by Heather Rock Woods
The rumors were put to rest last week when Federated Department Stores Inc. finally confirmed it will close the 40-year-old Emporium at the Stanford Shopping Center to make way for Bloomingdale's, an upscale department store based in New York and Cincinnati. Stanford Shopping Center will have the only Northern California Bloomingdale's when the New York fixture moves west of the Rockies for the first time.
"Since there had been speculation about Bloomingdale's coming to Stanford, we have always been very excited about that opportunity," said Julie Pitt, marketing director for the Stanford Shopping Center. "Bloomingdale's really mirrors the tenants as well as customers and adds to the strength of the shopping center."
Council member Micki Schneider, who owns Spirals on University Avenue, responded enthusiastically to the news. "As a retailer and as a shopper, I really welcome a store of that quality," she said. "It's going to bring more people to Palo Alto, which I know won't sit well with people worried about traffic and crowding, but it will be a real boon to Palo Alto."
The Emporium was the anchor tenant when the Stanford Shopping Center opened in 1956 with 45 stores including a hardware store and a grocery store.
Federated recently acquired Emporium, Macy's and Broadway, and is phasing out the Emporium and Broadway names. The stores will become Macy's or Bloomingdale's, or be sold or closed.
The approximately 200 employees of the Stanford Emporium store, as well as 575 employees at the three Southern California locations that will converted into Bloomingdale's, "will be offered severance, outplacement, some company-paid health care premiums and the opportunity to apply for available positions in other Federated-owned stores in the area," according to the announcement made Dec. 27.
The various conversions and closures announced yesterday will result in 1,500 people losing their jobs, although 1,000 people will be hired at the four California Bloomingdale's when they open in November, said Federated spokeswoman Carol Sanger.
The management at Stanford Emporium referred media calls to Federated. Emporium stores are known for their moderately priced merchandise.
The downtown San Francisco Emporium, the city's oldest department store, will close in mid-March, putting 500 employees out of work. Plans for that site are not final, but many people have speculated that it will also become a Bloomingdale's. Other rumors have suggested a Bloomingdale's will replace the Emporium at Valley Fair Mall in San Jose.
A clearance sale is scheduled to begin at the Stanford Emporium in early January and run through late February or early March. The Emporium building, the largest store in the shopping center, will be renovated and Bloomingdale's will open for business in November 1996.
Stanford Shopping Center "has the right market demographics for an upscale, trendier department store," Sanger said.
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