Thursday, November 20, 2008

Reinventing Kohl’s

Kohl’s local makeover somehow slipped up on me.

Because one of the company’s stores in Lincoln, Neb., is located very near my house, it is a fairly routine stop for me for purchases such as young men’s jeans and shorts for my son, junior tops for my daughter, and candles and sterling silver earrings for me.

I never ventured much beyond those base purchases because, frankly, I haven’t been a fan of the other categories sold at Kohl’s.

However, the company is making headway toward changing my mind.

I stopped in over the weekend and, though I had been vaguely aware of some facade updates (I remember skirting some outdoor tarps on a visit a few months ago, but I was in a hurry and didn’t pay much attention.), I hadn’t noticed much going on inside.

Until this weekend. I charged through the front door with one thing on my mind: buy a couple of Yankee Candles with a sale coupon I had in my purse.

When I arrived my destination—or, rather, what used to be the location of the candle supplies—I stopped short. The candles were gone. For the first time, I opened my eyes and looked around. The store was different—very different.

Before I realized what was happening, I was browsing. Please understand that I never browse at Kohl’s. It’s just not my browsing spot. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what I did. I ambled through housewares, making mental notes of some potentially great Christmas gifts for family members. I found a few placemats on a clearance table—and I snagged two of them. I finally made it to the relocated candle display area, but not before browsing the Christmas decor.

I checked out with just a few purchases—two candles and my prized clearance placemats—but with a mental list to return when I had lots more time to look around.

I read an article recently that Kohl’s had just celebrated its 1,000th store milestone, opening on Oct. 1 its 1,000th store and reiterating its plans to introduce innovation through store design, store remodels and evolution of the in-store experience.

I would say that, at least in one market and with this one customer, Kohl’s plans are working.

—Katherine Field

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