Dillard’s gets makeover
Party marks completion of Phase 1 renovations
By ALTA LeCOMPTE
Las Cruces Bulletin
On Aug. 19, Dillard’s threw a party to celebrate the first in a series of remodeling projects and the introduction of new products that appeal to millenials.
“We’re always looking for a reason to celebrate,” said Las Cruces store manager John Bittrick. He promises another celebration in September when the store completes Phase 2, introducing new jewelry and watches. Phase 3 will be all about bags and accessories.
The party marking the completion of Phase 1 focused on the newly configured cosmetics department and its new products.
Customers found the traditional favorites such as Clinique and Este Lauder in new locations and also got acquainted with a brand that’s new to Dillard’s — MAC.
MAC for looks
“We used to get calls nearly every day asking if we have MAC,” Bittrick said. “We can now say yes to them and invite them into our store.”
He said the MAC line appeals to younger shoppers for many reasons, not the least of which is social responsibility. MAC is known for its recycling program and its AIDS charity, the largest dedicated to helping patients, he said.
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Fragrances are seen on display at Dillard’s.
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“New Mexico State University students want to stop going to El Paso for MAC cosmetics,” he said. “Now they can go to the Mesilla Valley Mall.”
Where have all the young girls gone?
Dillard’s is one of the nation’s largest apparel, cosmetics and home furnishings retailers with annual sales exceeding $6.5 billion.
The search for a younger clientele began 15 years ago when Dillard’s conducted comprehensive research and learned it was viewed by shoppers as a store for “little old ladies,” Bittrick said.
Dillard’s began featuring its contemporary line of attire for college students and young professionals.
The contemporary department at the local store — The Edge — will expand during the makeover and add brands the management team believes will become increasingly popular with style-conscious Since 1976 millenials.
The current metamorphosis of the Las Cruces store began in April after the store came under the aegis of the Phoenix region, Bittrick said.
“Our new regional manager stepped into the door and said, ‘You don’t have a MAC counter?’” Bittrick said. “You have a college market with NMSU in your back yard.”
The Las Cruces store reaches out to the college market in a variety of ways, including providing items for charity auctions, supporting the Shop for a Cure Tough Enough to Wear Pink luncheon and giving presentations for retail merchandising students.
Next stop, jewelry
Phase 2 of the reinvention of Dillard’s at MVM will be the creation of a new space for jewelry and watches. The space currently is under construction behind a closed curtain.
“It will be open-concept, which puts greater focus on the merchandise rather than the fixtures,” Bittrick said.
With the new look will come new product lines, including watches by New York designer Kate Spade.
JOHN BITTRICK Dillard’s store manager
“It’s a funky, contemporary look geared toward younger females, with lots of polka dots and lots of color,” Bittrick said.
Also new will be Diesel watches for men.
“But the piece de resistance for jewelry — we will be the sole provider for James Avery jewelry in southern New Mexico,” Bittrick said. “It’s hand designed, hand crafted, hand sold top-quality silver. They’re exclusive to Dillard’s. You will not be able to find them at Nordstrom.”
The James Avery gallery of charms, bracelets, wedding bands and necklaces will be displayed on eight fixtures.
“They include significant pieces, and also simple crosses; 40 percent of their business is charms,” Bittrick said.
By next spring, 200 Dillard’s stores will carry the line.
The Dillard’s way
Phase 3 of the remodeling will create a series of mini-boutiques, each displaying a sought-after brand of handbags, Bittrick said. He said the departments will continue to operate throughout the remodeling. When construction is completed, all readyto- wear will be connected and will ring the perimeter of the store, uninterrupted by unrelated departments such as children’s and cosmetics.
Bittrick said Dillard’s is the highest-paying store in MVM.
“That comes with expectations,” he said, noting that, in addition to formal training, associates receive ongoing coaching.
“I’m a big proponent of one-on-one coaching in the moment,” he said.
“Our goal is to provide the best customer care anywhere. From the customer service standpoint, we corner the market.” Alta LeCompte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 575-343-7478.
‘Our goal is to provide the best customer care anywhere. From the customer service standpoint, we corner the market.’