Monday, July 21, 2014

Looking back: Ivey's department stores

Remembering Ivey's department stores

Ivey's Ends an Era - Uptown's last department store pulls out 

By Ted Mellnik, Staff 
August 18, 1990

For the first time this century, Charlotte's uptown doesn't have a department store. Ivey's, the last one, closed for good on Friday. 'Good evening. We thank you for your loyal years of patronage, ' dock supervisor Sharon Bryant announced at 5:30 p.m. over the store's public address system. 'Ivey's is now closed. Ivey's is now closed.' Her purchase of a 99-cent orange-and-white striped tank top was the store's last sale. There was little else left.

For Ivey's, it was the end of a 90-year stand. For most of those years, uptown Charlotte, with three large department stores, was the southern Piedmont's premier shopping district. 'Nothing had the uniqueness this Ivey's had, ' said Yates Palmer, 51, who as a 9-year-old regularly came 65 miles from Valdese with his mother to shop. 'It was one of the most prestigious stores in the Southeast.' Palmer, now a Charlotte resident, dropped by the store at 127 N. Tryon St. on Friday afternoon, for the first time in 15 years, just to take a last look.

1920's. Charlotte Observer file photo.
Uptown Ivey's, 1972.

'The first floor was mostly empty, with only a few odds and ends of women's wear hanging near the last open cash register. Years ago, this was the floor where a grand chandelier hung from the two- story ceiling near the entry, where department store magnate J.B. Ivey mounded live tulips each spring. Jewelry, hosiery, handbags and accessories, cosmetics, menswear, lunch counter and candy store.

 Upstairs, on floors two through five: just about everything else. 'It was a real treat, coming down here when I was a little girl, ' said Priscilla Schmidt, a former Ivey's personnel manager who recalled visiting the store as a 7-year-old in the late 1940s. 'It was a big deal to come in Ivey's and go shopping. It was elegant. You walked in the front door and it just smelled elegant.' Then came suburban shopping malls in the 1960s and 1970s and a series of new owners in the 1980s.'

'A peek into Ivey's from the N. Tryon Street walkway reveals new boutiques.'
1978. Don Hunter/Staff

'First, Marshall Field bought Ivey's from the Ivey family. Then Batus bought Marshall Field. In June, the 23-store Ivey's chain was sold to Dillard Department Stores Inc., and the sales staff was given 60 days' notice that the uptown store would close. 'I would have thought they would have waited another year,' said Madge Entrekin, a retiring 29-year veteran in Ivey's children's wear. She wished that Dillard's had hung on to the uptown store until three nearby skyscrapers are completed. Said Elizabeth Hill, who spent 22 years selling lingerie: 'They didn't even give us a chance.'

'Cay Austin dances a scene from Coppelia while Missy (left) and Jane Pattishall watch in fashions they'll be modelling at the children's show at Ivey's downtown tomorrow night.'
1973. Elmer Horton/Staff

Cosmetic counters at Ivey's SouthPark.
1979. Elmer Horton/Staff

'Window display at Ivey's  ... advertising winter coats.'
1976. Staff. Not sure which location.

Kitchenware at Ivey's SouthPark.
1981. Jeep Hunter/Staff

Ivey's SouthPark. Undated.


 Ivey's at Cotswold, 1988. 
Photographer's notes: 'Ivey's is being taken over by a firm called Steinmart, we think, at the Cotswold Mall store. Ivey's won't let us shoot inside the store so we'd like to get a photo of the store from either inside the mall area or from outside in the parking lot.'   Bob Leverone/Staff


'Ivey's Charlottetown Mall store now sells only clearance merchandise.'
1981. Jeep Hunter/Staff

'Entrance to Ivey's Terrace: the amosphere is just a little bit formal.'
1976. Elmer Horton/Staff.
(This uptown restaurant had been serving food to its customers since before World War I and closed in 1989.)


Anonymous said...

I always thought Ivey's was much nicer then Belk. And although it may be blasphemy coming from a native Charlottean, I like Dillard's better than Belk, too.

Anonymous said...

Not blasphemy, just true! Belk's customer service has gone down dramatically, especially at the flagship store in SouthPark...and this comes from a native who would have much rather spend money in a locally based chain.

Anonymous said...

