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Belk to Declare Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

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This seems like a massive blow to many of the area malls. In regards to the South Park location, isn’t Belk in a four story building? I wonder how anyone would be able to fill such a large location. 

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25 minutes ago, Third Strike said:

This seems like a massive blow to many of the area malls. In regards to the South Park location, isn’t Belk in a four story building? I wonder how anyone would be able to fill such a large location. 

They are just shedding debt and re-organizing under Chapter 11. They aren't shutting down all their stores and will continue to be open. If they declare Chapter 7 though, that kicks off full liquidation and shut down.

This is a warning sign Belk is not in good health though and even after they reorganize, they may fail a few years from now and shut down.

Edited by CLT2014
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I agree with what @CLT2014mentioned above concerning this reorganization as a warning sign of Belk's long term health.  The department store has been very fortunate over the years with weathering  the massive store closures and financial woes that a lot of their peers have experienced in this century.  Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic is just accelerating the evitable for a lot of brick and mortar retailers that the online retailing world has been doing since the late 1990's.

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I will admit, I don't know much about private equity  firms but when they are involved, it seems many retailers get run into the ground. You have to wonder if Belk would have been better off on its own. 

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2 hours ago, tozmervo said:

I've begun equating "private equity firms" with "squeeze it to death." Investors sitting in Manhattan or Chicago towers don't give a flying F about the business

Amen! 

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4 hours ago, tozmervo said:

I've begun equating "private equity firms" with "squeeze it to death." Investors sitting in Manhattan or Chicago towers don't give a flying F about the business

Probably true for most but have to credit the private equities that local company SnapAV has worked with.  I was an employee there 5 years and they were able to find growth mindset partners.  Especially with their acquiring of Control4 .  It's a bit unorthodox to see the smaller company being the one acquiring but that was due to their owners,  Which funny enough Tom Steyer is a partner at their current private equity.  One of the last thing billionaires need is someone sticking up for them but have to give credit where its due.

Edited by SouthEndCLT811

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On 1/27/2021 at 8:12 AM, rancenc said:

I agree with what @CLT2014mentioned above concerning this reorganization as a warning sign of Belk's long term health.  The department store has been very fortunate over the years with weathering  the massive store closures and financial woes that a lot of their peers have experienced in this century.  Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic is just accelerating the evitable for a lot of brick and mortar retailers that the online retailing world has been doing since the late 1990's.

...I don't think retail is dead per se, I think retail as we knew it is dead.   Smart people will figure out how to respond to change.  Humans are social animals who like to wander and cities that offer the most experiences - will be winners.  Belk should use downtown Charlotte as a test.   I'm concerned that Belk is owned by people who don't actually give a damn and aren't very smart.  

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6 minutes ago, Phillydog said:

...I don't think retail is dead per se, I think retail as we knew it is dead.   Smart people will figure out how to respond to change.  Humans are social animals who like to wander and cities that offer the most experiences - will be winners.  Belk should use downtown Charlotte as a test.   I'm concerned that Belk is owned by people who don't actually give a damn and aren't very smart.  

Belk DID use uptown as a test for many years. 

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On 1/26/2021 at 7:09 PM, Phillydog said:

I wonder if department stores, like Belk, should forget malls and look at going back downtown.  Not giant stores, but a few floors maybe 50K square feet.  The stores would have to destinations almost as much for tourists as for locals.  Like Restoration Hardware's gallery prototypes.  People are looking for "experiences" shopping used to be an "experience" when the retail world was diverse with actual differences between stores and products.  Focus on bringing in clothes you can't find at Kohl's and Macy's; treat your staff like professional sales people and focus on service and experience.  Downtown Charlotte, downtown Raleigh, downtown Asheville, Greenville, SC to start.   

Downtown Greenville and downtown Asheville do have a department store: Mast, which does very well, at least in Greenville.

I agree with you.  Probably part of department stores’ problems today are due to the fact that almost all of them are only in malls.  
 

Target is blanketing NYC and probably other cities with small (12,000 to up to 55,000 sf) stores, and there are so many of them that everyone in Manhattan will soon be less than a mile from one and a lot of people will be half a mile or less from one.  Nordstrom has a few small locations, too.  Surely convenient locations help build sales.

I found it odd that there is no centrally-located department store in Charlotte. After a long day at work I never wanted to trek from uptown to SouthPark- it’s a 20-minute drive.

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53 minutes ago, Cityplanner said:

In all my years working uptown, I don’t think I ever saw a single customer in the uptown mini-Belk.  

The tough thing for Uptown is it also needs more of a "neighborhood" component for soft goods retail like Belk or consistent non-business traveler tourism. Uptown streets and shopping are pretty dead between 9am and 12pm and 2pm to 4pm with everybody working. At lunch time, people flood out to get food, not browsing a department store. Then add in relatively low foot traffic on the weekend in Uptown and you have a store reliant on trying to capture people that want to grab a tie or pair of socks after work in a 3 hour window. Due to this, "employment center" department stores have largely closed up nationwide unless they are on a major tourism block like Chicago's Michigan Ave, et.

An urban Belk would likely do better in SouthEnd with its much higher residential population and weekend foot traffic. Urban neighborhood stores have showed promising growth for retailers, with a high density residential population that can walk to the store near their house. This has been Target's urban strategy: No store in the financial district, but stores in residential areas like Tribeca,Hell's Kitchen, Brooklyn, et.

