The JB White at Savannah Mall was among the most unattractive location in the entire chain. With a combination of brutalism and postmodern design, the store looked like a big brick block with a couple stucco arches thrown in. They did, however, use the nice script logo found on the stores built in the 70's and 80's. Dillard's continues to operate here today. Photo by C. Lewis.
Ill-fated Greenville Mall was one of several malls that the mere presence of White's seemed to be the main thing that kept them viable. Greenville Mall was largely a failure from the day it opened, and had it not been for White's, the mall would likely have failed sooner than it did. As one of three malls in the city, only one survives today, which is Haywood Mall. The White's at Greenville Mall as a whole was a bit of an anomaly...it was essentially carried over from its downtown Greenville location in a market considerably more competitive than Columbia or Augusta. When it came along, it competed with both Belk Simpson and Meyers-Arnold on the lower end and Ivey's on the higher end. Rich's complicated the issue when it arrived in 1980. With such a glut of stores and all choosing to flank the other two malls in the city, this left White's as the only real draw to a mall otherwise anchored by Montgomery Ward. The sale to Dillard's created an overlap with Haywood Mall as they had already built anew onto Haywood Mall along with a massive addition. Dillard's was hardly interested in maintaining two stores cannibalizing each other in the long term, and its closure of the Greenville Mall store devastated the mall.
JB White at Greenville Mall prior to the 1995 expansion and re-design of the store. This store looks exactly like a JCPenney from about 1970. In such a knock down, drag out retail environment it was in I can see how its design was outmoded rather quickly. Photo by C. Lewis.
White's reinvented itself into this beautiful, gleaming (appropriately) white store. Unfortunately, it was still knocked down and drug out less than 15 years later after Dillard's failed to maintain the sparkle. Photo by C. Lewis.
One of Dillard's major difficulties today is the backlash from the amount of local department store chains it bought out. While they have managed enough success to remain viable, this change alienated quite a few shoppers who felt Dillard's did not cater to them in any way. This was very true in the failure of Dillard's at Greenville Mall, but this may have not had any bearing on what happened in Savannah. In Savannah, White's was hardly a familiar store, but the disappearance of Levy's a few years before made it possible for them to fit into the market better than if they had arrived a decade prior. This is why the Dillard's location at the mall has remained successful despite the problems in Savannah Mall. In all, Dillard's has still performed well in the former market of White's, but in these two malls it has proven to be more of a challenge. How much better really was White's doing in these places before the buyout? It tends to make me wonder what the company's long-term strategy really was such as White's moving closer to the Atlanta or Charlotte markets.