By Kevin Collison
Halls, downtown’s largest retail store, is revamping its operation at Crown Center, adding more luxury goods, dropping its cosmetics and home décor merchandise, and shrinking its size by about 22 percent.
The changes to the store, which opened at its current site four years ago, are in response to the changing tastes of consumers, which include a growing number of people who live and work in greater downtown.
“We find things that our customers don’t value as much as they used to,” said Kelly Cole, Halls president and CEO. “We’re eliminating some categories and investing in others because customers say we want more of this.”
Cole said the store will add new brands in women’s and men’s apparel and accessories to include even more high-quality items that are unique in the Kansas City market.
To facilitate the renovation, the store will temporarily relocate to another part of Crown Center after the holiday shopping season. The renovation of the existing space is expected to take about two months.
When it reopens, the store will have shed about 12,000 square feet to 43,000 square feet, still leaving it the largest retailer downtown.
Cole said Halls, while remaining a regional draw, has benefited from the revitalization of downtown in recent years. The department store closed its Country Club Plaza location in 2016.
“We have shoppers from all over the metro, but we’ve gone to great lengths to attract people who live and work within a five mile radius of Crown Center,” he said.
“We’ve cultivated a new base of customers and with all the new residents and a lot more employment downtown, we’ve been able to feed off that.”
He added the opening of the streetcar line, which currently ends at Union Station near Crown Center, provided a “very nice pop of business.”
The reformulation of the merchandise mix is intended to continue to make Halls a top destination for shoppers seeking unique and high-end goods, he said.
“We like to say we’re Kansas City’s local style destination for unique merchandise wrapped with Kansas City hospitality,” Cole said.
He added his store also has responded to the restrictions posed by the Covid-19 pandemic by making it easier for customers to shop virtually.
“Covid has opened our eyes,” he said “We have invested more in our social media platforms and have had a lot of good response selling merchandise that way.”
Halls also has added curbside pickup for customers uncomfortable coming into the store for their purchases.
“Our style experts are much more savvy working with customers,” he said.
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