All fashionable eyes are on new Saks Fifth Avenue general manager Joel Ellzey, 44, as he transports the über-chic department store across town to the University Town Center, set to open in 2014. Ellzey comes to Sarasota from the Tampa Saks, which recently closed, making ours even more of a regional destination, he says.
Tell us about the new store. “We’re doubling in size to 80,000 square feet and we’ll offer a wide assortment of additional designers. We will reintroduce a men’s department and have an in-store restaurant and a Saks Fifth Avenue Club. The most exciting addition is the 10022-Shoe department modeled after our New York store, which will house the largest luxury assortment of women’s shoes in our region.”
How does Sarasota differ from Tampa? “Sarasota is much more philanthropic. Over the past 12 weeks I’ve attended more than 25 social events. Tampa is more of a business environment.”
Who’s your competition? “Everyone. Our client can shop anywhere in the world, either in brick-and-mortar stores or online. It comes down to the experience and the service we deliver.”
Down time? “I love being outdoors, whether kayaking or the beach. I grew up close to the Gulf coast in Mississippi. It’s so nice to be back on the west coast of Florida and be close to the Gulf here.”
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