Editor's note: This story is from the BH News Service archives. The story first published on November 9, 1988.
William T. Dillard Sr. opened the 146th department store with his name on it Wednesday in the Mall of the Bluffs, the first in Iowa, and said there are more to come.
Dillard, founder and chairman of the Little Rock, Ark., chain, participated in opening ceremonies at the Council Bluffs shopping center.
"This is our first store (in Iowa), but I will assure you it will not be our last," Dillard told about 1,000 people who were poised at the Dillard doors.
"We're happy to be here. The merchandise and prices in the store are identical to (those at Dillard's) St. Louis and Kansas City, so we hope that a lot of you who have been trading in other places will now shop here in this store."
The 105,000 - square - foot store is the second Dillard's store in the area. The company opened its first store in Omaha at the Crossroads Mall in August.
"On a scale of one to 10, I think we're doing about seven or eight (in business at Crossroads)," Dillard said in an interview. "We're not doing super, but we're not doing bad."
(Tuesday in Lincoln, commenting on the Crossroads store, he said, "That store is doing very well - in fact, it's done better already than we had thought.)Started 50 Years Ago
Dillard said that he expects sales for the Christmas shopping season to be 7 percent to 8 percent greater than last year, "about what it has been all year."
Dillard, 73, started the department store chain 50 years ago in a small Arkansas town and has seen it grow to one of the leaders in the retail industry.
"Ever since I started in business I've had a philosophy - that you either grow or wither away," he said.
Dillard said he is not too concerned that his company will become a target for acquisition by outsiders in the current takeover mania.
"More than 20 years ago I didn't know what I was doing - I was just lucky," he said. "I set up two classes of stock. My family owns 99 percent of what amounts to the majority of stock, which is Class B stock.
"We can elect two - thirds of the directors. Unless we make a mistake and select the wrong directors I don't think we're vulnerable to a takeover. I think maybe our employees like that. At least they know who they are going to be working for."
In a ceremony before the Dillard's opening, General Growth Companies of Des Moines, one of the owners of Mall of the Bluffs, held what executives called a grand reopening of the center.
The event was held in the new 50,000 - square - foot addition that connects Dillard's to the existing mall.
Jon Batesole, president of General Growth, told the audience, "Right behind you, one of these days we'll be building a fourth department store. I'm making that commitment today. We hope it will be sometime in the very near future."
Besides Dillard's, other department stores at the 650,000 - square - foot center include J.C. Penney and Target.
General Growth said 119 shops are open at the center, with another 16 planned or preparing to open. The center, at 1751 Madison Ave., employs 1,500 people.
"What you see here today is an investment in free enterprise," Batesole said. "Millions of dollars of private capital were invested in this mall. There were no government subsidies, no public loans."
Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan welcomed Dillard's to the area.