Belk celebrates 125th anniversary

Community outreach focus of Sevierville celebration
May. 30, 2013 @ 11:56 PM

Belk Inc. celebrated its 125th anniversary Wednesday, and in conjunction Belk Sevierville has selected a local school as a beneficiary.

Sevierville Intermediate School will receive a picnic table, wall murals, bookshelves, books and a tree from Belk, whose associates will install the gifts at the school June 11.

“Every Belk store is doing 125 days of service, so every store has selected a school in their area to give back to,” said Rob Cates, store manager at Belk Sevierville. “We chose Sevierville Intermediate because it meets all our requirements. It’s the closest Title I elementary school to us.”

Cates said the store will provide at least two murals for the school to hang anywhere. The picnic table will go behind the school. The store will provide 125 books.

The store will also provide a makeover to the school’s principal, Terri Dodge, on June 12. The makeover includes a new outfit, hair and cosmetic makeover.

In addition to the school gifts, Belk held festivities at the store Wednesday morning.

“We had a VIP breakfast for some of the elite customers. (Mayor Bryan Atchley) and Alderman Jim McGill spoke, one of our associates did some music, and catering was provided by Hungry Bear Cafe,” Cates said. “We also gave away recyclable bags with goodies and gift cards to the first 100 guests this morning.”

Belk Sevierville generated $12 million in sales last year, the highest mark in its history. Over the last year, the store has regionally been number one in sales increase and number one in customer service. It was also number one in the 93-division (93 stores) in customer service achievement.

“We have great associates in the building,” Cates said. “We have a lot of people who have been here since the store has opened. We try to keep good people and make them happy so they can deliver that same experience to the customers.

“Our associates really care about the customers. It’s hard to find that in any retailer these days.”

Cates said Belk strives to give back to the community. It has donated over $100,000 to local charities through its Charity Sale. The store gave 34 free mammograms on May 7 through the Belk Mammography RV visit.

Belk is also a sponsor of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Foundation.

“We try to take things out in the community and make sure we’re giving back to Sevierville and Sevier County,” Cates said.

rhargett@themountainpress.com