It had to happen, perhaps, but there will be a feeling of sadness among some North Carolinians with the sale of the Belk stores to a New York private equity firm, Sycamore Partners. The Belk family out of Charlotte has controlled the company for over 100 years, and there have been different incarnations thanks to the days when Belk would partner with other people and companies (the Hudsons of Raleigh, for example).
But now there apparently are few in the Belk family who want to take over a company with 290-plus stores in 16 states, most in the Southeast. And so it will go the way of other chains.
Many in Raleigh got their very first credit cards from Hudson Belk, and some their first jobs, too. The service was personal, and the clerks were friends. “Belk’s Basement” in downtown Raleigh was a regular Saturday stop for many families seeking bargains. In those days, long before the current revitalization, Hudson Belk was the center of the downtown universe, and some families made a day of it, going from Hudson Belk to lunch to the State Capitol grounds to feed the pigeons.
Today, the stores maintain a hometown feel. That’s one reason why, when the Crabtree Valley store closed its cafeteria, some regulars bought the furniture off the floor.
Ah, well, so it goes. We just wish it could have gone more slowly.