Kohls hot or not?

kohl'sI recently posted about Kohl’s getting Vera Wang (of bridal gown design fame) to design a line of clothing and bedding to be offered at their stores this fall. I wrote about how the trend of famous designers lending their name and brand to cheaply made low cost and low quality goods from China was a mixed bag. Sometimes, these designers come up with stuff that although it is cheap, is also much more hip than the usual Kohls, Target or WalMart fare. Other times it’s just the same cheap stuff with a fancier name on it and a lot of press buzz which fizzles after a while.

I got some frank comments from someone who works at Kohl’s and I apprecaite that. It is always good to see people who really believe in the company that they work for and are willing to comment about it publicly like that. I think his comments were very genuine and that the products they sell are liked by many people that shop there.

So, I thought hey, I should give Kohl’s another chance and go look this weekend. I heard from my mom that pillows were on sale and I needed some. We went on Sunday. (since my mom always wants to go shopping again, she tagged along) What I found was the same Kohl’s I remember. A lot of stuff, very tightly packed to keep the sales per square foot averages for the stores high. It was much cleaner and more organized than the last time I was in a Kohl’s. That is a huge step in the right direction. I could actually see what was for sale and get to it.

But the quality still seemed off. More cheap jersey fabric than I ever needed to see. More obnoxious fabric patterns than I could look at for long. More cheap vinyl handbags than I cared to smell. Most of the clothing was styles I wasn’t interested in, although there was a Daisy Fuentes solid color sweater top that was cute. The pillows didn’t work out, since I don’t like stuffing and prefer feathers, and they didn’t carry any feather pillows. (although I know that’s not a humane thing to buy, it’s a downfall of mine)

I found that there were some seemingly nice towels for buy one get one free for $13.00, so I go 2. (we will see if they keep their softness after they are washed a few times) Then I also needed an area rug for my kitchen. There weren’t any that were the right color and size and they all were $40-$50-$60 which is high for a rug. But they were buy one get one free. Which I don’t like when it’s something that is intentionally marked up to get you to a higher total sale by the get one free offer. I especially don’t like it when I only need and want to pay for one. So, we ended up with 2 pillow covers and 2 towels and it cost around $22.00.

Then we went to Target and spent $85.00. They had a rug that worked with the right size and color and it was $26.00. They had some cool new lunch bento box things that I had been looking for at the container store but were always sold out. They also had cat litter which I needed, and a gift (cute candle set) for a friend that just moved into a new appartment. I also almost bought some clothes, but there was too much already in my cart, so I didn’t. I just like target better. I spent almost an hour going around looking at everything. They just have nice cool stuff.

So all in all, Vera Wang isn’t going to really change my view of Kohl’s nor get me to shop there more. I think they serve a particular segment well, which is the volume shopper that has a lot of kids and is going to be buying 2, 3 or 4 of things anyway. They also are less style consious and less quality consious if  the kids are going to grow out of it in 6 months anyway. They like clutter, stuff and knicknacks. They also tend to be older, more ethnic and well, it sounds bad  but more than 1/2 of the shoppers that evening were obese people. Kohl’s may have more size options available, and kudos to them for that. The thing is, I didn’t think that the stuff there was a better deal, or a better looking or quality product. So, I am probably not going to go back for a few years. But I am probably not in their target demographic. I am a single yuppie that drives a Saab. When Target or Old Navy gets my dollars, they are stealing them from Banana Republic, Pottery Barn and Ann Taylor. I haven’t been in the Kohl’s demo since High School. Maybe things will change when I get older. Hey, my mom loves Kohl’s.

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4 thoughts on “Kohls hot or not?

  1. Congratulations on being open minded enough to give something another try. I am sorry to hear that it still isn’t the store for you but hey, I hope the towels work out for you. I must admit that I really hate the Buy One Get One free sale. BOGO is the same sa 50% off but as you pointed out, it makes no sense on some items such as rugs. The best days to shop (in case your towels work out and you want more) are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. All of the other days are just basic sales. I also work in a “New Innovation” store so I forget sometimes what some of the older Kohls stores look like. Maybe Kohls will continue the trend of improvement and when you visit it again in a few years you will find it much better. As a company to work for it is great so I really hope that this Vera debut goes well.

  2. Hi Shane,

    Thanks for your open mindedness too. I appreciate it and I appreciate the comments. And, even if I am not the target demographic for Kohl’s you can be sure that a portion of my mom’s social security check will keep coming Kohl’s way every month for a long time to come. The store at 75th & Lemont is so close and she likes it a lot. So you have one loyal Kohl’s fan in the family. Best of luck in the innovation store and to finding new cool products that attract new customers.

  3. The first time I shopped at Kohl’s was while visiting a friend in another city, I thought I’d pass out while in the houseware’s section. Revereware was priced so low! I had to fill out my set with those wonderful bargains. I even bought some items for my mom to add to her set too.

    While I agree with some of the clothing being garish, I love the shoes, and personal items.

    I managed to find some great blouses for work that weren’t too busy on the eyes. I’m not frump, but someone needs to show their buyer a thing or two about taste. Otherwise, Kohl’s has some great deals.

  4. Jen, Thanks for your comments. I always appreciate hearing people’s views on things.

    I think Kohl’s was able to start offering low cost merchandise from brands we were used to seeing as more expensive because they began creating “china made” lines that they could produce for less, and sell in discount stores like Kohl’s.

    Sometimes I think that’s cool, because it is good to get something you need for less money. But sometimes I feel bad that our country isn’t able to produce anything anymore and somehow I feel like we are at a disadvantage now in the world economy because of that.

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