Mahnaz Alipour was among the first in a line of about 100 people waiting Wednesday morning to get a peek of the newly upgraded Belk store at Northgate Mall.
"It's my favorite store," the Chattanooga shopper said as she stood outside for about an hour to receive one of 400 gift cards given to Belk shoppers.
A Belk official said the just-finished $3.5 million renovation of its store will bolster the shopper's experience.
"You'll see a bright and lively store," said store manager Martin Nobles just prior to the doors' opening.
The work is the first major revamp of the store since the late 1990s.
Belk moved its home shop from the other end of the mall to the inside of its main 113,000-square-foot store. Belk opened a new kids shop near the store's main entrance.
In addition, Belk is offering expanded merchandise, including new brands and shoe styles, accessories and fashion apparel.
"There are brand-new additions," Nobles said. "There are many new fashion vendors."
The interior received new lighting and flooring, updated display fixtures, tile flooring and ceilings with energy-efficient lighting.
City Councilwoman Pam Ladd said Belk's investment shows that Hixson is a place to grow a business.
"This will be the first of many ribbon-cuttings as we grow retail and office space," she said.
Belk presented a $5,000 check to the MaryEllen Locher Foundation, a Chattanooga-based national scholarship program for children who have lost a parent to breast cancer or have one who's a survivor of the disease.
Sandra Brewer, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of member services, cited mall owner CBL & Associates Properties Inc.'s purchase of the shopping center last year.
"It will help the area grow and prosper," she said.