Stein Mart and Parisian are coming to town.

"That news should make fashion-conscious women ecstatic," says Alan Millstein, a New York retail analyst who edits and publishes the Fashion Network Report.

He remembers Dayton in the '50s and '60s when Billy Lewis, a women's clothing store at the corner of First and Ludlow streets, catered to Dayton's fashionable women.

Stein Mart Inc., the 60-store off-price retailer that specializes in designer lines, is headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., and scheduled to open a store in Town & Country Shopping Center on Aug. 19.

Parisian Inc., a chain of 25 fashion specialty stores based in Birmingham, Ala., and primarily located in the southeast, is family owned and sells cosmetics, clothing, shoes and accessories for men, women and children.

The two-level, 130,000-square-foot store will become one of five anchors at The Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek. Grand opening is set for Oct. 27.

So what can shoppers expect from these two new major retailers?

About 1,500 Dayton shoppers already are acquainted with Parisian through their Cincinnati store, according to a company spokesperson. That store has done so well, they'll soon add two more stores, one at Beechmont Mall, another at Kenwood Mall.

Cincinnati's Parisian store is impressive, spacious and tastefully decorated. Dayton's store will be one of the largest in the chain, with a center core of escalators and a glass-enclosed elevator.

Expect to see lots of designer names. In handbags, there's Fendi, Brahmin, Coach, Paloma Picasso. In shoes, you'll see Ferragamo, Joan & David, Amalfi.

Dressing rooms are large and attractive. Salespeople at Parisian are knowledgeable and eager to help. They've obviously been well-trained.

If any item at Parisian is less expensive elsewhere, Parisian will meet the price. Dayton store manager Wes Weigel says the item must be exactly the same.

Those intoxicated by the combination of discount prices and upscale ambiance will be heading for Stein Mart. Dayton's Stein Mart store (36,000 square feet) is the first in this part of the country.

In each Stein Mart town, women active in the community are approached and hired to work one day a week in a special area of the store where designer merchandise is featured.

According to the Wall Street Journal, being hired at a Stein Mart can mean that "you have arrived, socially speaking."

Sally Robbins of Kettering has been asked to become one of the new store's Boutique Ladies, a concept chairman Jay Stein labels his "secret weapon."

Robbins sees her role as an ambassador of goodwill between the city and Stein Mart. She'll be one of 10 regulars in the department who is expected to call friends about new merchandise. "Boo ladies," as they're called, are paid by the hour and also receive an employee discount on merchandise.

Robbins, who previously lived in Jacksonville and still maintains a home there, says it's one of her favorite stores.

"When I saw they were coming (to Dayton,) I was thrilled," she says. In addition to clothing, she says the store is known for gifts and linens.

Stein Mart claims you'll save 25-60 percent on merchandise. The "comparable" price is on each tag. You'll recognize many labels but manufacturers sometimes create a new label so as not to offend regular retailers.

Millstein says Stein Mart and Parisian will go after "affluent working men and women" and won't affect sales at Dayton's major department stores. He adds that customers with a "high taste level" aren't shopping for their party clothes at stores such as Lazarus and Elder-Beerman.

The people at Elder-Beerman, which carries Mondi, Anne Klein, Laurel and DKNY, would disagree.

"We currently compete very favorably with Parisian at Forest Fair (in Cincinnati) and we compete favorably with discount retailers in all the 37 markets where we do business," says Milton Hartley, chairman and chief executive officer of Elder-Beerman Stores Corp.

Hartley says his stores will meet the new competition with aggressive promotion and will add new, high-fashion lines that satisfy customer needs.

One thing is certain: area consumers will benefit from the growing array of upscale possibilities.

[ILLUSTRATION] COLOR PHOTO: Parisian will be an anchor at The Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek