Whether you know the department stores as Parisian or Carson's, they are relatively new additions to the Metro-Detroit area. Since the first Parisian Department store popped up in the area in 1993, however, the corporate history of the department stores at Laurel Park, the Village of Rochester Hills and Partridge Creek has been somewhat twisty.
Alabama Deparment Store Chain
The history of the Parisian Department Store is as fully developed as our own Detroit-established and beloved J.L. Hudson’s Department Store. It started out 130 years ago in Alabama and eventually became a family enterprise. As it evolved over the years, it found a niche as a medium-to-upscale store catering to a localized, southern clientele. The chain enjoyed a change in focus in the 1970s, however, with the leadership of Donald Hess, a grandson of the store’s 1920s owner. He put an emphasis on the store’s now renowned customer service –- “You’re Somebody Special at Parisian” -- when he took it public in the 1980s and launched its expansion into other states.
The first Parisian store in Michigan opened in Laurel Park Place in Livonia in 1993; but a series of mergers and acquisitions found the chain owned and operated by a series of mega chains like Saks, Inc. thereafter. In March of 2006, the Parisian chain was sold to Belk, Inc., and the majority of its stores were converted to the Belk brand. Five of the chain's 40 stores, however, were sold by Belk in October of 2006 to Bon-Ton Stores, Inc., including the Michigan stores at Laurel Park Place, The Village of Rochester Hills and the as-then-under-construction store at Partridge Creek in Clinton Township.
Ever heard of Bon-Ton?
If not, you would have had a hard time finding information about the three Parisian Department Stores in Detroit from 2006 to 2013. The nameplate only existed in Michigan. In fact the Parisian headquarters were located in Rochester Hills. Because the three Michigan stores represented such a small segment of the original brand and were ultimately owned by Bon-Ton Stores, Inc., their only website presence was that of Bonton.
Exclusive to Detroit
The irony is that the Parisian Department Store no longer exists in Alabama, the state in which the name carries 130 years of tradition and memory. Like our beloved J.L. Hudson Company that evolved into Dayton-Hudson’s and then was swallowed up in succession by bigger chains (Marshall Fields and Macy’s), Parisian is lost to posterity in Alabama. From 2006 to 2013, however, the three remaining Parisian Department Stores found a community in Michigan that missed its own regional chain and embraced a store that was, for one bright shining moment, exclusively Detroit’s.
Reflection of Hudson’s
Department Stores under the Bon-Ton umbrella - Carson Pirie Scott, Younkers -- traditionally retain their regional history and brand. This was no less true of the Parisian Department Stores, which were likened by Alabamaretail.org to Hudson’s, as well as Lord & Taylor and/or Nordstrom’s.
The Parisian nameplate was finally retired by Bon-Ton in January of 2013, when its license expired with Belk, Inc. The three Parisian stores are now known as Carson's Department Stores.
- Laurel Park Place, Livonia
- The Village at Rochester Hills
- The Mall at Partridge Creek, Clinton Township
The Carson's nameplate is a shortened version of Carson Pirie Scott, another regional chain under the Bon-Ton umbrella, and currently exists in several states. In addition to the renamed locations listed above, several other Carson's Department Stores are located within Michigan in Benton Harbor, Howell, Monroe and Port Huron.
- Customer Service
- Middle to High-end Department Store
- Bon-Ton website
- Wikipedia Bon-Ton
- Wikipedia Parisian
- Editorial regarding the closing of Parisian Department Stores in Alabama, The Thomasville Times (8/10/06)