MOUNT VERNON – Earlier this week, Texas-based Stage Stores announced it would open 74 Gordmans department stores across the country this summer, beginning in March. One of those stores will be in Mount Vernon; Stage Stores owns both Peebles and Gordmans department store chains, and the parent company said in a press release that the Peebles at 1548 Coshocton Ave. will be transitioned into a Gordmans by late June.
According to Elise Smith, manager of the Mount Vernon Peebles store, this changeover will mean more jobs for the Knox County community.
Smith told Knox Pages she has been tasked with hiring 23 new employees by the end of May. Peebles currently employs 12, Smith said, and Gordmans will employ 35. Those interested in applying for a position can visit Stage Stores’ website, then click on the Mount Vernon store location. All applications will be handled through the company’s website, Smith said.
While the location’s employment will nearly triple, Smith said she did not know if Gordmans would be acquiring additional space in the area. She believes Gordmans will need more employees to handle a “higher turnover of product” in the new store.
Gordmans is an off-price department store chain that Smith compared to T.J. Maxx, except with more products and lower prices. Stage Stores spokesperson Jenny Clifton said in a press release that the Gordmans chain is growing “in response to consumers enjoying its off-price offerings, which means bigger deals and smaller prices on a wide array of apparel and home décor items.”
“Gordmans, which has been delighting shoppers for more than 100 years, has fresh new merchandise deliveries arriving weekly,” Clifton said. “There will always be something new to discover when it comes to popular name brand apparel, home décor, footwear, gifts, accessories, fragrances and more for the whole family.”
Peebles functioned as a more traditional department store, offering a mix of apparel, accessories, cosmetics and household goods.
Carol Grubaugh, executive director of the Knox County Chamber of Commerce, said “the 23 positions that will be filled with Gordmans will have a positive impact on the area.”
“The Chamber of Commerce is glad to see that the space will continue to be occupied and provide a great service to Knox County,” Grubaugh said in an email. “Job creation is always great news for our community.”
Smith said she is already interviewing candidates for positions at the new store. The goal is to have new employees on-board well before the May deadline, she said, so they can help with the transition. The store will close for 10 days during the changeover process.
Those who currently work at Peebles will be offered “comparable positions” at Gordmans, Smith said. The store is currently having a clearance sale; most products are 40 percent off, while certain specialty brands are 20 percent off.
Gordmans stores will open in Bucyrus and Coshocton this summer as well, Clifton said. Most Gordmans stores are currently located in Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, with some stores scattered across the Great Plains region. There are currently none in Ohio.
RetailWire.com reported last week that Stage Stores plans to convert approximately 220 department stores to Gordmans by 2020. There are currently just 87 Gordmans stores in the U.S., as the chain is far outnumbered by other Stage properties, such as Peebles, Bealls, Goody’s and Palais Royal. By the end of 2020, Gordmans locations are projected to represent almost 50 percent of Stage’s total sales volume.
“For the last few years, the off-price sector has seen tremendous growth despite the challenges that have faced traditional retailers,” Michael Glazer, Stage’s president and CEO, told reporters on a quarterly conference call.
Stage Stores acquired Gordmans (originally based in Nebraska) in 2017 after the chain filed for bankruptcy. Since then, the parent company has converted the chain into a “true off-price concept,” Glazer told RetailWire.com.
Gordmans saw major sales growth in its small-market stores in 2018, Glazer said. Six of Gordmans’ small-market stores saw a 150-percent sales increase after the conversion.
Approximately 60 Gordmans stores are located in communities with populations below 50,000, RetailWire.com reported, and the majority of the chain's 74 conversions this summer will occur in similar markets.