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Archive for Wednesday, May 20, 1998

S MERGER SURPRISES SHOPPERS

May 20, 1998

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The Jones Store will disappear as part of an acquisition announced Monday.

Kansas City, Mo. (ap) -- Shoppers in this metropolitan area were surprised -- and in some cases, upset -- at news the Jones Store Co. is about to be absorbed by Dillard's Inc.

``Say it isn't so!'' said Jennifer Clark, 26, of Liberty. ``I never shop at Dillard's, so I guess I'll be staying away from the Jones Store, too.''

Clark was shopping at Metro North Shopping Center, one of three malls in the area that house both a Dillard's and a Jones.

The Jones Store Co., part of Ohio-based Mercantile Stores Inc., has been one of the Kansas City area's best-known department store retailers for decades. Dillard's Inc. has agreed to buy Mercantile and plans to convert its stores to Dillard's.

Dillard's has eight stores in the Kansas City area and Topeka, Kan. Three of the area's largest malls include both a Dillard's and a Jones store.

Dillard's and Jones executives on Monday assured employees at the seven Jones stores that they would continue to have jobs.

The fate of Mercantile's regional offices, including one in Overland Park, Kan., with about 200 employees, is uncertain. A Dillard's executive said the retailer would try to hire some of the regional employees.

The deal will shake up the retailing scene in Kansas City, where Jones has been a premier chain for decades.

``I'm sick about it,'' said Carolyn Sterner of Kansas City, who was shopping at Jones at Metcalf South Shopping Center in Overland Park. ``We needed more competition in Kansas City.''

Barbara Salter of Overland Park, also shopping at Metcalf South, said: ``I always thought they were very similar anyway. But I'm sorry to see Jones going. Dillard's will have a monopoly.''

Wade Hankins Jr. of Blue Springs said it was just big business as usual.

``It's more of the same,'' Hankins said. ``Big banks all over are merging. Big businesses keep getting bigger. I expect these things all the time.''

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