Monday, September 29, 2014

Little information trickling out about Sarasota Dillard's (Updated)

Dillard's under construction at Mall at University Town Center.
Dillard's is building a mystery over  how it will transition from its Westfield Southgate Mall store to its new store at the  Mall at University Town Center this month.

The mall is only 17 days from opening, but despite little information being shared, a company spokeswoman assured that the new store will be ready for an Oct. 16 opening and actually may have a soft opening with limited hours prior to the 16th.

One detail the Bradenton Herald confirmed Monday is that the new Dillard's will be only one of 43 Dillard's in the country to showcase James Avery jewelry as part of a companywide partnership starting in mid-October.

The family-run jeweler out of Kerrville, Texas, will have its men's and women's jewelry showcased inside those Dillard's stores in only 15 states. Dillard's at the Mall at University Town Center, International Plaza in Tampa, Westfield Countryside in Clearwater, Florida Mall in Orlando and Pembroke Lake in Pembroke Pines are the Florida stores carrying the jewelry.

“As we enter our 60th year, we are very pleased to be entering this relationship with Dillard's, a company that shares our values of integrity, ingenuity, and a commitment to genuine, caring customer service. We are looking forward to working with the Dillard’s team to offer customers a nice selection of artfully crafted James Avery designs,” said Chris Avery, president and CEO of James Avery Jewelry in a statement.

Dillard's will have an announcement this week for more details about the new store, according to a company spokeswoman, and the Bradenton Herald will have a sneak peek of the store before the opening.

Time is ticking for Dillard's to transfer its employees to the new store and get ready.

Mall management said they have not heard from corporate officials what the plan will be for transferring employees to the new store. There was some trepidation Monday in one manager's comments on whether the new store will be ready for the grand opening on Oct. 16, though.

At the Southgate Dillard's Monday, the store looks like it could close any day, if not by this weekend. About half of the store is empty and the men's department is having a sale of 50 percent off the lowest ticketed price on most items. That was on top of a 65 percent off the original price. That means a $60 polo shirt could be had for $11 after tax. If shoppers are looking for any bargain deals at this Dillard's, get it now.

Employees said they still haven't heard anything from corporate, but one heard that they would be transferred Oct. 5. Store manager Phillip O'Nan said he has not been given any date by the corporate office. He directed all other questions to the company's headquarters.

A Florida-based Dillard's spokeswoman said she did not have that information Monday.

Another Dillard's spokeswoman told the Bradenton Herald earlier this month that the company hasn't decided whether the Southgate location will be a clearance center for awhile or close when the new store opens.

When Dillard's closed the DeSoto Square and Sarasota Square stores in November 2009 and December 2009, respectively, exact closing dates weren't announced until October 2009. 

Dillard's can go at its own pace in Southgate as the Little Rock, Ark., retailer owns that building. The new Dillard's will be a two-level 180,000-square-foot store while the Southgate store is a one-level, 97,000-square-foot store.

The Mall at UTC location will be the first new Dillard's store since 2010.

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