Kansas City, Mo. Customers and employees of the Jones Store Co. aren't the only ones waiting to learn the plans of Dillard's Inc. for its new acquisitions. Competitors probably are, too.
In the Kansas City metropolitan area, where Jones has seven stores, and Topeka, Kan., with one Jones, the two retailers have competed for years. Now, Dillard's must decide what to do with the Jones properties.
If Dillard's keeps the stores, how will it use them? In some malls that house both a Dillard's and a large competitor that Dillard's has bought, Dillard's has maintained two branches, each devoted to certain merchandise such as men's and children's clothing.
That's a possibility in the three malls where Jones and Dillard's both have stores: Westridge Mall in Topeka, and Independence Mall and Metro North Shopping Center in Missouri.
Dillard's could also choose to sell some or all of the Jones properties. But to whom? Potential buyers, after all, could include other retailers who could be strong competitors to Dillard's.
Retail analyst Bob Mintz of Kansas City suggested a third possibility: Dillard's keeps the Jones name on one or more of its new properties.
``Jones has been a very, very popular store,'' Mintz said. ``I would be very reluctant to give up the Jones name without have very, very substantial reasons for doing it.''