I went back today for the first time since the change in ownership. It's disconcerting, to say the least. I'm sure I could get used to the new open layout, but the layout itself is not entirely logical. Cookware and utensils are grouped sometimes by manufacturer and only sometimes by function. That can make it difficult to search for a particular item. Spatulas are in at least 3 different places Only cheeses on sale have a price on the cheese tag. That means you have to pick up the wedges to find out the per pound price. There was only 1 person working the cheese counter and he was too preoccupied with something to notice that there were customers. It seems to me that the percentage of housewares and "lifestyle" items has risen distinctly, while there are fewer choices among the specialty foods. Oddly enough, a good number of the food products they carry can be found on the shelves of our regular grocery stores, frequently at much lower prices. There are many fewer employees than in the past, too. Unfortunate in a store that prides itself on customer service.
In general, it appears that the inventory is significantly reduced while the prices are much higher. I also spoke with someone at the kitchenware store in the mall and she said she had noticed an increase in her business since the changes at Southern Season. I'm not at all surprised.
I've always liked Southern Season and considered it a fun place to shop for items I couldn't find elsewhere. Not so much anymore, I'm sorry to say.
Oh, and when I got home I noticed that I had not been charged the sale price for one of the cheeses I bought. I had specifically asked about the price and was told that the register would charge the sale price. It didn't. To SS's credit, when I called the store they charged back the difference to my credit card without question. Still, it should not have happened in the first place.