Thursday, March 19, 2009

Not All Belks Are Created Equal

Nine times out of ten, if I am wearing a cute dress, I got it at Target. Specifically, it's most likely an Isaac Mizrahi for Target dress and it probably cost no more than $39.99. I love Isaac. I always have - even back in the 1990s when he was still in the world of couture along with the likes of Todd Oldham (now designing for Lazy Boy and also responsible at one point for some goods at Target) and Mark Eisen (now designing for Wal-Mart) and his dresses cost $3,999.

So - you can imagine my dismay when sometime in December I noticed that Isaac merchandise was no longer on display in Target stores. I was delighted that you could still order on-line, but even so, there were no new items being added and everything seemed to be moving over to the "Clearance" section which indicated to me that the genius partnership between Isaac and Target was coming to an end. Sorrow doesn't begin to describe what I was feeling. Moreover, I had no idea where Isaac has disappeared to until...

...I read not too long ago that Isaac had been poached by Liz Claiborne (Brilliant move Tim Gunn. Bril-Li-Ant!) and that his new collection would be on shelves soon. I was ECSTATIC!! Now, I can't recall ever buying anything from Liz Claiborne ever but as long as Isaac is in charge, sign me up.

I immediately raced to the Liz Claiborne website to browse the collection and find out where it was available locally. OMG - how cute, cute, cute it all is. Especially the shoes! And I love the bright pinks and yellows...Sorry. I got distracted.

Turns out, in the great state of North Carolina, the new Liz Claiborne is available primarily at Belk and Dillard's. Although I didn't see the Lincolnton Belk listed, I harbored this secret hope that perhaps...just maybe...I would be able to shop for my favorite designer in my lil ol' hometown.

I need to pause here to talk about our local Belk. Yes, it's a department store but it's a department store in Lincolnton which means it's different from a department store in Charlotte. Or even Hickory. Until recently, I hadn't ever really been to Belk (I know - you would have thought that a shopaholic like me would have at least checked it out) because frankly, it seemed rather dismal. My first excuse to shop there was with Marty when he needed something basic, like khakis. Subsequent visits have again, usually been with Marty, and usually been geared towards buying a specific, basic item (e.g. a plain white turtleneck, a black short-sleeved tee shirt). But, after discovering the whole Isaac/Liz/Belk connection, I immediately raced into town to check it out.

As it turns out, not so much to check out. Mainly brands I hadn't heard of. Nothing particularly glamorous. Or current. Not even any pre-Isaac Liz (let alone any Liz that was touched by his genius). All in all, rather depressing. But as a friend of mine who works for Belk explained to me: not all Belks are created equal. The Belk at South Park in Charlotte, to take one example, is on par with Nordstrom's or Bloomies in terms of the brands and labels they carry. Incidentally, it's also home to an ENORMOUS Lilly Pulitzer section with oodles of pink and green and where I once got a darling dress and super cute skirt at almost 80% off! You know how I love to spend to save.

So I did finally make it to the Belk at South Park yesterday and I did get my first taste of Liz by Issac and while they didn't have the shoes I wanted, I still got lots and lots of lovely things which made me extremely happy. Plus, I felt like I was doing my part to contribute to our economic recovery (yes, I will keep saying that over and over and over again...).

Once again, I have had to take my Country Girl hat off. But these days, shopping at South Park is more of a novelty than going to the farm supply store - which I have to do tomorrow since one of the water troughs is broken.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...


Anonymous said...

Have you checked out Belk's website?

Also, sign up for their newsletters. They often times send out 15% off coupons.

Karen Banker said...

I call the utilitarian department store you visited in Lincolnton a "Baby Belk" store. While it looks like a grown-up Belk store on the outside, once inside you find the additional time it takes to drive to South Park Mall is well worth the trip. Long live Issac!