Mall at UTC

Macy's hopes to deliver what Bradenton-Sarasota shoppers want at Mall at University Town Center

UNIVERSITY PARK -- When Macy's opens a new store, its staff doesn't take the inventory carried in New York and duplicate it in every store.

A dedicated West Florida team at Macy's spent months -- if not years at this point -- researching what Sarasota-Bradenton shoppers want and the retailers hopes it has checked off every item.

"Our customer here basically tells us she likes head-to-toe brand," said Melissa Goff, a spokeswoman for Macy's.

Major brands -- Michael Kors, Lucky Brand, kate spade -- will see every accessory, from jewelry to handbags to clothes. The store also made sure to carry exclusive brands shoppers haven't experienced here before. Macy's will be the only UTC store to carry Movado watches, which can fetch $400 to $900. The Swiss watchmaker also will have a line of Derek Jeter watches. The fine jewelry department will be the only local Macy's to have bridal sets, too, with brand Effy doubling in size. Kipling bags, a Macy's exclusive, will be in the handbag area. A year-round swim shop is in place for residents and tourists. The store boasts 26,050 pairs of shoes.

"Our selection here is amazing compared to any Macy's on the West Coast of Florida," Goff said.

In the women's department, a Florida staple will make its local department store debut here.

"Outside of the state of Hawaii, we are the only Macy's store in the country to carry Tommy Bahama for Women," said Kerry Yelle, Macy's Vice President Store Manager. The

line previously hasn't been offered in department stores. The UTC Dillard's will also carry the line.

For shoppers who want an early look, Macy's will open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. Forty charities will be represented at the store. Shoppers can buy a $5 pass, which includes various discounts, with all proceeds going to the charities, Yelle said.

Yelle, who transferred from the Westfield Southgate Macy's, said the transition has been smooth and now it's go time.

"By noon (Friday) we'll be ready," she said.

Macy's grand opening hours will be 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 17 and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Oct. 18. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m.

Mobile shopping will be a big feature in Macy's. By the end of October, the new Connect@Macy's Centers will launch -- the first Florida Macy's to receive the feature and seventh in the nation.

The UTC store will be part of the company's nationwide pilot for Connect@Macy's Centers. Customers can shop at an electronic kiosk in the store with a large "lookbook" display and purchase the items on their own mobile device if they like.

"This really gives us an opportunity for us to show the customers what's on trend, what the latest fashions are and also runs through our promotions," Yelle said.

The station, located near the escalators, also serves as the site-to-store pick-up station.

Don't worry about looking for a cash register to buy something either off the rack or at the Connect center. Eleven employees will have a mobile point-of-sale device to serve as a check-out, Yelle said.

"They can facilitate a transaction anywhere in the store and they don't need to go to a standing register," she said.

The cosmetics department is built on interaction with beauty advisory specialists and electronics.

The Clinique bar has two iPad stations to allow customers to find the right product -- including men's products -- by guiding them through a multi-lingual app, Yelle said. The station will also print out a ticket customers can take with them.

"If you want to know what's new, it will take you through the newest and latest and greatest products," Yelle said. "If it's going to address skincare needs, it will start with your age and what your biggest concerns are and will point you in the right direction."

A Chanel area is equipped with a multi-light vanity mirror to allow women to test out cosmetics in different lighting settings. The Bobbi Brown cosmetics area is also the first for Macy's along Florida's Gulf Coast.

"You've got privacy, especially when you come in for a makeover," Goff said. "You can have your makeup done and not feel like you're sitting on display at a counter."

Somehow with the hundreds of Starbucks Coffee shops in Florida, there are some things still never done by the Seattle company. Being inside a Florida Macy's is one. The Mall at UTC Macy's will be the first Florida Macy's to have a full-service Starbucks. Others are planned for select Florida Macy's in the future, Goff said.

"This will be the destination for coffee," Goff said.

The 2,200-square-foot Starbucks will be open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. It is located at the store's north entrance.

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

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