The store, which recently completed a $5 million renovation along with the Belk men's and children's store, gave away gift cards to the first 700 customers to mark a grand reopening.
Among the first in line was Melvin Campbell of Verona, who was assured of getting one of the gift cards, which ranged in value from $5 to $500.
"This is my auntie's favorite store, and it's why I'm here," he said. "She met the store manager a few years ago on a plane and noticed her Belk bag. They talked and became friends, and now every time she's in Tupelo, she goes shopping at Belk."
And with such a big investment in the stores at The Mall at Barnes Crossing, Belk manager Joel McKinley thinks it will pay off sooner rather than later.
"The company has made an investment in Tupelo and Lee County," he said. "Business has been very good throughout the renovation, and I know we've been very pleased with the results."
The women's store was completely gutted and renovated from floor to ceiling. An enlarged shoe department, an expanded cosmetics department that includes the Laura Mercier line and an 800-square-foot Coach handbag area are among the many improvements.
The cosmetics department received extra attention, with New York designers setting up the bays. The look at the Tupelo store is a new prototype, replicated only on the East Coast for now, McKinley said.
At the men's store, the Polo/Ralph Lauren department has doubled in size, and the children's section has been expanded to 10,000 square feet.
McKinley said the two Belk stores now encompass more than 190,000 square feet.
The work by Belk in its mall locations is part of renovation and expansion plan that has pumped some $20 million in capital investment in The Mall at Barnes Crossing since 2008.
Phil Purdom, senior vice president of development for mall co-owner David Hocker amp& Associates, said Belk's investment "proves that we have the most diverse retail mall serving all of North Mississippi and the region. They've been here more than 20 years and they'll be around at least another 20 years."
Belk - then called McRae's - was among the anchor stores when the mall opened in March 1990.
With the renovation to its two stores at the mall, Belk added some 30 workers and now employs 167 people. It will add another 30 employees for the holidays, McKinley said.
Belk's remodeling isn't the only work going on at the mall. Reed's recently completed an expansion of its store, and J.C. Penney is wrapping up a $1 million renovation of its store.
"Obviously, the mall is the center of retail for this region, and it proven by the expansions and upgrades that continually go on here," said Mall General Manager Jeff Snyder. "That in turn helps build the tax base of the city and county, so it's a great investment in the community."