By Ron VandenBoom
Karate demonstrations, Indian youth dancers, and a myriad of giveaways signaled the transformation of the old Kmart store into the new and improved Big Kmart.
Saturday and Sunday marked the kick off of a month-long grand reopening at the Havre store. Scavenger hunts sponsored by Coca Cola, a mountain bike giveaway, and a cookie stacking contest, were just a few of the events planned as part of the weekend hoopla that celebrated a new look, a new name, and the addition of The Kmart Pantry.
The Kmart Pantry is an expansion of what store manager Steve Harr said are the best selling items in the grocery line.
Kmart is now in the business of selling milk, bread, eggs, cheese, and an expansion of the can goods and dry goods section too, he said.
Six counters, each about 60 feet in length, replaced the old, much shorter counters to compose the Pantry that now carries everything from coffee to frozen pizza.
It makes Kmart a more convenient place to shop, Harr said, noting that shoppers no longer need to make two stops when they go shopping. And the employees love it, too.
The remodeling may be centered around the Pantry, but the whole purpose of the Big Kmart is to produce a store with a little wider aisles that are a lot brighter and cleaner looking, Harr said. Toward that end, one foot of space has been added to each side of the main aisles and a new brighter type of light bulb has been installed in the fixtures.
Some departments have been moved completely and others in the store have been expanded or reduced. We tried to eliminate a lot of negative space, Harr said.
Harr said the new layout was derived from surveys Kmart conducted with its core customers.
This is a store thats actually built around the customers and what they liked and didnt like and what they wanted to see in the way of merchandise, Harr said.
Another new addition at the Havre Big Kmart is Kmart Solutions, a computerized shopping catalog that currently only exists in about 400 of Kmarts 2,300 stores.
Three Kmart Solutions terminals are located throughout the store that customers can use to look up items that may not be on the shelves big screen TVs, special CDs, washers and dryers, automotive, or even gift ideas. The items can then be paid for at Big Kmart and the item is shipped directly to the customers door.
Special sale items can also be found on Kmart Solutions and the sales staff has learned how to work the machines and is willing to help customers find what they need.
Its expanded our inventory without adding to our investment and it gives a wider selection to our customers, Harr said, and its pretty simple to use.
The grand reopening celebration will continue through the month of August and something will be given away every day during the reopening.
Harr said those who have already had their names drawn will have their names put back in the bucket and it will be possible to win more than once.