Samantha Thompson Smith, Staff Writer
The News and Observer, Raleigh, N.C.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- All we ask, Macy's, is that you don't break our hearts.
We can't take it from another department store chain, you see. We've been through enough already.
It's not that we haven't been welcoming. For almost two decades, we've opened our arms and hearts to new department store chains to the Triangle -- chains that promised us the best, but often didn't actually deliver.
You see, after Hecht's took over Thalhimers in the early 1990s, it opened its new Crabtree Valley Mall store. We were promised an "A" store -- packed with brands that weren't already in the market and were considered high-end, designer, contemporary. In the end, we got Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Liz Claiborne and Nautica. Nice stuff, but most of it wasn't exclusive or different. In fact, it was a lot like what we already had at Belk.
It got more painful than that. Who could forget the slow, painful death of Lord & Taylor at Crabtree? It, too, was promised to be an "A" store when it opened in 1995 packed with many of the same merchandise -- such as Tahari and Oleg Cassini -- as at Lord & Taylor stores in bigger markets.
By the time it closed in late February, it was a messy outlet type of store full of two-seasons-old clothes from other defunct Lord & Taylor stores.
We're still not sure how our relationship is going with Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue. However, there are some signs the stores aren't giving us the best they have to offer.
Take the Nordstorm at Durham's The Streets at Southpoint. And then look at the 16-page Nordstrom ad in the September Vogue magazine. The ad is packed with brands that aren't in the store: Chloe shoes, Zac Posen handbags, Proenza Schouler coats. At least we can get them online at www.nordstrom.com.
Then there's that little issue about the Charlotte Nordstrom at SouthPark mall, which carries contemporary designs by Tracy Reese, Chaiken, D&G and Milly.
And the Saks Fifth Avenue at Triangle Town Center still doesn't have some of the luxury brands, such as Gucci and Prada, we've been hoping for since it opened two years ago.
Of course, there hasn't always been disappointment. When Dillard's bought Ivey's in the early 1990s, Dillard's didn't make promises. The only real worry was that Dillard's wouldn't have sales as good as Ivey's used to. Today, Dillard's continues to improve its brand mix, including the addition of Kors by Michael Kors, Kenzie, BCBG Girls and David Meister, brands that help it stand out a bit from other department stores.
And who could forget the department store chain that raised us: Charlotte-based Belk. If anything, the chain has only gotten better. The Belk at Crabtree is among the only retailers in the state selling women's apparel by contemporary designer Marc Jacobs. It's also stocked with a collection of BCBG Max Azria, Elie Tahari and Theory separates and Betsey Johnson and Vera Wang dresses -- brands that used to only be found at specialty stores.
We'll give you a chance, Macy's. All we ask is that you do the same for us.
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