Worth a left turn 

REARRANGED: Fewer designer lines.
  • REARRANGED: Fewer designer lines.

So what is, exactly, in a name?

The folks in charge of the “new” Belk store in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center are about to find out.

We got excited about Parisian. It was unfamiliar. Worth braving a left turn across Cantrell for.

But Belk? Conway has a Belk. Hot Springs too. We know Belk. Or at least we think we do.

Little Rock's Belk, though, is a “premier” Belk, store manager Peyton Berklite said. That's two notches above the “basic” Belks found elsewhere in the state, and just one notch below the “flagship” level of the chain's, well, flagship store in North Carolina. The difference, Berklite said, is that the flagship store has more designer lines.

My impression? The store's design is still vastly superior — I've always loved how open and airy it is — but otherwise, it's basically a more compact Dillard's in terms of merchandise.

If you haven't been by since the transformation, it's worth a visit. There's been some major rearranging of departments and reallocating of floor space; there's now an 11,000-square-foot home store that occupies a large chunk of the upper level, and the men's department has taken over some of the space formerly reserved for shoes.

A couple of Parisian's higher-end women's lines were jettisoned in the transition, Berklite said — Dana Buchman and Ellen Tracy — but a lot of familiar names are still around: Lucky, Free People, Sigrid Olsen, Ralph Lauren, BCBG, Eileen Fisher. And the store has added some new moderate casual lines.

On the men's side, additions include Nautica, Chaps, Columbia and Izod. There's also now a big-and-tall department and a young men's section.

And if you were a fan of Parisian's shoe and handbag selections, don't fret — Belk will carry the same brands.

As for the home store, it's got a lot of familiar names — Mikasa, Fiestaware, KitchenAid, Wilton Armetale. Your standard stuff. (Not that I have anything against standard stuff. Just sayin'.)

There's actually a kind of nice balance at Pleasant Ridge now, with Belk walking the middle of the fashion road and a half-dozen or so local boutiques, all transplants from elsewhere in the city, providing the pizzazz: Scarlet, Thread, the Sassy Stork, Beyond Cotton, Vesta's.

Altogether, probably still worth turning left across Cantrell for.

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