Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Belk holding 125th anniversary giveaways Wednesday

Charlotte-based Belk, Inc. is giving out gift cards up to $1,000 and free cupcakes at its stores on Wednesday, part of its 125th anniversary ("quasquicentennial") celebrations.

Starting at 9 a.m., the first 100 customers at each of Belk's stores will receive a gift card valued between $5 and $1,000. The fine print notes that there are three gift cards worth $1,000 being given out in total, one in each of Belk's three divisions.

There will also be cupcakes and other entertainment, Belk said.

The events are a continuation of Belk's 125th anniversary celebration, which has been ongoing this year. Wednesday is the actual anniversary of the opening of William Henry Belk's first store, which opened on May 29, 1888, in Monroe.

It was a discount store called "New York Racket," a name later dropped (and one that presumably wouldn't fit with Belk's current tagline of "Modern. Southern. Style.").

Here's a short snippet of Belk's early history: "Twenty-six-year-old William Henry Belk had been a store clerk for 12 years when, on May 29, 1888, he opened a small bargain store in the rural farming community of Monroe, North Carolina. He named it the New York Racket in hopes the name would attract customers and began practicing retail tactics that were unique for the time and place. Sales were strictly cash. Prices were clearly marked so there was no haggling. And, customers could return goods for an exchange or full refund if not completely satisfied. In 1893, William Henry persuaded his brother, Dr. John M. Belk, to leave his medical practice and join him as a partner in the business. Together, they expanded the company throughout the Carolinas and the South as the company flourished and grew."

Belk operates 301 stores now, mostly in the Southeast. The stock is privately held, largely still by the Belk family.