MARY ESTHER — One of the oldest stores at Santa Rosa Mall has a brand new look.
Dillard’s, one of the mall’s anchor stores, recently completed a $1 million renovation that completely updates its look. To go along with the renovations, the store also has updated its merchandise and has expanded its offerings.
“Basically every piece of merchandise has moved,” said Tamara Corbin, the store’s assistant store manager. “We’ve shifted everything. Men’s is probably the least changed of all of it, but everything has moved, essentially. Our customers might be a little confused when they first come in, but I think they’ll eventually find it’s more shopable and it’s grouped better than it was.”
Dillard’s has been at Santa Rosa Mall in one form or another almost as long as the mall has been open.
The store originally opened as Gayfers in 1977, the year after the mall itself opened, and was one of the anchor stores. In 1998, Gayfers’ parent company Mercantile Stores was purchased by Dillard’s for $2.9 billion and the store was rebranded as Dillard’s.
Most recently, all the carpeting and tiles in the store have been replaced, as have most of the displays. The shoes and accessories departments benefited the most from the renovation, and both are greatly expanded, said Ray Payton, the store’s manager.
The shoe department alone added 1,600 square feet and added new brands such as Michael Kors and Lucky.
“No matter what town you go to, I think Dillard’s has the best selection of shoes,” Payton said. “I don’t think anybody competes with us in shoes, and we’ve given our customers more to chose from.”
The store also expanded its displays for jewelry, watches and sunglasses.
The renovations came together quickly. Corporate representatives visited the store in May and renovation plans were finalized by July. The work started in August and was completed earlier this month.
Dillard’s hosted a grand reopening Saturday to show off its renovations.
“We’re very happy that it happened,” Payton said. “I think it’s going to be tremendous. I think when people come out and see what we’ve done to the store and (how) we’ve opened it up (they will be impressed). It looks more open, you can see through the entire store. When you add new tile and new carpet, it looks cleaner. It smells cleaner.”