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If You're Struggling... Don't Make It Hard for People to Buy Stuff   13 comments

Posted at 4:15 pm in commentary

Retail 101, you might think.

I need a gift for this weekend, and thought a pair of binoculars might be nice. As I was eating lunch at Ruby Tuesday, I decided I might as well check out K-Mart since it was right across the street, and on my way home. I didn't really expect a good result, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The place was like an uninhabited cavern, with seemingly about 5 employees in the whole store. The binoculars, as it turned out, were in Sporting Goods rather than cameras and electronics, and the section was completely unstaffed. Of course the half-way decent looking ones were all in a locked case, and totally unmarked as to price. (And all, even the best looking ones, were blister-packed -- Not the "classy" effect I wanted, or as easy to wrap as a boxed item, but I was willing to live with it).

I stood for about 10 minutes with no employees in the area and no bell or buzzer for the counter. When I looked further, there didn't seem to be any employees in that entire quadrant of the store. Finally I gave up and started walking out. As I passed Electronics the guy there asked me if I needed help finding anything, at which point I complained I needed someone to sell me something. He called on the PA for an associate to Sporting Goods, so I went back there and waited another 10 minutes, then left. That's a purchase going to Target, Wal-Mart or at any rate someone else..

Written by ted on June 1st, 2011

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13 Responses to 'If You're Struggling... Don't Make It Hard for People to Buy Stuff'

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  1. Judging from the picture, this appears to be the Kmart at 4400 Ft. Jackson Blvd (Store #4043) which
    has a website of its own

    When the Dutch Square Kmart closed, several people mentioned that they thought this particular Kmart was showing signs of age worse than the others.

    A neighbor of my late grandmother's shopped here a lot but she (the neighbor) passed away last summer.

    Several folks I recall think that Kmart is past their prime. My mom likes shopping there. Sometimes I can get what I need, sometimes I can't...it seems to vary sometimes.

    The Seven Oaks Shopping Center Kmart (store #7410, 6169 St. Andrews Road) is in decent shape (the best of all of them) but the others are a tad below it seems. While they are clean, something does feel a tad dated on most of them.

    The one in Lexington (Store #7616) has a Kmart Cafe that allows one to enjoy lunch at Kmart (but noone in my family seems too interested in that).

    It seems to me that while the Kmarts here are holding on somehow, I don't know how much longer they can hold on. Furthermore, I don't think Kmart has opened up any new locations in recent years and something appears to be up with that to me for some reason.

    Andrew

    1 Jun 11 at 11:36 pm

  2. Isn't Kmart part of Sears now?

    JBL

    1 Jun 11 at 11:55 pm

  3. @JBL, per Kmart's Wiki page Kmart and Sears merged in 2004, two years after filing for bankruptcy

    Andrew

    2 Jun 11 at 12:09 am

  4. I guess I worded my question wrong, Andrew. I kinda' knew that, what I meant was, how does that merger relate to Ted's experience and your experience as described in your reply.

    JBL

    2 Jun 11 at 1:56 am

  5. I think of this store as MY K Mart, as my family and I have been shopping there since 1965 at least. It has gone through oh so many changes over the years. Anyone remember the Red Grille lunch counter? or the three for a dollar bologna sandwiches on hamburger buns? They were great!

    I was talking a couple of years ago to a lady who had worked there as long as I can remember and told her how long I had been coming to the store. She calmly said "I know. I've watched you grow up."

    Anyway, I'm in there two or three times a month and what I love is that you can zoom in grab your stuff and zoom out. Don't have to hike across five acres of burning asphalt to get to the door. Don't have to fight your way through a parade of other shoppers. Don't have to stand in line behind someone buying a year's worth of groceries and a set of snow tires. There's no amateur freak show of auditioners for peopleofwalmart.com

    K Mart's corporate woes have had three results at this store -- they actually keep the lights dimmer, and they turn back the AC, and as you saw there are far fewer employees. As long as you know that going in you can work with it. Sometimes I just grab someone from up front and take them with me on the way in, especially to the garden dept.

    One last thing -- a great outcome of the Sears/K Mart merger is that K Mart now has Craftsman tools! At K Mart prices!

    Dennis

    2 Jun 11 at 6:18 am

  6. I have fond memories of the Ft. Jackson BLVD store as my grandmother used to take me there to by Matchbox cars when I was little. She was somewhat of an Anglophile, and iat that time Matchboxes were made in England. Must have had three hundred or so of the things, going back to the pre-superfast days.

    I also bouhgt my Walkman there; it was the last one sold with just the cassette player.

    I miss the huge windows that used to be across the front of the store. You could see the entire product line when you drove up. i know it wasn't energy efficient, but it sure was cool.

    I use the Kmart over on Charleston HWY now. They cut off the AC and it is freaking miserable inside there. But it is convenient, and you generally don't have to wait in line. I do miss their cafe. i used to go in occasionally and get breakfast ir an occasional burger w/fries during my unemployed phase. It was cool to listen in on the manager's Friday morning meeting.

    tonkatoy

    2 Jun 11 at 6:34 am

  7. Yeah, I guess if I hadn't wanted something from a locked case, I could have been in and out pretty fast..

    ted

    2 Jun 11 at 10:01 am

  8. If I remember corect-a-tect-ley, the Ft. Jackson Kmart was the first one in Columbia and opend in 1963. The Carolina Skateing Rink was across the street from it as well as the drive-in. Now THAT was a long time ago. Not that I would remember.

    Del Bazemore

    2 Jun 11 at 11:58 pm

  9. Oh, and if I remember right also, the Ft. Jackson Blvd side of town had the first Burger King, Hardees, McDonalds and A&W Rootbeer Drive-In.

    Del Bazemore

    3 Jun 11 at 12:01 am

  10. Definitely the first McDonalds. About where the current one is, but closer to the street, and I think with a walk-up window. At one time, they would give a free hamburger to anyone who got all 'A'-s on a report card.

    I think the Hardee's was the Eggroll Station building, knocked down a few years ago.

    ted

    3 Jun 11 at 12:30 am

  11. This Kmart is by far one of the worst that I've ever been in as a vendor. I stopped going there in 2003, and by some stroke of luck I was assigned to go back there last year and absolutely nothing had changed. It's amazing this one is still open. Of all of them, I thought this one would have closed before the others.

    Jason

    3 Jun 11 at 5:21 am

  12. @Del. The First BK was on Two Notch, near Beltline. It is still there.

    Tom

    3 Jun 11 at 9:34 am

  13. Yeah, the BK Lounge replaced the A&W after it burned down.

    tonkatoy

    3 Jun 11 at 11:13 am

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