Sears Quietly Testing New Kmart Concept

The Chicago Tribune has a nice scoop about Sears testing a new Kmart concept at two locations. They've been very quiet about it. The story takes a while to actually get around to describing the meat of the new concept. But here's the description the paper offers:

In what appears to be a nod to rival Target, Kmart has reorganized its test store in Rockford to make it easier to shop: painting the perimeter walls vibrant colors, installing lower shelves so customers can see across the entire store at once, moving dressing rooms from dingy corners to the middle of the floor, putting the toy department next to children's clothing and installing price scanning stations.

At the front of the store, two flat-screen televisions run promotions describing the newly remodeled store. Off to the side, a "Just Ask" help station set up to resemble a row of bank tellers is ready to recommend a handyman, book a delivery service, find a part or set up a baby or bridal gift registry.

So far, shoppers seem to be overlooking the TV screens, and the response to the service desk has been mixed, McGuire said. On the other hand the lower shelf heights have fared well and Kmart has rolled them out to 100 stores.

Perhaps the most risky experiment is in the middle of the store where Kmart cleared space for a "marketplace" filled with constantly changing seasonal goods, such as beach towels and flip-flops for under $10. The merchandise is displayed on wheeled carts reminiscent of a farm stand with plenty of room for shoppers to stroll about.

(Spotted at Keypoint Partners Retail Roundup)

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