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).


  1. Aaah, Proffitt's...I miss thee already!

    I actually didn't have a long relationship with the store. I had seen their name driving through Chattanooga several times, but didn't know much more about them until I went to grad school in Knoxville in 2000-2001. Proffitt's was my store of choice there, especially the home department. I even opened up a Proffitt's account.

    When I was done with school, I moved back to Greenville, SC (where I went to undergrad), where the Parisian store was changed to a Proffitt's either right before or right after I got there. However, the Proffitt's store there couldn't hold a candle compared to West Town in Knoxville. Granted, West Town was their flagship, but still it seemed like they never tried to do much with the Greenville store. The fact that it was in the "unpopular" mall didn't help, and probably didn't provide much incentive to do anything. I still shopped there often, though, and I must say that I wasn't a bit surprised when I read in the paper that they were closing.

    At least they were bought by Belk and not....*you know who. Not that I have anything against *you know who, but I like variety in my shopping experiences.

  2. Well I do have issue with Macy*Mart, but I don't really know how Proffitt's compares to other stores. I do know that it was fairly popular I think partly because it was a very distinctly East Tennessee store with a very nice history to it.

    I know about Proffitt's from observation and discussions with one my friends from NW GA, but I personally never shopped at Miller's, Hess's or Proffitt's. My Atlanta roots did not really ever cause me to become familiar with any of the stores outside of North Georgia except for J.B. White in the brief time I was in S.C. in 1986.

  3. I only got to go to two Proffitt's, one in Richmond, one in Bristol, Va. They were pretty cool.

  4. So how are the Proffitt's and McRae's doing post-conversion to Belk? Great blog, btw!

  5. The Belk at Walnut Square has always been Belk. Belk in downtown Dalton was
    Belk-Gallant. I had two floors and a basement. The basement was not a bargain basement, but rather kitchenwares and small apppliances. The main floor had shoes, men's and children's clothing. Women's clothing occupied the 2nd floor.

    The Loveman family lived in Dalton before Chattanooga and local poet Robert Loveman was of the same family. Loveman's was founded after the Civil War, roughly 1874. Loveman's of Alabama was the same family and the same script was used on the department stores. Loveman's may have had a store in Dalton prior to World War II and the department store chain had been much larger throughout East Tennessee, shedding stores as Miller's and Proffit's expanded in Knoxville and the Tri-Cities.

  6. I lived in Nashville when Proffitt's came to town (1998). Proffitt's took over 5 locations of The Castner Knott Company which Dillard's was not allowed to keep after their purchase of Castner's parent company, Mercantile.

    Proffitt's was an awful store in Nashville. They dumbed down the merchandise (it can be said that Knoxville and Nashville have nothing in common so the buyers of a Knoxville-based store knew absolutely nothing about how to merchandise a Nashville store, much less, at the time 5 high-volume stores). The stores themselves took on a very dirty look. This is pretty much the time when department store shopping took its huge nose-dive, at least in Nashville.

    I honestly don't think Proffitt's tried in Nashville. The 5 stores they ended up with could have very well been the best-performers of the chain. Eventually they sold out to Hecht's of Baltimore/Wahsington D.C. and they did nothing exciting either. The stores are now currently Macy's.