ALBANY — The Albany Mall’s Belk store “reopened” to over 100 customers on Thursday, revealing a new look for the store.

Everyone who came through the doors received gift cards ranging in worth from $5 to $500 as well as refreshments. After renovations and installing new equipment, Belk allowed customers to see the changes.

“I’m excited about the holiday season,” Store Manager Michael King said. “We’re really set up to kind of gear into the new electronics. We’re diving into gaming this year; we’re diving into the smart home appliances — the Google Home and everything that’s out there.

“We’re excited about that, and we’re just excited about the future. We just keep reinventing ourselves (with) the technology.”

King mentioned that customers can now buy products online and pick them up in the store, and that the new registers will help “streamline” the checkout process.

Cynthia Fannon, Belk’s sales support team lead, spoke about the renovations done to the store.

“We’ve got all the carpets redone, we’ve redone all our dressing rooms, (there’s) fresh paint, we’ve relaid the store,” Fannon said. “There’s so much going on that we want everyone to know about. We have a new section towards the front for juniors that is absolutely beautiful that we want everybody to learn about. … We’re very excited that we have some new and innovative ideas, so we’re kind of wanting to get some new blood into the store.”

After a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Camp Arrow representatives received a $5,000 check to help the organization pay for a six-day camp during the first week of June for up to 40 special needs children.

A representative from the camp, Becky Christo, said the leaders typically try to raise more than $50,000 to cover all the expenses.

“We have to have medical supplies, food, money to go on these trips, for buses to take us to the movies,” Christo said. “We do everything, and (the children) spend the night. It’s the only camp in southwest Georgia where special needs kids actually spend the night for a week.”

Christo added that some of the camp’s activities include a dance, fishing and canoeing.

Tiny Wright, an Albany shopper, said she liked the way Belk rearranged the store and noticed a change in both quality and price.

“I like what I see now,” Wright said. “Anytime you remodel a store, your prices are going to go up. But along with their prices, their quality went up, too, because it had gone down. I’d stopped coming in here.”

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Jada Haynes is a news reporter for the Albany Herald. Writing is one of her greatest joys. Anything from a report to a feature to a homebrew RPG campaign, she'll write it up.