The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

March 2, 2013

Ready, set, shop

Kohl’s new store opening Sunday

By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor

HERMITAGE — In more ways than one, when Kohl’s Department Stores opens its new Hermitage location at 9 a.m. Sunday it will be looking for the green.

To be sure, the more than 100 employees at the store will be handling crisp currency. But the opening also is the roll-out of a new format by the national retail chain, which features environmentally friendly lighting and a more visually appealing shopping experience.

In giving a tour of the 56,000 square-foot store on Friday, Bill Schutte, Kohl’s district manager, pointed to the ceiling.

“That’s all LED lighting,’’ Schutte said. “When we changed to LED lighting in our Niles (Ohio) store last year, we saved 35 percent in electric costs.’’

Another feature of the Hermitage store is electronic pricing. Items on racks have a small electronic monitor which displays the price. With the press of a button, the price can be adjusted, saving time and paper.

The Hermitage store is about a third smaller than the Niles store, with which Mercer County shoppers may be most familiar, but it still has all the departments.

When entering the store, shoppers are greeted by the customer service center at the front rather than being tucked away in the back. Also, the checkout lanes have more of a wooden furniture look to them instead of the more glaring aluminum.

Throughout much of the store are signs showcasing styles and brands along with fitting rooms with a more upscale look and privacy. They replace booths that resembled swimming pool cabanas.

“We tried to create a friendlier environment. Something that looks and feels more like a department store,’’ Schutte said.

Kiosks are available near the front for customers to shop at Kohl’s website. The site features 50,000 more items that aren’t available in the store and, of course, the opportunity to look for a clothing size that may have been sold out locally. Traditional bridal registries are also offered in the store. Wi-Fi will be available throughout the retailer.

Teen clothing areas have polished concrete floors for a hip look. “It makes it look like their area,’’ Schutte said.

Featuring its own private labels and national brands, the new store continues to have Kohl’s traditional departments like cosmetics, jewelry and shoes – the last being one of the core draws for the retailer.

In the home area, signage and lighting were reduced to allow the eyes to focus more on the merchandise. Like other retailers, a huge growth area for Kohl’s has been offering K-cups for Keurig coffee makers and the local store devotes more than a fair amount of space to a number of coffee brands.

“Coffee is a major sales driver in this area and you can see in our display – we believe in coffee,’’ Schutte joked.

While it’s still technically winter, the store will not offer winter clearance items when the doors open.

“We’re casting our eyes forward to spring,’’ he said.

A grand opening will be held at 8 a.m. Wednesday with a formal ribbon cutting.

This is the 50th Kohl’s store to open in Pennsylvania and will be managed by Doug Winrod. The 56,000-square-foot store, located at South Hermitage Road and Shenango Valley Freeway, will employ 105.

Based in the Milwaukee suburb of Menomonee Falls, Wis., the chain has 1,146 stores in 49 states and is the fourth largest U.S. department store by sales sitting just below JCPenney.