Happy Friday everyone!
Two of the most successful department stores in Charlotte history are undoubtedly Ivey’s and Belk’s. In Fact Friday 30, we highlighted the former. This week, early Belk’s history…
The Belk retail store chain began in 1888 when William Henry Belk opened up a dry goods business in Monroe, NC, a small town about 20 miles southeast of Charlotte. In 1895 he and his brother opened up a store on East Trade St. By 1900 the Belk’s had opened up four one-story storefronts along East Trade, and by 1910 their business had grown so profitable that they opened up a new 3-story structure alongside them. Belk Brothers cultivated a successful formula of selling quality merchandise for cash only, with a no-questions-asked return policy. These innovations and their tradition of treating customers with respect, regardless of financial status, led to its increasing prosperity. This photograph from 1910 celebrates the opening of the new addition, with the Belk employees posing outside.
The Belk’s chain continued to prosper and expand throughout the South and despite its recent sale to private equity firm, Sycamore Partners, is now the nation’s largest privately owned department store. The Charlotte store acquired the nearby Efird’s department store in the 1950’s; in 1989 both buildings were demolished, along with an entire city block on East Trade and North Tryon streets, for the construction of the $300 million North Carolina National Bank (NCNB) complex. NCNB eventually became Nation’s Bank and merged with Bank of America, which is now the second-biggest bank in the United States by assets and is one of Charlotte’s most important institutions.
The former site of the Belk Brothers storefronts is now the world headquarters of the bank and home to the Bank of America Corporate Center Tower, arguably the most familiar and striking part of Charlotte’s skyline.
Until next week!
Email me at chris@704Shop.com if you have interesting Charlotte facts you’d like to share or just to provide feedback!
Information taken from:
Charlotte: Then & Now, 2013, Brandon D. Lunsford
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass