Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kudos to Kmart

I've had my ups & downs with Kmart over the years,* but since I don't shop at Target and don't really like the atmosphere at Wal-mart,** they are my go-to big box store, if I have to go to one. One bright thing they're doing: bringing back layaway.

I swear, I was just talking to someone about this not too long ago, and wondering when/if layaway would make a comeback (as far as I know, it's been gone from here for quite a while). It only makes sense to me for stores that are hurting - right along with the rest of us in this economy - to find a way to encourage sales while not driving people further into debt. It's actually very good business sense - at least to me - rather than pile on a bunch of charges to a card with high interest, people who are able & willing to plan ahead a little can shop now, pay a small fee (last time I did layaway it was $2-$3) and pay a little bit each check.

It's not a perfect solution. People can (& will) bail on their layaways.*** But the store will still have the product, and unless it's seasonal, can just pop it back on the shelves after the layaway expires. The stores have had to re-fit the areas they closed up ages ago, train and maybe hire staff (hopefully they just gave more hours to people whose hours they were previously cutting back). But I think they'll quickly find that it's worth it.

It's probable they aren't the first. They're the first in this area to advertise it, so they're on my radar.

*The store nearest me growing up was notorious for poor customer service. Then, for a few years, I worked at the old Kmart Global HQ. Not for the big K, but for their store brand facilitator, and across the street, not in the HQ (thank goodness! Have you ever seen that place? (couldn't find a better pic -- it's a monstrocity)) The best part about working there was being down the street from Somerset. Knowing what I know, I will totally buy store brand OTC drugs for colds and headaches, but not fem-hy products.

No more grocery shopping at Kmart, I'm sad to say. They sell hummus, but not pita bread, which is just weird and annoying. Because a friend worked at one of the stores, I won't buy milk there (at her store, the milk sat on a loading dock for the better part of a day); I did give the local Super Kmart a chance on that score, since it had been several years, but 3x in a row found tons of expired milk and gave up on that.

**Wal-mart fills a need, there is no doubt about it. But there's nothing like hearing a (pregnant)woman - with her tshirt tied under her boobs so the whole world can see her belly & stretchmarks (and the elastic on her panties) - and her husband fight over "diapers-or-beer?" to ruin a run to the store. Maybe it's just around here.

***How I got my wedding dress for $99. The bridal shop actually marked it for what was left on the bill. Most retailers pocket that $ and put it back on sale at regular price.

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