Bealls can't wait to turn 100 by celebrating 99 years in business

Bradenton-based retailer celebrating 99 years in business with special giveaways, promotions to prep for 100th anniversary

cschelle@bradenton.comFebruary 10, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Bealls department stores is using Tuesdays as a tease to its celebration of 100 years in business next year.

Bradenton-based Bealls will have its second Bealls Day Tuesday after launching Feb. 4 in its Florida stores filled with special promotions and giveaways.

"Certainly the centennial is something we're very excited about, and the 99 years' notation is just really feeding into that," Bealls spokesman Bill Webster said. "It's almost like a teaser going into the big year."

Bealls Chairman Bob Beall, grandson of founder Robert M. Beall, inserted a special note to shoppers in last week's Bradenton Herald about the promotion. On Tuesdays Bealls will provide free coffee and give shoppers a chance to talk to the store manager and team starting at 7 a.m. Triple bonus points are also offered during that time as well as 30 percent off clearance items. The event also goes hand-in-hand with the 50 & Fabulous Tuesdays where shoppers 50 and up save an extra 15 percent for their in-store bill.

"We will have more associates staffed every Bealls Day to ensure you have assistance when you need it," Beall wrote.

Each week will have a different promotion, Webster said. This week's event is scheduled to offer free bra fittings plus buy one get one free bras, while on Feb. 18 Bealls will partner with one of their shorts manufacturers and give away a trip to Key West, Webster said. The following week the retailer will promote New Balance shoes.

Bealls began in 1915 when Robert M. Beall opened a dry goods store called The Dollar Limit on Old Main Street before becoming V Dollar Limit, for Five Dollar Limit after inflation during World War I. The stores became Bealls Department Store in 1940. The family hasn't looked back since, operating more than 535 stores plus Bealls Outlets and Burkes Outlets. (The store is not associated with the Bealls stores in Texas, New Mexico and Alabama, which are owned by Stage Stores Inc.)

"There are very, very few stores in Florida or even in the country like ours that are still thriving and are still owned by generations of the family that founded them," Webster said.

Staff at Bealls have long been preparing for next year's 100th anniversary by doing research. Two years ago, they began video interviews on the history of Bealls, Webster said. Finding old ads in the Bradenton Herald archives bring out some gems, he added.

"Some of them are a little idiosyncratic with a little editorializing from our founder, urging people to join the militia during World War I and urging people to buy war bonds from World War II," Webster said. "We're doing a lot of discovering of our own past."

The history is already being celebrated in emails to customers and with other ads, Webster said.

"I noticed that already our emails to our customers are reflecting our 99-year history and are looking back, showing images of earlier stores," he said.

As for what Bealls has planned for its 100th anniversary, that's under wraps for now.

Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter@ImYourChuck.

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