Bealls at Promenades Mall in Port Charlotte underwent a complete renovation following damages from Hurricane Ian, and the store, rebranded as Bealls and Home Centric, reopened Thursday.
On hand were company officials, including Krystel Beall, coordinator of Community Outreach and Philanthropy, who presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony as many rang cowbells and cheered.
Beall had a big surprise for 20 Charlotte County Public Schools social workers and Lisa Bratton, who is the Families in Transition program manager for the district. The program is for students and their families who lack a fixed, regular or adequate nighttime residence.
As Beall, whose husband is Matt Beall, CEO of the company, handed Bratton a gift-wrapped box, the assembled crowd smiled as they knew what was inside—gift cards worth thousands of dollars to be given out to 200 families in need, whose children attend schools in the district.
The hurricane severely damaged Bealls and other businesses at Promenades Mall. Merchandise had to be discarded due to water damage, said company President Tianne Doyle, who was on hand for the ceremony.
She said increased lighting and construction changes, including shortening a wall to create an open store area, were some of the changes.
Doyle, who O’Neil touted as the company’s first woman president, was one of the first five buyers in 1991.
Bealls, headquartered in Bradenton, has grown significantly since it was founded in 1915.
It has been owned and operated by the founding family for more than 100 years.
Today, there are nearly 600 Bealls stores in 23 states, with 187 in Florida.
The company is also rebranding its stores. The Bealls Outlet stores will be named simply Bealls by November 2023.
“We’re making this change to unify our brand nationwide, and because the word Outlet can imply seconds or excess merchandise,” said Monique Ritz, Bealls’ regional director who also was at the reopening event.
She emphasized that the smaller Bealls “have distinct merchandise assortments from our larger Bealls Florida stores, with new arrivals every week.”
O’Neil said there are separate buying teams—one team buys just for the Bealls department store at Port Charlotte Town Center, for example, while other teams buy for various smaller Bealls that soon will not be called outlets.
Doyle said the smaller Bealls do not receive discards from the larger stores, but rather Bealls buyers purchase from manufacturers who might have a limited number of a particular clothing item, for example.
The clothing would be distributed among the smaller Bealls, as the department stores require a larger number in various sizes.
O’Neil compared shopping at a smaller Bealls to a treasure hunt.
If one can’t find a particular garment in their size, they could shop at another smaller Bealls where they might find what they’re looking for, she said.
Bealls first opened at Promenades Mall in May 2003 and has had a store in the community since the 1970s.
In addition to clothing, the newly remodeled store sells home and beauty items, as well as a large selection of pet products and kitchen and home decor.
The grand opening celebration at Promenades Mall will continue throughout the weekend and Labor Day weekend, with raffles and giveaways, the company announced.
Other Bealls in Southwest Florida also were damaged by Hurricane Ian, but the Venice store has already reopened.
Bealls at Merchants Crossing Shopping Center in Englewood, 1500 Placida Road, and the Fort Myers location at Cypress Trace will reopen in October, O’Neil said.