15158 Fri, 09/05/2008 - 1:11pm
The home department of ShopKo’s new prototype in Green Bay, Wis., takes a cue from specialty-store retailing and is striking a resonant chord with shoppers.
“It’s doing better than the other home stores” in the 136-unit, Midwestern discount chain, Rod Ghormley senior vice president and general merchandise manager of home, told HFN.
The prototype bowed in March and introduces a more feminine color scheme, softer lighting designed to romance the merchandise and an airier feel that “invites [shoppers] to peruse the store,” he said.
In the new layout, home is the biggest department and has been moved to the perimeter of the store surrounding apparel, which has been relocated to the center.
A typical ShopKo store is divided in half, with home on one side and apparel on the other.
“Home built around the edges of the store allowed us to space the home floor more effectively, and not have so many deep valleys,” Ghormley said.
Home gondola runs have been shortened to 12 feet from 24 feet, and aisles have been widened. “The biggest compliment from customers [on the new home prototype] is they’ve asked if we carry this home assortment in other stores,” Ghormley said. “It’s really the same assortment, it’s just presented differently, which made home look fresh and new to them.”
The furniture and housewares departments reflect the boldest changes.
Housewares now features fixtures atypical of a mass merchant, including butcher-block display tables that serve as a focal point, as well as Metro racks topped with vendor signage behind them. The result is “more of a specialty store presentation,” Ghormley said.
The retailer removed some gondolas, “sacrificing capacity so we could make better statements.” That way in tabletop, for example, display tables can better spotlight brands, patterns or themes.
The retailer won a Global Innovator award for the housewares department, Ghormley said.
At the same time, ShopKo tested Gourmet, a new private-label cookware and small electrics collection that is being positioned as aspirational product.
Gourmet has been a big success and was rolled out to all ShopKo stores in April, Ghormley said.
Like housewares, a revamped furniture section is a departure from a mass merchant’s approach to the ready-to-assemble business and is more akin to a specialty home store.
“We’ve done more lifestyle settings,” Ghormley said. “We continue to see [sales] increases in furniture, which is surprising,” given the trouble the industry is in, he said. Home textiles is still a work progress.
ShopKo is working on improving its soft home presentation and beefing up its fashion offerings. The introduction this fall of textiles programs from Rachael Ray and Kathy Ireland should help the retailer make that leap, he said.
Elements of the new home layout have been rolled out to about 40 stores.
ShopKo’s prototype has prompted home vendors to do a double take.
“The new store opened the eyes of some people as to where we’re taking the business, and they liked what they saw,” Ghormley said.
“We’re having some good conversations with vendors about adding some aspirational, national brands” that would have to date been off-limits to the discounter, he said.
Indeed, ShopKo sees an opportunity to go after some of the moderate, national home brands that the big national chains such as Kohl’s and J.C. Penney have left behind.“We feel that’s an opportunity,” Ghormley said.