Photo: Chris Stephens Folks gather outside Belk for the 125 Anniversary Celebration on Wednesday morning.
BUFORD -- Belk celebrated its 125th anniversary in grand style Wednesday, hosting an event to thank the public for its continued support at its Mall of Georgia location.
Store manager Tim Barrett said that after 125 years the company is still family owned, holding onto the same principles from when William Henry Belk started the company in 1888.
"It's been family-owned since Day 1," Barrett said. "That says a lot about what the company represents. It's something I take a lot of pride in."
To celebrate its birthday, Belk gave gift cards (ranging from $5 to $100) to the first 100 customers who came in the door. The Mountain View High School band also performed for the crowd and Belk presented a $25,000 check to the Gwinnett Braves for Education Day, which is held every year at Coolray Field.
Barrett said in his 15 years at Belk, there are two principles that have always held true.
"Take care of our customers like they are family and take care of our people working here," he said. "Keeping those two things in mind is what has allowed this company to stay successful after 125 years."
For Sugar Hill resident Mary Kach, the customer service provided at Belk is what keeps her coming back.
"I've been shopping at this location ever since it's been here," she said. "It's a wonderful experience coming here every time. I have a disability and their associates are always willing and ready to help me."
Kach admits that her second home is in the children's section with seven grandchildren ranging from 14 months to 13 years old.
"The good prices and the friendly associates are what keeps me coming back," she said.
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners chairman Charlotte Nash said she remembers shopping at Belk on the Lawrenceville square when she was a young girl.
"My mother made most of our clothes, but we would occasionally get new dresses and Belk is where we'd go," Nash said. "That was back in the days of lay-a-way when Mom would pay a few bucks every week to (eventually) buy the clothes for the next school year."
With its prime location off Interstate 85 and in the largest mall in the Southeast, Barrett said Belk will continue to support the community.
"Our community is important to us," he said. "Without it, we wouldn't be here."