Although Belk in Mullins Colony wasn’t scheduled to open its doors Wednesday until 9:30 a.m., Apryl Burgess arrived nearly four hours earlier , with her tea in hand, and waited behind a barricade.
“I wanted to be first,” said Burgess, who hoped to score big on a gift card and get in early to peruse the grand opening day sales at the retailer. A soft opening was held Oct. 5.
More than 550 people were part of the early crowd to get into the store. Gift cards ranging from $5 to $500 and a coffee mug were distributed to the first 300 people in line.
Prior to the doors’ opening, store officials marked the occasion with a ceremony and a ribbon cutting.
“This is my first store in Georgia, and we’re thrilled to be here,” said Jaime Valdez, Belk Regional Vice President, Columbia Region.
The Evans’ store is part of the retailer’s strategy to reinvigorate its brand by investing more than $40 million in new stores and renovating others.
Belk has a history in the South dating back to the 1800s, but calls its brand “modern Southern style.”
Ron Cross, Columbia County Commission Chairman, thanked members of the Mullins’ family for continuing the second phase of the retail center, which began with the adjacent Mullins Crossing, and he thanked Belk for investing in the community.
In addition to the gifts for the first 300 people, there were four $1,000 shopping sprees given to military families. Two recipients, Carol Farnsley and Sheree Dekle, were on hand to receive their gifts. The other two, Molly Martin and Vicki Moye, were unable to attend the opening.
Farnsley had a definite plan for her shopping spree.
“My son is getting ready to leave for a two-year mission with our church,” she said. “He’s going to need luggage and a suit. And we are expecting our ninth baby so I’ll probably get some baby things.”