning itself for purchase. After all these years, this Charlotte-based, family-owned business is poised to dissolve its Southern roots. A private equity firm out of New York is sniffing around.

Even if you’re more a Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus department store fan, here are 6 surprising facts about Belk that should make you at least appreciate them:

(1) All in the family: Belk is the largest family-owned department store chain in the U.S. with 297 stores. It’s now in its third generation of Belk family ownership.

William Henry Belk opened the first store (called New York Racket) in 1888 in Monroe. He was a colorful guy who wrote his own newspaper ads and used the slogan “Cheap Goods Sell Themselves.”

Belk founder William Henry Belk opened the first store in Monroe in 1888. COURTESY OF BELK COURTESY OF BELK COURTESY OF BELK

(2) Movers and shakers: John Belk was Charlotte’s mayor from 1968-77. Yes, the same John Belk that the loop around uptown is named after. You’ll also find the Belk name on the annual college football bowl played at Bank of America Stadium and on UNCC’s business school.

Davie Hinshaw

(3) Star struck: Belk hired the Season 12 winner of Project Runway, Dom Streater, to design a line exclusively for the department store chain. It also agreed to carry local reality star Emily Maynard’s line of jewelry. And of course, Cam Newton hawks his own line there.

(4) Big eats: The SouthPark Belk once had Barclay’s Cafeteria on the third floor and it was extremely popular with older Charlotteans. The store shuttered it in 2000.

CAFE 1_3
4/16/00 Jinks Covington (front), Janice Estwawik (center), and Joe Estwawik at back get their Sunday afternoon meal at Barclays Cafeteria in Belks at the South park mall. Barclay's is closing to make more space for clothes and the Cafeteria regulars are very upset about it. Bayete Ross-Smith/staffBayete Ross-Smith/staff BAYETE ROSS-SMITH

(5) Belkie Bear:  eBay mascot version Facebook page

(6) All for You!: This was Belk’s slogan from 1967 to 2010. This was its logo for decades. That’s commitment. In 2010, the chain updated, with the new logo Modern. Southern. Style.

A bag features the new Belk logo.BELK
A bag features the new Belk logo.BELK Belk