At a time we are recognizing historic Civil War sesquicentennial events and other historic and important anniversaries, we should never forget to recognize the backbone of our country, the entrepreneurs who started businesses, weathered economic chaos and persevered.
On Wednesday, Belk celebrated 125 years of business.
Since 1888, Belk, a North Carolina-based department store chain, has adapted to the economic climate, grown, prospered and served hundreds of communities, including Culpeper.
Some larger chains have downsized, folded or teeter on the edge of bankruptcy. But Belk has shown resilience for more than a century.
In 1888, William Henry Belk had a vision. He followed his dreams, worked hard and managed to see his dream prosper and grow. He opened his first store in Monroe, N.C., using $750 in savings, a $500 loan and obtaining $3,000 worth of goods on consignment.
At about the same time, William Belk convinced his physician brother, Dr. John Belk, to join him as a partner.
The Belk bothers wanted to offer friendly service, fair prices and a commitment to community involvement.
Today, Belk operates more than 300 stores in 16 states, employing about 24,000 people. The first flagship Belk store was located in Charlotte, N.C. where the company moved its headquarters.
In the late 1996 to protect its territory from possible expansion by competitors, Belk purchased 42 Leggett stores in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware. At that time, Belk held 16 percent ownership interest in Leggett chain. Culpeper had a Leggett store that was located in the current post office building on North Main Street.
The local Belk stores not only offer a shopping opportunity for local customers but also give back to those same communities as well. During the companyâs last fiscal year, Belk associates, customers and vendors contributed more than $18 million dollars to local communities. Belk, which contributes 2.5 percent of its pretax income, sent $6.2 million of that total to 250 non-profits in it market areas.
Belk is the largest family-owned department store chain in the country. A third generation of the Belk family stands at the helm of this prospering chain, with Tim Belk serving as the current chairman and CEO.
The success of this franchise and its continued growth is testament to the vision of William Henry Belk. He took a chance that has paid dividends to its thousands of loyal customers.
Take time to reflect on that vision and how William Henry Belkâs vision has enriched our lives with quality products at a reasonable price.
You couldnât ask for a better business and community partner.