Kohl’s grand opening Wednesday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Mark Wineka
Brenda Maxon and Susan Collins are buddies ó shopping buddies, especially ó so when they learned Monday that Kohl’s was open for business in Salisbury, they beat a path to the new store.
The women are like walking advertisements for Kohl’s. A Salisbury resident, Maxon has been to the Kohl’s stores in Mooresville, Huntersville and Concord.
“We’re just so happy that it’s here,” she said Monday afternoon.
Maxon likes the prices, quality, return policies and selection in the department store. Collins, who lives in Mocksville, gives high marks to the housewares, women’s clothing and “baby things,” because she has three grandchildren.
“It doesn’t matter where it would have been, we would have found it,” Collins said of the new store, celebrated as the company’s 1,000th.
The first store in the new Wallace Commons development, Kohl’s in Salisbury is located off Klumac Road next to Interstate 85. Access from the interstate is available from either the Julian Road or Jake Alexander Boulevard exits.
The store opened quietly Sunday, but its grand opening ó a celebration, District Manager Joel Bechtel said ó will be Wednesday morning. It employs 130 people.
Erin Johnson, a former assistant store manager in Hickory, is the Salisbury store’s manager.
The Salisbury store is a 68,000-square-foot prototype for the smaller Kohl’s stores. Bechtel said more of the smaller stores (the typical Kohl’s is about 88,000 square feet) will be going into secondary markets beyond the metropolitan areas that Kohl’s already has covered.
The Kohl’s here fills in a void for the company between Concord and Winston-Salem.
“Salisbury is a natural progression,” Bechtel said.
Though smaller, the Salisbury Kohl’s offers all the merchandise and same exclusive name brands that Kohl’s always carries. It’s just a case where a larger store might offer 12 colors, while the smaller store has nine, Bechtel said as an example.
Kohl’s pays attention to the little but necessary things, such as providing clean fitting rooms and rest rooms and keeping aisles uncluttered for shoppers.
In these tough economic times, Kohl’s still does well, Bechtel said, because it brings branding value and convenience.
“People understand that value,” he said. “They know when a deal’s a deal. Kohl’s shoppers will find us no matter what.”
While Home Depot has put its plans for a Salisbury store next to Kohl’s on hold, the Wisconsin-based Kohl’s continues to grow. It has an especially strong presence in the Carolinas, where its main competitors are Belk and Target.
“I work for a company that is opening 47 stores in this economy ó come on,” Bechtel said. “… It’s great to be part of a company with 1,000 stores.”
Some of the exclusive lines found at Kohl’s include Simply Vera Wang, Chaps, Apartment 9, Jumpin Bean and, in housewares, the Food Network.
“I like the clothing, basically everything,” said Kathleen Wright, who traveled to the Salisbury store from Tyro in Davidson County. “My neighbors are excited, too.”
Previously, the closest Kohl’s for Wright was in Winston-Salem.
In Salisbury, Kohl’s discovered “a very eager workforce,” Bechtel said.
“I think we found a very good team,” he said. “Opening a store is not easy, and folks did it with a smile on their faces.”
To help in the early going, Kohl’s has called in assistant store managers from other locations. Assistant store managers Abigail Ely (Winston-Salem) and Kellie Ritzmann (Kernersville) were among the imported help Monday for the Salisbury store.
Salisbury’s two assistant store managers are University of North Carolina at Charlotte graduates who have gone through the Kohl’s training program.
“It’s a perfect store to start in,” Bechtel said.