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Macy’s gleams in WestShore mall remodeling project

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Published:   |   Updated: August 16, 2013 at 07:14 AM

After 46 years, the store space now occupied by Macy’s at WestShore Plaza mall was due for a remodel. This week, store officials are unveiling a major one.

The aisles are now wider, the floors are more polished, there are fewer displays cluttering the walkways, the lights are brighter and there are a slew of new brands around the store – many of them expanded and moved to more convenient spots.

And though Macy’s might not necessarily be known as an ultraluxury retailer like those at the rival International Plaza mall nearby, this Macy’s is launching a personal shopping service.

“We’ve also made the store fit this local market much more,” said Macy’s District Vice President Lee O’Rourke. That means more inventory geared to the two major pockets of customers – midcareer professionals working in the WestShore area, and Millennials who are starting in their first jobs.

The building itself began life in 1967 as a Maas Bros. store, just one of 30-plus stores in one of the Tampa area’s first large, air-conditioned malls. The store later merged with Burdines, and then was acquired by Macy’s. As the years passed, the wider mall grew up around the site.

Walking through the 236,000-square-foot, three-story Macy’s on Thursday, O’Rourke pointed out example after example of the upgrades.

For professional and more affluent women, there is now a new MAC Cosmetics store-within-a-store on the first floor, and upper-tier purse brands like Michael Kors and Coach have been moved out from behind locked glass, and hung out in the open. “It matters when you can touch and feel a purse and see how the pockets work,” O’Rourke said.

The Junior’s department was moved upstairs so the men’s shoes and suits area could be expanded – basically because men like their items right at the entrance. There’s also a new slim-fit suit brand called Bar III.

Up on the second floor, Macy’s built out a Nespresso coffee machine bar, and has staff making coffees and lattes on site for customers to sample. Also, there is a new women’s BCBG Max Azria shop and there are several new brands like Miss Me jeans, Else, Sanctuary, Splendid, and QMack.

There is also a new area for the (free) “Macy’s By Appointment” desk, where on-site staff can handle personal shopping, said Store Manager Penny Parker. “They can keep track of just what you like, and call you when something special goes on sale,” Parker said. “And there are private fitting rooms there for you to try everything on.”

Macy’s overall could use a boost. Just this week, the company with more than 800 stores in 45 states posted an earnings report that surprised Wall Street with lower than-anticipated results – the first in 24 straight quarters of beating expectations.

“We are disappointed by the results,” said Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren, citing what he saw as “continuing uncertainty” among shoppers about spending on discretionary items.

Extra services like “By Appointment” are a big part of the company’s drive to connect more directly with individual shoppers – getting to know their likes and preferences and buying histories. Any sales staffer can now look up what a given customer bought recently, help them pick an item online, and directly ship it to their home if necessary.

Macy’s has plenty of company in the retail market in facing some uphill struggles. Even the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., recently posted unexpectedly low profits and company executives lowered revenue and profit forecasts for the year.

rmullins@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7919

Twitter: @DailyDeadline

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