Yesterday’s Food And Retail by Grady Ellis (Editorial)
Yesterday’s Food and Retail by Carrollton resident Grady Ellis is an editorial series brought to you by The City Menus, LLC. The following piece is unedited and in its original state. In no way does it reflect the views or opinions of The City Menus, LLC or its additional contributors.
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Belk is a name that instantly makes you open your eyes. They bring many shopping options to our lovely city that otherwise would require a trip outside Carrollton. Founded in Monroe, North Carolina, in 1888, Belk has proudly served many towns throughout the Southeast, and since the 1940s, Carrollton. As the story normally goes in the history of department stores, we begin near Adamson Square.
Today stands a beautiful parking garage in Downtown Carrollton behind the former People’s Bank. A fountain sits where once people walked through the doors of Belk Rhodes. The reason for the name “Belk Rhodes” was due to a complex structure of growth by Belk. Throughout the South, it was normal to find Belk Matthews, Belk Gallant, etcetera. The partnerships Belk had, coupled with its complex system, helped them grow throughout most of the Southeast in the 20th Century. The Carrollton location had two floors and was in a very popular intersection for shoppers. Griffin’s Department Store was located where the parking for the United Community Bank is. Also, downtown shops like Folsom’s, Merrell’s, Bennett’s, Diana Shops, and The Leader were popular with folks through this time. Belk would remain downtown until the mid 1970s, when two shopping centers went up on Bankhead Highway; and the one named First Tuesday Mall would be the site for the next chapter of Belk’s commitment to Carrollton and its hold on shoppers, as it opened in 1978.
As Belk Rhodes continued to grow and prosper in the late 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s at First Tuesday Mall, the downtown location was torn down in the 1980s for a drive-thru for People’s Bank, later C&S, then NationsBank, and today West Central Technical College. The Belk Rhodes name was found in Rome, Cedartown, and Carrollton. As Belk had become one of the major players in Department Stores over the years, the Belk family bought out the partnerships, and the stores became known simply as Belk. If you go to the Carolina area, Belk is to people there what Rich’s was to us here. They have always been able to connect with areas such as ours; and it’s shown. In 1997 Belk would once again make another move, this time to its present location at McIntosh Plaza.
As the 21st century has come, Belk has continued to grow. In 2006, Belk acquired the popular department store Parisian, and has become one of the top department store chains in the Southeast, living up to its motto “All For You.” Owned by the Belk family until 2015, with 300 locations across 16 states, Belk is a respected name when it comes to quality shopping. In Carrollton since the 1940s, from Alabama Street, to First Tuesday Mall, to McIntosh Plaza, it’s a truly modern southern classic that’s been one of the top names for retail in Carrollton for decades. And will continue to be for years onward.