Saturday, July 15, 2006
Before becoming Belk, Proffitt's had a good run in Georgia even though it was a department store mostly associated with eastern Tennessee. In Georgia, it pretty much lasted here from 1992 until Belk bought it out in 2005. How it came into Georgia pretty much came as a result of several consolidations.
Proffitt's existed in Georgia in two locations: Dalton and Rome. At both of those locations, Belk was already there as well. In regards to Belk in Rome, it was known as Belk Rhodes while in Dalton it was possibly originally Parks-Belk. Proffitt's, however, had started out as two different stores for each town. In Rome, it was the only Georgia location of the Miller's (Miller Bros.) Department Store, which was centered in Knoxville. In Dalton, it was the Chattanooga-based Loveman's (not to be confused with Loveman's of Alabama).
Proffitt's came first to Dalton in 1988 when the small Loveman's chain was purchased by the expanding Proffitt's, which originated in downtown Maryville, TN. The expansion of Proffitt's was a rather strange phenomenon considerings its origins as a small town department store south of Knoxville. The notion of how it came to trump Miller's was rather strange, but Miller's itself was bought out two years earlier by Pennsylvania-based Hess's.
For a few years, you had Hess's in Rome and Proffitt's in Dalton. Hess's moved from the flood-prone Riverbend Mall to the shiny new Mt. Berry Square in 1991 and only a couple months later it became Proffitt's. That's how there became two locations. Proffitt's by then had gone expansion crazy and had locations in about seven states and bought out Saks Fifth Avenue and McRae's in Alabama. The expansion did not go over well in many areas and the chain began hurting and retracted back in those places.
By 2005, Proffitt's sold out to Belk because of the decline of the chain. Belk was a good fit for all these stores and the small size of most locations made the Belk conversion easy since they could simply expand their departments in two buildings in the same mall. Belk also gained much greater prominence in Tennessee and Alabama, where they had previously had a very limited presence.
Photos include the Proffitt's at Mt. Berry Square Mall in Rome (now Belk Home and Kids) and the Proffitt's at Bradley Square Mall in Cleveland, TN (now Belk).