Edited by CLT2014
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Totally true about uptown Charlotte.  And you are also right about NYC: there isn't a Target on Wall Street, although the Tribeca one is close by.  

Maybe a location uptown that would be easily accessible to everyone, not just Bank of America office workers, would do better--such as in the Epicentre if that's ever turned around?  Or along Trade or Tryon?  I certainly agree that being in a place with residents nearby is helpful.  And a small location would make more sense than a 300,000 square foot one.

There was no outdoor sign for the uptown Belk; it was just hidden away in the Overstreet Mall so that the only people who'd know about it were office works who walked by on their way to lunch or the parking garage.  Nor was the store advertised, as far as I knew.

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In NYC, along Broadway from 79th to 84th or so is a stretch of numerous big box retailers: Staples, Barnes and Nobles, Target, Marshall's, CVS, DSW Shoes, Victoria secret. BB&Beyond at 89th. I am not sure if they are open now or during Covid but were staples (ahem) of the city retail. My go to hotel in NYC is at 79th and Amsterdam and I shop that stretch every time.

Edited by tarhoosier
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In Friday paper version of NYTimes Business section is the notice of bankruptcy filing for Belk. Identification of claimant classes, percentage of new common stock issued to class members, list of law firms representing claimant classes (none headquartered in Charlotte) and other dry information. I am sure this is available in all the normal locations for such postings but I am just now reading yesterday's paper.

It is a better than usual edition overall with lots of worthwhile reading.

I take the Friday and Sunday home versions and cruise the online version other days when I am interested.

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On 1/29/2021 at 9:58 PM, Windsurfer said:

They also had a mini store in the Overstreet Mall.  That was more of a "test".

The Overstreet location was more a convenience store.  To work, it needs to be a destination not an afterthought.  

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On 1/30/2021 at 8:12 AM, CLT2014 said:

The tough thing for Uptown is it also needs more of a "neighborhood" component for soft goods retail like Belk or consistent non-business traveler tourism. Uptown streets and shopping are pretty dead between 9am and 12pm and 2pm to 4pm with everybody working. At lunch time, people flood out to get food, not browsing a department store. Then add in relatively low foot traffic on the weekend in Uptown and you have a store reliant on trying to capture people that want to grab a tie or pair of socks after work in a 3 hour window. Due to this, "employment center" department stores have largely closed up nationwide unless they are on a major tourism block like Chicago's Michigan Ave, et.

An urban Belk would likely do better in SouthEnd with its much higher residential population and weekend foot traffic. Urban neighborhood stores have showed promising growth for retailers, with a high density residential population that can walk to the store near their house. This has been Target's urban strategy: No store in the financial district, but stores in residential areas like Tribeca,Hell's Kitchen, Brooklyn, et.

Have you been to a suburban mall on a weekday?  Well, back when people went to malls.  They were dead weekdays; a bit busier from 5 until 7 and then quiet again until closing.  If we want to compare downtown stores and customers traffic with non-downtown stores, let's be honest.  I thought the Uptown residential population was close to 70K?   Downtown stores closed for a number of reasons inlcuding maintenance and upkept, and a shrinking population.  A new or restored structure with an eye toward "experience" in a location with a rapidly growing population does work in dense urban locations like Uptown (or Southend).

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3 hours ago, Phillydog said:

Have you been to a suburban mall on a weekday?  Well, back when people went to malls.  They were dead weekdays; a bit busier from 5 until 7 and then quiet again until closing.  If we want to compare downtown stores and customers traffic with non-downtown stores, let's be honest.  I thought the Uptown residential population was close to 70K?   Downtown stores closed for a number of reasons inlcuding maintenance and upkept, and a shrinking population.  A new or restored structure with an eye toward "experience" in a location with a rapidly growing population does work in dense urban locations like Uptown (or Southend).

The 28202 zip code (pretty much everything directly in Uptown) is estimated at 13,500 people. 
In 2019 the Center City Partners estimated the population of South End, Uptown, Midtown, and West End to collectively be 32,300. I do agree a walkable location for Belk could be beneficial, but think South End would be more successful than Uptown -> particularly on the weekends when people are more likely to shop for clothing as South End has a larger residential population than Uptown and is developing adjacent retail for synergies (Atherton Mill, Design Center, Rail Yard, et.). 

Edited by CLT2014
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1 hour ago, CLT2014 said:

The 28202 zip code (pretty much everything directly in Uptown) is estimated at 13,500 people. 
In 2019 the Center City Partners estimated the population of South End, Uptown, Midtown, and West End to collectively be 32,300. I do agree a walkable location for Belk could be beneficial, but think South End would be more successful than Uptown -> particularly on the weekends when people are more likely to shop for clothing as South End has a larger residential population than Uptown and is developing adjacent retail for synergies (Atherton Mill, Design Center, Rail Yard, et.). 

Ah, I was waaay off...  What's the emplyee count?  Maybe 100K?   I'm positing that a 21st century department has to be a destination and an experience -- not just for people who live /work nearby.  A place like it should be capturing convention goers, workers, residents, tourists, and people coming in from a region.  I think the best cities have the best and most important structures in a central location.  See:  https://www.bikiniberlin.de/en/home/ and  https://www.dezeen.com/2019/06/05/galeries-lafayette-champs-elysees-paris-interiors-big/

(PS I know, Charlotte is not Berlin or Paris...LOL)

 

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