Posted on Dec 03, 2018
President Jamie Mitchell presided over today’s meeting. Katie Anthony gave today’s invocation. Wes Brooks led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Thanks to Jamie Mitchell and Mark Killingsworth who served as our greeters today. Brandon Hodges thanked those who helped with today’s meeting and then introduced today’s guests. Scott Hummel has Gary Roberson and Mikaela Green at his guests today. Bill McLeod has Chandra Crane as his guest. Chandra is a prospective new member. Mike McPhail has Joe Bost as his guest today as well.
Our thanks to our own Mark Killingsworth and his guest, Greg Bryant, for providing our program last Tuesday.
L-R: Jamey Mitchell, Mark Killingsworth, and Greg Bryant.
Members were reminded that fruit sales finalize today. Those who have ordered can expect the products to be delivered within the next ten days. Jamie still needs four readers who can volunteer about an hour of their day on Saturday, December 8 to read for the children that will come through Toyota of Hattiesburg for Cookies and Milk with Santa. Every child that comes through that day will take a book home with them. He also reported that our club will ring the bells for the Salvation Army again this year. Details will be available next week. Volunteers are needed every Thursday for Christian Services’ Meals on Wheels program. Please go online and sign up to help serve our community.
Mark Killingsworth then introduced today’s guest speaker, Greg Bryant. Greg graduated from USM and is a native of the Hattiesburg area. He is the General Manager for Dillard’s at Turtle Creek Mall which opened in 1989. Mark retired from Dillard’s recently and will share in today’s presentation.
Dillard’s, which turns 80 years old today, was founded by William T. Dillard in 1938. He was born in Mineral Springs, Arkansas. His dad ran a retail store in that community and William wanted to get into the retail business. After graduating from college, he went through the Sears training program. Sears was the leading retail store in the early 1900s. After that training, he borrowed $8,000 from his father to buy his first store.
After three years, the store became profitable and he was able to begin expanding. Dillard’s continue to expand and was taken public on the American Stock Exchange in 1969. The Dillard family continues to hold 51% of all the stock and continue to be a vital part of the chain’s management. The company continued to expand and in the mid-’80s owned 148 stores. In 1992 they bought D.H. Holmes and in 1998 bought Mercantile. By then the store had expanded to 325 locations.
Today, Dillard’s has four divisions with the headquarters now being in Arkansas. Mr. Dillard’s grandchildren are now being groomed to take over the company.
Greg says the number one and unwavering Dillard’s philosophy is customer service and giving customers a quality product at a fair value. He says they remain 100% committed to customer service. And, just to ensure that philosophy, each store will have three or four visits from a family member each year.
Dillard’s carry Domestic and Exclusive brands. They also have Proprietary and Private brands which make up 50% of the chain’s business.
At their height, there were 1,600 malls in the United States. Today there are only 1,100 and Mark says his research indicates that 30% of those will close in the next five year. Dillard’s is somewhat protected in mall locations because they own the land and the store. When a mall closes, they sell the property back to the mall developer.
With the surge in online sales, all retail outlets continue to morph. However, it is believed that retail will always require brick and mortar. With $5 trillion in total retail sales, online sales only represent about $300 billion and Amazon controls about 50% of all internet sales. However, only about 20% of internet sales are apparel sales. Mark says customers need to touch and size their apparel purchases. In the future, he says you can expect Radio Frequency I.D. That app software can size you and fit you.

As today’s meeting concluded Jamie thanked today’s speakers and it was announced that long-time, former Rotarian Toxey Morris died this week. Jamie adjourned the meeting with our motto, service above self.