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.
'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.'