Saturday, January 20, 2018
Business

Macy's finishes overhaul of key WestShore Plaza store in Tampa

TAMPA

One of Florida's oldest Macy's stores has a new, multimillion-dollar look.

The 46-year-old Macy's at WestShore Plaza has completed a yearlong renovation project designed to appeal to younger shoppers and better serve the store's business customers.

"This is the most extensive remodel we've done in Florida this year," said Lee O'Rourke, Macy's district vice president in charge of area stores. "It says a lot to our customers and the community about how important this store is to us.''

Macy's started the renovations last year in the women's shoe department and this week put the finishing touches on the expanded cosmetics area. Officials wouldn't say how much the improvements cost except that it was in the ''multimillions."

Upgrades extended throughout the 236,000-square-foot store, the largest of the eight Macy's department stores and two furniture centers in the Tampa Bay area. Macy's added marble flooring and LED lighting to the first and second floors, rearranged some departments and modernized the bathrooms and fitting rooms. The result is a brighter, shinier store with more selling space and merchandise grouped by brand name, much like JCPenney's new mini shops.

Most notable are the expanded handbag, makeup and sunglass sections on the ground floor. Macy's moved the juniors apparel section to the second floor with the rest of women's clothing and tore down walls to create a more open floor plan. The store also removed the display cases for Coach and other high-end purses and created an "Impulse" beauty section where shoppers can buy makeup off the shelves, rather than ask a salesperson behind a counter. For the first time, the store carries MAC Cosmetics.

To cater to men working in the nearby West Shore Business District and downtown Tampa, the store doubled the size of its men's shoe department and expanded the clothing selection. For quick access from the parking lot, it moved the suits to a coveted spot next to a door.

Even the mannequins are new. Macy's ditched the traditional human forms with wigs and makeup for sleek, faceless figures to better highlight the clothing.

The changes had been in the works for a few years and mark the most significant overhaul to the store since it opened in 1966. Updating the bathrooms and several other changes came in response to customer feedback.

Store officials expect the renovations to boost sales as retailers enter the critical Christmas shopping season. The upgrades come at a crucial time for the Cincinnati-based chain, which on Wednesday reported lower-than-expected sales for the second quarter, sending stock prices down by as much as 5 percent.

With nearly $28 billion in sales last year, the company operates the Macy's and Bloomingdale's brands with about 840 stores in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico.

The WestShore store will celebrate its new look with a ribbon cutting, celebrity appearances and store specials on Aug. 24.

Susan Thurston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 225-3110.

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