Belk customer service at SouthPark is terrible. I never shop there because of it. Employees have ignoring customers down to an art.

Anonymous said...

Speaking about the lack of customer service mentioned in the past couple comments, don't most people actually want to be left alone? I for one find it a little annoying to constantly be be approached and asked if I need help. How much help does the average person need? I know my size. I know where to look for my size (hint: they label stuff). It's kind of a no brainer. I suppose if you're buying a suit or something similar you may need some extra attention but beyond that I don't see the need to have sales people falling all over me.

James Edgar said...

I arrived in Charlotte in August 1988 to attend UNCC. I actually had no idea Ivey's didn't close until 2 years after I got here. I understand why they closed; it was a complete ghost town once people's workday ended. I don't think the skyscrapers that were being built at the time would have helped any. There weren't going to be any people uptown after 5:00 until there were people living downtown and there were other things to do that would fill an evening up, and of course that didn't happen until Jim Gross turned the Ivey's building into condos and the Panthers built the stadium. Even then it took another 10 years to get enough stuff opened uptown to the point where a department store would possibly entertain the idea of opening in the area.

What I would love to see now is a surface parking lot turned into a Target or something of that nature. In case developers didn't realize (and judging by the number of $5,000-a-month apartments they're building, they don't notice), not everyone who works uptown makes $500,000 a year.

Anonymous said...

Customer Service at Belk South Park is second to none!
The sales associates are professional and very helpful!

If you're not happy I'm sure you can find something to complain about at Dillards or Macy-Penny's.

Anonymous said...

It isn't the customer service at the SouthPark store that I find lacking.

It's the merchandising.

Housewares has sections that look abandoned. You're either in the china/crystal/silver business, or you're not. Decide, please. When there's a white goods sale, it's usually a given that several or many towel lines will be lacking something, so that assembling a couple of complete sets is impossible.

Men's clothing is a cluttered, crowded mess. Same with men's shoes. Dillard's is exemplary by comparison, but Belk is crowded and Dillard's is not. I guess some of us Charlotteans like it crowded and cluttered.

Don't get me wrong-I am proud of Belk's successes and their hometown status.

I just wish they'd clean up their act at SouthPark.

Anonymous said...

Belk's has gone to selling mostly clothing made in China, made in Pakistan, etc. It is time for customers to buy only MADE IN THE U.S.A. Belk's is just a little above the sales at Target or WalMart!!!---Yes, I said WalMart. Buy made in the U.S.A. only and then their will be more jobs for people.

Anonymous said...

Thank you,I love this historical look back at Charlotte! You've done a great job! Ivey's was a real fixture in the Charlotte community. We have many wonderful family memories of what we called Ivey's Tulip Terrace. My mom, Jo Pattishall, was a young model and would often model there while ladies attended luncheons. Fast forward several years, my sister's Missy and Jane are pictured in the "Nutcracker" photo. That was a fashion show in which my mom was the commentator and I danced with the Gay Porter School of Dance. Later, I went on to be on the Ivey's Teen Board. It all went full circle as I even enjoyed client lunches at Ivey's Terrace as a young professional working uptown. Ivey's was such a special place! All long time Charlotteans can share an Ivey's anecdote. Love this historical look back at Charlotte! Thanks!

Maria David said...

Anon 10:28 - glad you like the blog and love it when I hear of a connection to a photo. Tx! - Maria

Susan Walker said...

As a little girl, I thought coming to Charlotte to shop at Ivey's with my grandmother was the biggest thing in the world. I loved the smell as we walked in the door, the trip to the Tulip Terrace where I always had the chicken pot pie and then the "Flower Pot" dessert. Every Christmas, I would receive at least one gift that came in box from Ivey's. Wonderful memories!

Matters of Style said...

I, too, remember dressing up to go to the Tulip Terrace for lunch with my mom and grandmother. Then they would meet with a personal shopper who would pick out beautiful clothes for them. It all felt so glamorous to me as a child!

Anonymous said...

I really liked Ivey's. I recall seeing the one in uptown Charlotte from outside, but my shopping at Ivey's was at the McAlister Square location in Greenville, SC. It was a nice store--perhaps in need of some updating towards the end, but still nice overall. Absolutely nothing wrong with Belk, but Ivey's was just higher-end. I miss it.