Monday, January 26, 2009

Rich's at Brookwood Village in Birmingham

Russell Wells contributed these photos of the Rich's, one of two anchors of the radically transformed Brookwood Village in Birmingham. Generally deemed as one of the more upscale malls in the city, this two-anchor mall was wedged in a narrow valley between Shades Creek and a mountain, giving Rich's a very unusual hillside backdrop in contrast to the Atlanta piedmont stores in much flatter terrain. The Rich's here opened in 1975 as the north anchor with Pizitz as the south anchor. Anchor changes shuffled so that today the mall is anchored by Macy's and Belk. Belk had previously been Parisian and McRae's before the changeover. The mall itself was also radically transformed since it opened.


The Rich's at Brookwood is significant, because it spelled the end of the Rich family era. This was the one of the two last stores (the other Century Plaza) built by the family before Dick Rich suddenly died in 1975. The family-owned company had overextended themselves with the Birmingham move along with rapid expansion of Richway and the company found itself in debt before his death. Not only that, but Rich's entered a pretty saturated market in Birmingham in competition with Pizitz, Loveman's, Parisian and Blach's, which makes it amazing it survived in the city. Shortly after, the company was sold to Federated which is today now part of the Macy's monopoly.


5 comments:

  1. I met Kitty(I don't remember if she was widow or in-law) not long after Dick died. We had mutual friends in the owners of the Constitution and a local concert promoter. Nice lady who hosted some nice parties at her home behind Phipps. Great college experience.

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  2. Birmingham was Rich's only successful foray outside of Georgia, an expansion to Knoxville two decades earlier having being lackluster in results, and setting the stage for expansion to Greenville and Columbia, SC. Rival Davison's seemed to be better poised for expansion beyond Atlanta, having established branches in Athens, Macon, Colombus, Augusta, and Columbia, SC prior to Rich's expansion beyond Atlanta.

    Rich's was more aggressive building suburban Atlanta branches than Davison's. Macy's would rebanner Davison's to Macy's, bankrupt and be sold to Federated, Rich's parent, only to have Athens and Macon bannered from Macy's to Rich's during the 90's, to revert to Macy's in 2003-2005.

    Have the two Birmingham stores been painted white since being Macy-ated? Given the rivalry that existed between Atlanta and Birmingham during the early post-war era, Rich's waiting until the mid-70's was likely an advantage as Pizitz and Loveman's were beginning to decline and Parisian had yet t begin its expansion.

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  3. I used to work at this store while in college in the early 80's. This store would out sell many of the long-standing stores in the Atlanta market. This Rich's was one of the top 5 stores in overall sales following Lenox, Perimeter, Cumberland, and North DeKalb! The only other store that came close to our sales was the Downtown store.

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  4. Do you have any interior photos?

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately no. These were submitted, and I never took any interior shots of the store when I was there. You can see a little bit of it probably in the other post I did on Brookwood Mall.

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