DO DEPARTMENT STORES have a future? “I can’t help wondering if the decline of local brands didn’t sever some psychic bond people had formed with the very concept of department stores. In the short run, I’m sure they made money streamlining the brands, but in the end they made them interchangeable and rootless.” Yeah, when Proffitt’s in Knoxville turned into a Belk’s, I found I liked ’em less.