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Belk Undergoes Makeover

belk The only constant in life, is change. There is no better proof than what happened today at the Crabtree Hudson Belk. As detailed in last Sunday’s News & Observer, the entire Belk chain is executing an image overhaul, and this means two things: standardization of the name and changing the logo.

The article detailed how Belk is going for a more modern image by retiring the scripted font and replacing it with a sans serif, all lowercase font. While one of the first new signs was installed last week at Crabtree and I had a chance to discuss it with the installers. The new logo does convey a radically different image for the store, however perhaps more intriguing is the sign technology itself. The second featured photo is a closeup of the “b” and it reveals that the sign’s surface is actually a sea of LED lights. The new Golden Corral on Glenwood features a highlight stripe on the building consisting of yellow LEDs, but their actual sign is still neon. Belk’s is the first such LED sign that I’ve seen in the Raleigh area, and I look forward to seeing it at night.

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Another major change that will be difficult to accept is the disappearance of the “Hudson” name from the area stores. Several decades ago Charlotte-based Belk bought several local department stores in the region, but allowed their local flavors to remain. For many years Karl Hudson and his family ran the Triangle area stores and did a fine job. Mr. Hudson died about a decade ago and the rest of the family sold their interest, so the Hudson name has been a non-functional relic; a vestigial reminder of the store that once had fabric, toy, electronic, and furniture departments worth visiting.

The new-look “belk” signs aren’t the only recent addition to the walls of the Crabtree Belk store: 5 banners featuring major works displayed at the North Carolina Museum of Art. The banners are gorgeous, and a significant amount of warmth compared the the building’s beige brick facade. I’m also struck by the selection of the works. They all are classic, but show five extremely different styles of painting, yet as a collection, the colors blend well as a set. This is a real treat for those going to dine at Brio, Fleming’s, or McCormick & Schmick’s.