By Stephen Singer

Daily Journal

McRae’s department store at the Mall at Barnes Crossing in Tupelo will nearly double its size in an expansion late this year into retail space Kmart will abandon.

McRae’s, which now occupies 100,000 square feet, will acquire 86,000 square feet, parent company Proffitt’s Inc. announced Tuesday.

McRae’s will hire up to 50 additional sales personnel, said store manager Larry Armstrong. The store now employs 150 salespeople, he said.

Rather than provide one large retail space, McRae’s will offer customers two stores: The men’s and home departments will be in what is now Kmart, and women’s and children’s clothing, accessories, and special sizes will be in remodeled space now used by McRae’s, Armstrong said.

The Proffitt’s division operates six such “dual concept” stores in Tennessee and Virginia, Proffitt’s said in its announcement.

McRae’s also will add an assistant manager and an area sales manager who will oversee store areas, Armstrong said.

Kmart officials announced that store’s closing in mid-February, saying the store was not performing well in the local market. They had said the store was due to close April 16.

The expanded McRae’s is expected to be the second largest in sales volume among McRae’s 28 stores, Armstrong said. A McRae’s in Jackson ranks first.

The expansion is “very good news,” Armstrong said. “The business we’ve done here is great, but we outgrew the facilities. The store is too crowded.”

Renovations will not interrupt store operations, Armstrong said. Renovations in what is now Kmart will be completed by the end of August, Armstrong said. The revamped store will open in November, according to Proffitt’s.

Proffitt’s, based in Alcoa, Tenn., also announced the opening of a McRae’s in Selma, Ala., next month and two next year in Biloxi and Meridian.

Proffitt’s also operates 25 stores in its Proffitt’s division and 49 stores in its Younkers division.

McRae’s is based in Jackson and the Younkers headquarters are in Des Moines, Iowa.

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